In a new interview with LifeSite News, Cardinal Müller, the former head of the Holy Office said that Pope Francis “has already uttered plenty of material heresies,” but that since these are not formal heresies, Pope Francis has not lost his office. He affirmed the theory of St. Robert Bellarmine, whose opinion was that the pope would lose his office immediately upon becoming a formal heretic.
We have already commented at OnePeterFive to point out that Bellarmine’s view here (according to Bellarmine’s own estimation!) is merely a probable opinion among other opinions about this matter, and the Magisterium has not definitively resolved it. Bishop Schneider holds a different view than Bellarmine (and thus Müller), claiming that “Even in the case of a heretical pope he will not lose his office automatically and there is no body within the Church to declare him deposed because of heresy.” He further adds:
Therefore, we must follow the surer way (via tutior) and abstain from defending the mere opinion of theologians (even they be Saints like St. Robert Bellarmine), which says that a heretical pope automatically loses his office or can be deposed by the Church therefore.
But Müller went on to not only speak about material heresy:
Müller argued that through Francis’ implicit promotion and toleration of same-sex “blessings” and Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly “remarried,” the Pope is fostering a “heresy of practice.”
We are entering new territory, ladies and gentlemen. The former doctrinal head of the Vatican is accusing the Pope of a species – nay two species – of heresy. Not only that, he accuses his successor in the same office – Tucho “Heal Me with Your Mouth” Fernández – of something similar:
Müller noted a statement by Cardinal Victor Fernández, the new head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, on allowing Communion for civilly “remarried” divorcees without living in full continence, calling the declaration a “borderline” case when it comes to formal heresy.
The German cardinal told LifeSiteNews that Fernández said the faithful “must accept this declaration by the Argentinian bishops and their interpretation [of Amoris Laetitia regarding the reception of Communion by divorcees] with religious obedience of mind and will.”
“That was already heretical, but it was not the Pope who said that.”
But Müller was not done! He even conceded that the validity of Pope Francis’s election is “difficult to judge” yet at the same time, the exercise of the office has “cured” any deficiency with the election.
As I said in my previous article, popes have become bishop of Rome in all sorts of ways (even dubious ways), and this idea that the exercise of the office has “cured it,” is certainly reasonable and valid. Becoming the bishop of Rome is not a Sacrament that gets invalidated without the proper form and matter. It’s literally an appointment to a city.
Müller says that it would do more harm than good to try to question the election at this point. Fair enough.
He ended his rampage of the crisis by saying that the Church has no authority to ordain women to a Sacramental diaconate or a “blessing” of homosexual couples. If he did, it would be “invalid” because it has already been “definitely decided” that the Church has no authority to do this.
Thus Müller, former head of the Holy Office.
Bishops against Bishops, Cardinals against Cardinals
This is truly an amazing situation. We are living in the glorious time of the saints. This pontificate will be discussed in five hundred years, just like the pontificates of John XII, John XXII and Honorius. The Francis pontificate has stirred up the most insane situation it’s hard to believe – it keeps getting more intense and more historic.
What Müller has made clear, as the former head of the Holy Office, is that all the critics of Pope Francis were right. They were acting reasonably. We have not had this much episcopal support yet. Cardinal Müller is the highest voice who has ever spoken on this matter in this way. He’s higher Schneider. Higher than Burke. Higher than Cardinal Sarah who signed the new dubia (but let’s not forget Sarah’s the former Vatican head of Worship, another significant post).
And Müller’s voice is carrying over the whole world of the episcopate, where bishops are slowly raising their heads and speaking in defence of the Faith.
As the years go by, more bishops are arising.
Do you see this happening? We are witnessing something huge.
And we get to be alive in this time. Viva Christo Rey!
UPDATE Nov. 8, 2023, 2:30pm EST
After the initial publication of this article the main source URL at LifeSite News for Müller’s interview became inactive. Since it is unclear whether this was a retraction on the part of LifeSite, the link has been updated to the archived version. We have contacted our friends at LifeSite for clarification and will update this post if more information becomes available.
UPDATE Nov. 10, 2023 9:51am EST
A modified version of the original statement has now been released by LifeSite News. The original, archived version is quoted and linked above. In the updated version, the Cardinal says “some of Pope Francis’s statements are formulated in such a way that they could be reasonably understood as material heresy, independent of their unclear subjective meaning.”
Timothy S. Flanders earned a BA in Greek and Latin from Grand Valley State University in 2010 with special studies in history, writing and Arabic. As a result of his studies, he converted from Protestantism to Eastern Orthodoxy and began working in education among ages Kindergarten to adult. He then pursued a Masters’ Degree in Christian history and theology with the Catholic University of Ukraine. In 2013, as a result of further searching, he converted to Roman Catholicism shortly after Pope Francis was elected. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. In 2021, he became the editor-in-chief of the online journal, OnePeterFive. He is the author of three books: Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics, City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and When the Gates of Hell Prevail: What Catholics Do in Dark Times, as well as a forthcoming book about Eastern Orthodoxy, published by St. Paul Center. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.