(LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Gerhard Müller has stated that a pope who teaches heresy would automatically lose his office.
“To teach contrary to the apostolic faith would automatically deprive the pope of his office,” he wrote in an opinion piece published on Friday in the religious journal First Things. “We must all pray and work courageously to spare the Church such an ordeal.”
“The pope is the perennial principle and foundation of the unity of the Church,” he said. “But the Church is not centralized in him, as if he were the supreme leader of a totalitarian party.”
Cardinal Müller stated this position before in an interview in November 2022, in which he said, “In an extreme case, a pope could become a heretic as a private person and thus automatically lose his office if the contradiction to the revelation and the dogmatic teaching of the Church is evident.”
The opinion that a pope could become a heretic and lose his office was expressed by Cardinal St. Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, who wrote about the issue in the second book of his work De Romano Pontifice (On the Roman Pontiff). According to Cardinal Bellarmine, “the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.” (De Romano Pontifice, Book II, Chapter 30).
The Magisterium of the Catholic Church has not taught authoritatively on the question of whether or not a heretical pope automatically loses his office, so it remains a debatable issue among Catholics.
‘The Church is not a democracy’
Cardinal Müller furthermore stressed that “the Church is not and cannot become a democracy” and that the members of the Synod on Synodality cannot “vote” to change the truths of the Catholic faith.
“Although the pope has now given ‘voting rights’ to some lay people at the Synod on Synodality, neither they nor the bishops are able to ‘vote’ on the faith,” he wrote in the First Things piece.
The prefect emeritus of the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith explained the difference between a state with democratically elected leaders and the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ.
“In a state committed solely to the temporal common good of all its citizens and governed by a democratic constitution, the people are rightly called the sovereign,” he said. “In the Church, which is endowed by God for the eternal salvation of mankind, God himself is the sovereign.”
“In the Church, therefore, the bishops and priests are not the representatives of the people they govern; they are representatives of God.”
“The fact that the Church is not and cannot become a democracy is not the result of a persistent autocratic mentality,” Cardinal Müller continued. “It is due to the fact that the Church is not a state or a man-made entity at all. The essence of the Church cannot be grasped by the sociological categories of natural reason, but only in the light of the faith that the Holy Spirit works in us.”
“God’s sovereignty rests in his omnipotence and love, which he offers without having to fear his creatures as competitors (unlike in the pagan myth of Prometheus). And as creatures we do not have to insist on absolute autonomy or emancipate ourselves from our Creator in order to fight for our freedom,” he wrote.
“For the fullness of his love is the source of our being. That love makes us free for devotion, the goal of which is unity with God in love.”
“By contrast,” the prelate said, “some activists, especially those embarked on the German ‘synodal way,’ consider the upcoming Synod on Synodality as a kind of congress of the faithful that is authorized to give the Church of God a new constitution and new doctrines agreeable to the spirit of the age.”
“Rest assured that even if a majority of the delegates were to ‘decide’ on the ‘blessing’ (blasphemous and contrary to Scripture itself) of homosexual couples, or the ordination of women as deacons or priests, even the authority of the pope would not be sufficient to introduce or condone such heretical teachings, or any other teachings that contradict the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and the dogma of the Church,” he stated.
Faithful Catholics will prevent the Church from being turned into ‘worldly NGO’
Referring to the heterodox Synod on Synodality, Cardinal Müller warned that “[f]aith can easily be instrumentalized for political agendas, or blurred into a universal religion of the brotherhood of man that ignores the God revealed in Jesus Christ.”
“Any attempt to transform the Church founded by God into a worldly NGO will be thwarted by millions of Catholics,” he asserted.
“Any attempt to transform the Church founded by God into a worldly NGO will be thwarted by millions of Catholics,” he asserted. “They will resist to the death the transformation of the house of God into a market of the spirit of the age, for the whole of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in ‘matters of belief’ (Lumen Gentium).”
Cardinal Müller stressed the need for a Church faithful to Christ in order to combat the globalist Great Reset agenda.
“We face a globalist program of a world without God, in which a power elite proclaims itself the creator of a new world and ruler of the disenfranchised masses,” he said. “That program and power elite cannot be countered by a ‘Church without Christ,’ one that abandons the Word of God in Scripture and Tradition as the guiding principle of Christian action, thought, and prayer (Dei verbum).”
The cardinal called on the faithful and hierarchy to “forsake the vain project of using our limited human logic to ‘reform’ God’s word in accord with alleged paradigm shifts,” adding that “[w]e are the ones who need to reform and conform to God.”