Fr Chazal Forwards Document on Deposing a Pope

Fr Chazal Forwards Document on Deposing a Pope – by Br. Joseph


Article below Reblogged from:

 John of St. Thomas
“De Auctoritate Summi Pontificis” Disputatio III, Articulus II
XVII De Depositione Papae & Seq.

There remains a second difficulty, namely by what authority can this deposition be made. And the whole question deals on two things, namely, around the declarative sentence by which the crime of the pope is declared, by whom it must be made, whether by cardinals, or by a general council; and if by a general council, by whom authority it must be assembled, and by what power can he know about such cause.

Secondly, about the deposition itself, which is to be done after a declarative criminal sentence; whether it is done by the power of the Church, or by Christ the Lord Himself, immediately, the declaration being supposed.

As for the first point, it must be said that the dealing with the deposition of the pope can be cone in no way by the cardinals in the declaration of the crime, but to a general council. This is evident from the use of the Church; for in the case of Marcellinus regarding the incensing of idols, a synod was assembled in order to discuss the cause, as found in the chapter, distinction XXI. And in the case of schism, in which three popes were found [in the diverse] obediences, there was assembled the synod of Constance in order to quell the schism. And in the case of Symmachus there was the council of Rome to deal with things that were objected to him as referred to by Antonius Augustinus in his “Epitome Iuris De Pontifice Maximo,” title XIII, and in the laws abovementioned we see pontiffs wanting to satisfy for crimes objected to them, doing so in front of a council.

Secondly we see that this power to deal with the causes of the pontiffs, and what belongs to their deposition, do not pertain to the cardinals. It remains in the deposition of the Church, whose authority is represented by a general council, for only the election is entrusted to the cardinals, and nothing more, as anyone reading the law we quoted in article one. It is [good] to see what Turrecremata (lib II Summae cap. XCIII), Cajetan, cited above have to say, as well as canon doctors in the chapter on faith about heretics (in #6) & in the chapter on whether a pope (dist #40).


But now it remains to explain by what authority that council is to be convoked, & indeed it cannot be convoked by the authority of the pope, for the pontiff could recuse it, and annul it if it were convoked against his will, if indeed he is a true pope before the declaration of the crime. Therefore whatever assembled council remains under his authority, and consequently can be dissolved if he so wills.


To which it is answered that this council can be convoked by the authority of the Church, which is over the bishops or their biggest portion. The Church has a right to separate itself from a heretical pope in virtue of divine right, and as a result can take all the means necessary for such a separation. The necessary means is that per se that such a crime be evidenced juridically, and it cannot be evidenced juridically unless a competent judgment is formed, and such a competent judgment cannot be in such a grave matter except by a general council, because it is dealing about the universal head of the Church, which make it the object of the judgment of the universal Church, which is a general council. And thus I do not concur with Fr. Suarez who thinks that this matter could be dealt by provincial councils, for provincial councils do not represent the universal Church in such a way as to enable them to decide of this matter. Neither do several provincial councils enjoy such representation and authority [as necessary]. But if we talk about by whom the convocation of such council is to be made, (not about the authority itself by which he is judged), I think it is determined to no one specifically, but can be done by the cardinals, who can notify the bishops in their turn, or by the closest bishops who can denounce to the others so that all can come; or at the instance of the prince, not by a coative convocation, like when a pope convokes a council, but by a denuntiative convocation which denounces such crime to the bishops and manifests them to come to help. Hence the pope cannot annul or recuse such council, because he is a part, and the Church can convoke it by divine right for that purpose, because she has the right to separate herself from heretics.


Concerning the second point, namely by whose authority the declaration and deposition is to be made, there is dissent among theologians, and it does not appear by whom such a deposition is to be made, because it is an act of judgment, and jurisdiction, which can be exercised by no one over the pope.

Cajetan in his opuscule on the power of the pope, chapter XX, brings forth two opposite ways of speaking, and two median as well.

In the extreme opposite, one is [to say] that the pope by the very fact that he is a heretic is deposed without any human judgment; and the other says that the pope has [above himself] a superior power by which he can be judged.

In the median modes [of speaking], one says that the pope has no superior absolutely, but only in the case of heresy, and the other says that neither absolutely, nor in the case of heresy has [the pope got] a superior power on earth, but only a ministerial power, just like the Church has a ministerial power to elect, in what regards the designation of the person, but not the conferring of the power, because the latter is done immediately by Christ as we said in article one.

Thus, even in deposition, or in the destruction of this conjunction by which the pontificate is united to this particular person, the Church has the ministerial power to depose him ministerially; whereas Christ can deprive [him of office] authoritatively.

Of these two modes of speaking, Azorius follows the first (II, Tom. II, Cap. VII), namely that the Church is. The other way of speaking is followed by Cajetan and explained at length by him; and he is quoted and

attached by Bellarmine (II Book, De Romano Pontifice, Cap. XX), especially on two points, namely when Cajetan says that that a manifest heretic pope is not deposed ipso facto, and that the pope is deposed truly by the authority of the Church – Suarez in his often quoted disputation (Sect VI, Num. VII) attacks [also] Cajetan when he says that the Church, in case of the heresy of a pope, is above him as a private person but not as a pope. But this is not what Cajetan says, but that the Church is not above the pope absolutely, even in the case of heresy, whereas it is above the conjunction of the pontificate with that person by dissolving it, just as it united it at the election, which power is ministerial, because, simpliciter, only Christ the Lord is the superior of the pope. This is why Bellarmine and Suarez believe that in that itself, that a pope is a manifest heretic & declared incorrigible, he is deposed immediately by Christ the Lord, and not by any authority in the Church.


Thus Cajetan’s sentence is contained in three phrases. First, that a heretical pope, by the very fact of heresy, is neither deprived of the pontificate, nor deposed. Second, that the Church has no power, neither superiority over the pope, even in the case of heresy, in what concerns the power of the pope, as if there would be a power above the power in this case. But the power of the Church is in no way above the power of the pope, and consequently neither above the pope absolutely. Third, the object of the power of the Church is to apply the power to the person, by designating him by an election, and separating this power from that person, by declaring him a heretic to be avoided by the faithful.

Therefore, whereas the declaration of crime is like an antecedent disposition, and is ministerial with regard to the deposition itself, nevertheless it attains the form dispositively and ministerially, because in tending in the disposition, it tends mediately in the form. It is like in the generation and corruption of man: neither the generator produces or brings forth the form, neither the corruptor destroys it, but only the conjunction or separation of the form [is touched] by attaining immediately the dispositions of the matter to it, and through these the form [itself].


The first point of Cajetan is manifest from the above and cannot be attacked legitimately by Bellarmine. Its truth is obvious: either because the pope no matter how much he is truly and publicly a heretic, if he is ready to be corrected, cannot be deposed (as we said above), neither can the Church depose him by divine right, nor can she, neither must she avoid him as the Apostle says: “avoid the heretical man after one and a second correction.” Therefore he is not to be avoided by the Church before a first and second correction, neither is he to be deposed consequently. Hence it is false to say that the pontiff by the very fact that he is a public heretic [ipso facto], is deposed. He can be a public heretic, yet not corrected by the Church, nor declared incorrigible; this is either because (as Azorius says well above) no bishop, no matter how much he is an exterior heretic, even if he contracts an excommunication ipso facto, can ipso facto lose his jurisdiction and episcopal power until he is declared thus by the Church and is deposed. Only the non tolerated excommunicated lose their jurisdiction ipso facto, like those who are excommunicated nominatively, or those who have assaulted clerics manifestly.

Therefore if a bishop or any other prelate does not lose his office ipso facto his office by the sole fact of exterior heresy, why would the pope lose his before the declaration of the Church, especially when the pope cannot incur excommunication, because, as I suppose, no excommunication is given by divine right; ad he cannot be excommunicated by human right, because he is by right superior to all men.


The second sentence of Cajetan is proved because the power of the pope is a power derived absolutely from Christ, and not from the Church; and Christ subjected the whole Church to that power, i.e., all the faithfuls without any restriction whatsoever, as it is certain by faith and amply proven above. Therefore in no case can the Church have a power above that one, except in this case in which it is made dependent from the Church, and inferior to her; and in this case that it is made inferior because this power has been mutated and does not remain the same as before, so that it was before above the whole Church and independent from her; [and] by this case it is made dependent and inferior.

Therefore it is never verified that the Church has a power above the power of the pope formally, because for her to have power over it in one case, that power must be formally different and not so ample and supreme as before, and not so supreme and ample as before. And from no authority does it appear that Christ the Lord gave such power of the Church above the power of the pope; the things we are talking about in the case of heresy do not indicate a formal superiority above the power of the pope, but only an avoidance, separation, denial of communion, etc. That can remain without a superior power formally above the power of the pope. Neither is this foundament thus, as we said that Christ the Lord gave to Peter and his See a supreme power without any restrictions whatsoever, and independent, that for the case of heresy it would become formally dependent and inferior to the power of the Church in the order of powers, in such a way that it would remain a subordinate power with respect to the Church, and not superior as before. As for the second saying of Cajetan, namely that the Church has no power superior to the pope, taken absolutely, it is amply proven above that because the Church must be subject to the pope, and because his power is not originating from the Church, but immediately from Christ, whose place he occupies, [it is proved] that in the case of heresy it is neither above the pope in what regards his power, both because this power itself is in no way derived and originated from the Church, but from Christ, and therefore in no case is the power of the Church superior, and also because this power of the pope, as originating from Christ is instituted as a supreme one above all power of the Church which is on earth (as proved in many authorities), no case was made exception of by Christ the Lord, in which this power would be limited, and subjected to another, but is talked always and for all as a supreme [power] and monarchy.

When one talks about heresy, he does not attribute a superiority to the pope, but commands only to separate, to avoid, and not to communicate with the heretic, because these things do not indicate a superiority, and can be kept without it. Therefore the power of the Church is not above the pope even in the case of heresy. The laws give conviction to that, who say that the first See is judged by no one, which applies also in the case of infidelity, for the fathers assembled in the case of Marcellinus told him: you judge yourself.


The third saying follows the preceding. For the Church can declare the crime of the pontiff, and propose him to the faithful as [a person] to be avoided in conformity to divine right by which a heretic is to be avoided, a pontiff to be avoided in virtue of such a disposition is because he is a member to be avoided by her, and as a consequence cannot have influence on her. Therefore by the virtue of such a power the Church dissolves the conjunction between the pontificate and that person ministerially and dispositively, and the consequence is obvious, because the agent that can induce a disposition in a subject to who necessarily a separation of form is annexed and with which the form cannot stay in the subject, has power above the dissolution of the form and attains the form mediately, as to be separated from the subject, not to be destroyed in itself, as is seen in an agent corrupting [destroying] a man destroys not the form but induces the dissolution of the form by putting a disposition in the matter with which the form cannot stay.

Thus as the Church can declare a pontiff as Vitandus [to be avoided], she can induce a disposition in that person by which the pontificate cannot stand, and is thus dissolved ministerially and dispositively by the Church; authoritatively by Christ, just as by designating him by election [process] she disposes him ultimately so that he receives the collation of power by Christ the Lord and thus creates a pope. And when Cajetan says that the Church has authority in the conjunction or the separation of the pontiff with the person it must be in such a wise that the Church has the authority to declare the crime of the pope, just as it designate him as pope, and what is authoritative with respect to the declaration, is in fact dispositive and ministerial with respect to the form, in its conjunction or separation, for there is nothing that the Church can do on the form taken absolutely and in itself because it is not a subordinate power to it.

The laws concur from this which sometimes say that the deposition of the pontiff belongs only to God, and sometimes say that he can be judged by inferiors in the case of heresy. Both is true, both the fact that the ejection and deposition of the pontiff is reserved authoritatively and principally to God alone, as expressly said in the chapter about ejection (79), and in many other laws above mentioned, who say that God reserved to Himself the judgment of the Apostolic See, but ministerially and by dispositively declaring the crime and putting forth the pope as [a person] to be avoided the Church judges concerning the pope, as in the chapt. “Si Papa” (Dist 40) & “Oves” II, quaesi VII.

Solution to Arguments

The solution to the arguments of Bellarmine and Suarez against the aforementioned sentence is easy. Bellarmine objects that the Apostle says that the heretical man is to be avoided after two rebuttals, i.e., after he appears manifestly pertinacious before all [/any] excommunication and judicial sentence, as St Jerome writes there, saying that heretics recess from the Body of Christ. The reason is that a non Christian cannot be the pope, neither can the one be the head if he is not a member. The heretic indeed is not a Christian as the Fathers commonly teach; therefore a manifest heretic cannot be pope.


It is answered that a heretic is to be avoided because of two admonitions juridically made, by the judgment of the Church, and not by private judgment. A great confusion would follow in the Church if such an admonition [itself] of heresy instead of the declaration of the Church proposed to all, all should avoid him. The heresy of the pontiff cannot be public to all the faithfuls except by being reported by others, and because this relation is not juridical, it does not oblige to belief by all and that all should avoid [the pope]. It is required therefore that as the Church proposes him as elected by designating him to all juridically, that she should depose him as a “Vitandus” heretic by declaration and proposition. Hence we see what is practiced in the Church, that in the case of the deposition of a pope, the cause itself is dealt with by a general council, instead of the assumption that he is not pope, as we said above.

The pope does not cease to be the pope before any ecclesial trial sentence by the fact itself of heresy, and before he is proposed as to be avoided. Neither is [St.] Jerome, when he says that the heretic walks out per se from the Body of Christ, excludes him from the judgment of the Church, especially in a thing so grave as the deposition of a pope, but she judges the quality of the crime that excludes from the Church without any over added censure, as long as it is declared by the Church.

Despite being separated per se from the Church, quo ad nos, [as far as we are concerned], such a separation is not understood to take place without such declaration. And in the same way do we reply to the argument that says that the non Christian who neither per se, nor quo ad nos is a Christian, cannot be the pope, for in himself he has ceased to be a Christian because he has lost the faith. But for us [quo ad nos] he is not yet declared infidel or heretic, no matter how much he may be manifest [heretic] according to private judgment. He is still a member of the Church for us [quo ad nos], and consequently its head.

Therefore the judgment of the Church is required by which he is declared as a non Christian, to be avoided, and then he ceases to be a pope to us [quo ad nos] and before then he did not desist, even per se, because all he was doing was valid per se.


Secondly it is objected that the Church has no power over the conjunction between the pontiff and the person, unless she has power on the pontificate itself, and the pope does nothing more, when he deposes a bishop, than destroying his link with the episcopate, for he does not destroy the episcopate itself. Therefore if the Church has power in the conjunction of the pontificate with the person, consequently it can or has power over the pontificate and the person of the pope. What confirms it is that the pope is deposed unwillingly; and therefore is punished by such a deposition. To punish is the act of a superior and a judge; therefore the Church that deposes, or punishes by the punishment of deposition has a superiority over the person of the pope. Lastly he who has power over both parts or over their conjunction, has power over the whole simpliciter; just like the one who generates a man has power simpliciter over the whole man himself. Therefore if the Church has power over the conjunction of the pontificate with the person, she has power over the pope simpliciter, something that Cajetan denies.


It is answered that the pope deposes a bishop in a different way than the Church deposes a pope. For the pontiff deprives him as one deprives a subordinate and someone subjected to him and having a power subordinate and dependent that can be limited and constrained. Hence whereas it takes the episcopate from the person and does not destroy the episcopate, nevertheless he remove it by the superiority that he has over that person, concerning also the power subordinated to himself by the person of which he removes it from the person, and not just the person from it [the power]. The Church takes away the pontificate out of a superiority to the power itself, but a ministerial and dispositive power by which it can induce a disposition incompatible with the pontificate as we said.


To confirm this we answer that the pope can be disposed against his will ministerially and dispositively by the Church, authoritatively by Christ the Lord, hence, properly speaking, he is punished by Christ, not by the Church.

And to the last point we say that the one who has power in the conjunction of the parts has power in the whole simpliciter, but not if this is done ministerially only and dispositively over such a conjunction. This is excepted in natural things in which the physical dispositions have a natural connection with the whole being itself, so that when an agent produces the conjunctive dispositions, he produces also, simpliciter, the whole itself. In moral things, the disposition that is made by one, because it has only a moral conjunction with the form, almost like something made by voluntary institution, the one who disposes [the conjunction] does not make the whole simpliciter and authoritatively, but ministerially. So if a pontiff concedes to somebody that the places he designates have power to gain indulgences and declares as not having this power those places that he declares devoid of it; such designation or declaration does not take away or grant indulgences authoritatively and principally, but only ministerially.


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