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If Francis is a Heretic, What should Canonically happen to him?


If Francis is a Heretic, What should Canonically happen to him?

Unknown said…
In regard to this quote from St. Francis de Sales:

“[T]he Pope… WHEN he is EXPLICITLY a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church MUST either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See.”
(The Catholic Controversy, by St. Francis de Sales, Pages 305-306)

The translation of this passage is incorrect. The same edition (Tan) from which this is excerpted gives in an appendix the original French. The correct translation would be (omitting the first few words): "... he falls ipso facto from his dignity out of the Church, and the Church must either DEPRIVE HIM, AS SOME SAY, OR DECLARE him deprived, of his Apostolic See." (words capitalized to show the change)

The words "as some say" belong with the former possibility (he must be deprived), not the latter (declare him deprived). This may seem to be a minor difference (though it does not excuse the error of the translator). However, the clear implication appears to be that St. Francis considers the latter opinion, which is that of St. Robert Bellarmine and the more or less unanimous opinion since, to be the definitive one, and is only mentioning the first because it was held by some authors. Thus, the correct position of the qualifying phrase is important, though for the author's polemical purpose in this pamphlet, it was not necessary for him to go into this particular aspect of the question. The semi-Conciliarist idea that a pope can be deposed, in the literal sense, has no support at all (even implicit) from the three Doctors of the Church since the Council of Trent (St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Alphonsus de Liguori).

A point of less importance, which might be considered just a stylistic flourish on the translator's part. The word "and" following "he falls ipso facto from his dignity" does not occur in the French. So the exact translation is "he falls ipso facto from his dignity out of the Church." I think this expresses more vividly that falling from his dignity and falling out of the Church are one and the same action. The manifest heretic falls out of the Church by his own act; his dignity is attached to the Church, not to himself; he cannot take it with him when he departs from the Church, any more than when he dies.

At any rate, if St. Francis de Sales had wished to write "and," he could have done so.

The French text runs as follows: "Or quand il est hérétique exprès ipso facto il tombe de son grade hors de l'Eglise et l'Eglise le doit ou priver comme disent quelques uns, ou le declarer privé de son siège apostolique ..." (p. 388 of Tan Books edition, 1989; photostatic reprint of the original: London: Burns and Oates, and New York: Catholic Publication Society, 1886, as v. III of the series "Library of St. Francis de Sales.")

One can only wish that every Catholic would study this truly golden book, and then consider by what possible stretch of the mind Vatican II and all its fruits can be considered Catholic.


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