On Filial and Fraternal Correction of the Holy Pontiff

Paul corrected Peter.

Paul? You mean Paul the Apostle? Paul was sent by the first Roman Pontiff Peter to be in charge of preaching to the Gentiles. Paul saw a vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul had his role in the Church given to him by Christ directly. Paul wrote more books of the Bible than anyone else but God. This is the Paul about whom Peter wrote in Sacred Scripture:

[2 Peter]
{3:15} And let the longsuffering of our Lord be considered salvation, as also our most beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
{3:16} just as he also spoke in all of his epistles about these things. In these, there are certain things which are difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unsteady distort, as they also do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The first Pope, appointed directly by Jesus Christ, wrote, in infallible Sacred Scripture, that Saint Paul the Apostle has wisdom given to him by God and that he understands things “which are difficult to understand”, especially the things of Sacred Scripture.

This is the “man” about whom Paul writes in Sacred Scripture, speaking of himself in the third person:

[2 Corinthians]
{12:1} If it is necessary (though certainly not expedient) to glory, then I will next tell of visions and revelations from the Lord.
{12:2} I know a man in Christ, who, more than fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I do not know, or out of the body, I do not know: God knows), was enraptured to the third heaven.
{12:3} And I know a certain man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I do not know: God knows),
{12:4} who was enraptured into Paradise. And he heard words of mystery, which it is not permitted for man to speak.

Paul was enraptured to the third heaven. Paul was enraptured to Paradise. Paul heard words of mystery directly from God.

And you’re comparing yourself to Paul? It is pitiable, wretched, laughable, and absolutely wicked for every blogger and minor author or speaker in the Church to give themselves the role of Saint Peter the Apostle in offering the Pope a correction which is supposedly justified by Paul’s example.

Papal Critics: “Paul corrected Peter.”

Me: “You’re no Saint. You’re no Apostle. You’re not an author of Sacred Scripture. You did not receive a commission from the Pope to preach to all the Gentiles. You did not receive a vision from Christ, giving you the role to preach Christ. You were not enraptured to the third heaven and to Paradise. You are not someone whom Sacred Scripture, in the words of the first Pope, calls wise. You are no Paul. Your correction is nothing like that of Paul to Peter.”

Immunity from Error and a Never-failing Faith

Can the Pope teach heresy or grave error? No, each Pope has the gift, from the prevenient grace of God, of truth, which preserves him from teaching material heresy, even inadvertently, and from every type of grave error on doctrine and discipline.

Can the faith of the Pope fail, so that he would fall into apostasy, heresy, or schism? No, each Pope has the gift, from the prevenient grace of God, of a never-failing faith, which preserves his person from committing the sins of formal heresy, formal schism, or apostasy.

Do you disagree? Then you are the one who is a heretic.

The above assertions on the immunity from error and never-failing faith of the Pope are divinely-revealed dogma, as is proven in this article:
The Roman Pontiff: Immunity from Error and Never-failing Faith
The article has quotes from the dogma taught by the First Vatican Council; the dogma found in the letter of Pope Saint Agatho to the Third Council of Constantinople; the dogma found in Unam Sanctam, the Papal Bull of Pope Boniface VIII, confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council; the teaching of Pope Saint Leo IX; the teaching of Pope Pius XI; the teaching of Pope St. Nicholas I; and Canon Law 1404: “The First See is judged by no one”.

If you accuse Pope Francis of apostasy, heresy, or schism, or of teaching material heresy, or of any other grave error, such as propagating heresy, you are guilty of formal heresy and formal schism, which carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.

Fraternal or Filial Correction

Is your correction justified because it is fraternal or filial, like the correction of a brother or a son (or daughter)? So do you think that, by proposing the correction to be fraternal, filial, respectful, or faithful, you evade the Law that says “The First See is judged by no one”? Then I ask you, Who are the brothers and children of the Pope? Is not every Catholic one or the other or both? Then your proposal nullifies Canon Law. And it is not merely a Canon, but also an ancient teaching of the Church. The Church has always everywhere taught that the First See is judged by no one. So it is also a dogma under the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

And that dogma is based on Sacred Scripture, making in divinely revealed:

{7:24} Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them shall be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.
{7:25} And the rains descended, and the floods rose up, and the winds blew, and rushed upon that house, but it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
{7:26} And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them shall be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.
{7:27} And the rains descended, and the floods rose up, and the winds blew, and rushed upon that house, and it did fall, and great was its ruin.”
{7:28} And it happened, when Jesus had completed these words, that the crowds were astonished at his doctrine.
{7:29} For he was teaching them as one who has authority, and not like their scribes and Pharisees.

Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes of today, who make foolish theological and rhetorical arguments, to undermine the authority of the Rock on which the House of God is founded. And Jesus gave that authority to Peter and his successors, so that the Rock would withstand every storm. Do you think that the authority of Christ, given to Peter, is overruled by anyone with a computer and an internet connection? If many grains of sand disagree with the authority of the Rock, can they overrule him? Not at all.

{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
{16:19} And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall release on earth shall be released, even in heaven.”

When Jesus said that the Church is founded on Peter, do you think He meant to imply an exception, whenever the many grains of sand disagree? No, He did not. If the opinions of the crowd could “correct” the Vicar of Christ, every time he dares to teach a doctrine unpopular with the limited fallible distorted ignorant opinions of the grains of sand, then Peter would have no authority at all.

{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.”

The role of Peter and his successors is to confirm the faith of his brethren in the Episcopate. Thus, the body of Bishops is protected also by the prevenient grace of God from grave error and gravely erroneous teachings. So it is that the Pope has the role to teach and correct Cardinals and Bishops, religious, laity, theologians, and every kind of group within the Church. They do not have the role to correct him, he has the role to correct them. For the Pope has the role and authority from Christ to confirm (that is, to strength by teaching and correction) the body of Bishops. Not the other way around.

Thus, the entire body of Bishops cannot correct the Pope, under the guise of “fraternal correction”. And therefore lesser persons and authorities cannot do so either. And here is the dogma of the First Vatican Council teaching that very truth:

Vatican I: 8. Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful [52], and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment [53]. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon [54]. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.

9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

If an Ecumenical Council cannot give the Pope fraternal correction, then neither can the papal critics of today. There is no legitimate role or authority of fraternal or filial correction given to anyone over the Roman Pontiff.

Faithful Disagreements

The faithful can occasionally disagree with the opinions, non-infallible teachings, and decisions on discipline of the Roman Pontiff. But they sin gravely who, in disagreeing, presume that their understanding is certainly correct, and speak of the teachings or decisions of the Pope as if these were grave errors. God prevents every Pope from grave errors of doctrine and discipline, which might harm the Faith or the Church. God prevents the Pope from apostasy, heresy, and schism. God even prevents the Pope from planning or desires to do harm to the Church. For the prevenient grace of God can never be rejected by any human person.

Neither can you say that Pope Francis must be an illicit Pope, an antipope, due to some type of problem with his election. For the Church is indefectible. Therefore, if the body of Bishops accepts a man as Roman Pontiff, he must be the true Roman Pontiff. Otherwise, the Church would have defected by accepting a false Vicar of Christ. Therefore, it is a dogmatic fact that Pope Francis is a valid Roman Pontiff.

Papal Critics: “Let me explain to you why Pope Francis is wrong.”
Me: “Let me explain to you what the word ‘faith’ means.”

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
* My books of theology
* My translation of the Bible (the CPDV)
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11 Responses to On Filial and Fraternal Correction of the Holy Pontiff

  1. Alex says:

    Ron, thank you as always.

    I encounter something troubling. I attend the Latin mass more frequently than the common mass, because of close relatives there. What I hear is, those people do not consider the normal mass validly consecrated, or at least not as much as the latin mass (what they understand under that vague language?) Some people who attend the Latin mass, do not kneel on the Consecration of the normal mass.

    Together with the “correction” they wanted so much cardinal Burke to do to pope Francis.
    Together with other words, such as: “we want to know what the pope thinks as a pope. What he thinks personally, we already know it, he is wrong”. Apriori denouncing of everything pope Francis might say.

    I have the feeling this is the start of a sect inside the Church. A sect that is already separated, pretending they are the “true church”. A sect led by cardinal Sarah who ordered All priests must “face east”.

    What is your intake on that?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Yes, a schism has begun. They have rejected the Magisterium, and replaced it with the majority opinion of the conservative Catholic subculture. Certainly the Novus Ordo Mass is valid and licit. Requiring certain points of form is Pharisaical. Whether or not one point of form is better than the other is not the issue. Rather, the issues is obedience and faith in the Church and the Pope.

  2. sircliges says:

    «each Pope has the gift, from the prevenient grace of God, of truth, which preserves him from teaching material heresy, even inadvertently, and from every type of grave error on doctrine and discipline.»

    Uhm… Honorius and John XXII?

  3. sircliges says:

    That was not formal heresy (because there was not yet defined bonding doctrine) but it was a grave error (because was false) and it was however against Tradition (there was an ancient belief on that topic).

    His statement was not a pure opinion but a real teaching. He had the will of teach. He exposed his ideas as a teaching. He finally changed his mind, exactly because he was corrected.

    You affirmed that a Pope cannot teach a grave error. This is not true, as proved by the historical case of John XXII.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It was not a grave error because it was an open question at the time. Discussing and opining on open questions, even if you err, is not grave. St. Thomas erred on the Immaculate Conception. But it was an open question at the time, so we don’t accuse him of heresy or grave error. Pope John stated that it was opinion, and permitted public disagreement, so it was not a teaching. No souls were harmed by this error. No one was led astray into grave sin or away from salvation. And no one has the authority to correct the Pope. He had in mind from the beginning to discuss the question openly, and make a decision one way or the other. He decided correctly.

  4. Ron Conte says:


    Your comments are no longer welcome on this blog, on any subject, as you have falsely accused a Pope of heresy, in contradiction to the dogma of Vatican I and the ancient teaching of the Church as stated at length here:
    The Roman Pontiff: Immunity from Error and Never-failing Faith

    Your most recent attempted comment was declined by me because it contained many false assertions about Pope John XXII.

  5. sircliges says:

    Why? I did not accused John XXII of formal heresy. I told his story, quoting historical sources. Approve my comment, please, and point which are the false assertions.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The comment has been deleted. It had so many problems, I would have to write a long article to explain and refute all the errors. It was not a fair or accurate recounting of what happened. You did accuse him of heresy. I think you said, not formal heresy but substantively heresy. Popes are immune from grave errors on faith and morals; they also have a never failing faith, and that is dogma:
      The Roman Pontiff: Immunity from Error and Never-failing Faith

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