Pope John XXII is often accused of heresy. His innocence is easy to prove to anyone who has faith.
1. It is a DOGMA of the faith (proven here) that every Pope has the gift of immunity from grave error and the gift of a never-failing faith. Immunity from grave error means he cannot teach heresy; never-failing faith means he cannot commit apostasy, heresy, or schism. Whoever says otherwise commits the sin of heresy themselves, by rejecting this dogma.
“But let me explain to you to my clever scholarly argument proving some Pope is a heretic!”
“Let me explain to you what the word ‘faith’ means.”
2. John was not contradicting a DOGMA. The infallible teaching of the Church on when the faithful departed receive the Beatific Vision of God was issued by his successor, Benedict XII. When there is no infallible teaching of the Magisterium, there is no formal dogma.
Heresy is not an idea contrary to truths found in Tradition or Scripture, but rather an idea contrary to truths found in Tradition or Scripture AND confirmed by the Magisterium infallibly.
“The Pope committed heresy by contradicting a truth of Tradition!”
“That’s not what heresy is, you idiots.”
Tradition and Scripture are open to varying interpretations, until the Magisterium defines a dogma. Even a non-infallible teaching of the Magisterium might be subject to later reform, which is why non-infallible teachings are called non-irreformable (Donum Veritatis 28). So if a Pope contradicts your understanding of Tradition, and you call him a heretic, that’s not heresy. That’s you pretending to be God.
3. John proposed his opinion on the Beatific Vision as opinion, not even as a non-infallible teaching. He permitted open disagreement. When some theologians tried to use his sermons on the subject to silence the opposition, John intervened to permit the contrary opinion. And he was making preparations for a final decision on the subject by consulting many persons.
It is a false narrative to say that he was teaching heresy, and was finally corrected on his death bed.
4. Saint Robert Bellarmine on John XXII:
“John, at that time, really thought that souls would not see God unless it were after the resurrection: others so reckoned when still it was lawful without danger of heresy, since still no definition of the Church had gone before him. John, moreover, wished to define the question, but while still preparing and in consultations, died, as Benedict XII, his successor, witnessed….”
“Furthermore, John Villanus relates that Pope John, before his death, partly declared and even partly recanted his opinion. First, it is on good evidence that he never had it in his mind, although he had spoken on this matter, to define the question, rather only to treat to discover the truth. Next, he added that John already thought the opinion was the more probable, that asserts the souls of the blessed enjoy the divine vision even before the day of judgment, and he embraced this opinion, unless at some time the Church would have defined otherwise, and he subjected all his teachings freely to its definition. This retraction simply teaches that the mind of Pope John XXII was always good and Catholic.”
“Benedict XII, in his Extravagantes, asserts that Pope John severely commanded the Cardinals and others, all teachers, that they should sincerely give their opinion, that the truth could be discovered.”
“He retracted his opinion the day before he died, but by the advice of those close to him, not at the command of the king. Nor is it true that John was compelled to repent, and it is much less true that it happened in the presence of King Philip.”
Bellarmine, Robert. Papal Error?: A Defense of Popes said to have Erred in Faith (p. 104-108). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
5. Whosoever accuses any Pope of teaching or committing heresy is guilty of heresy themselves by contradicting a dogma of the faith, defined by the First Vatican Council. Moreover, anyone who accuses the current Roman Pontiff of heresy commits the sin of schism, as no one who considers a man to be a heretic also accepts that man as Teacher and Shepherd.
Those Catholics who say “resist” are guilty of schism. It is not sufficient for submission to the Roman Pontiff that one acknowledge a man to be the true Pope. Even an atheist might admit the same. Submission to the doctrine and discipline of the Roman Pontiff means accepting his decisions as authoritative and generally true and correct, and accepting his person as Teacher and Shepherd.
On Pope Francis: if a conservative Pope is elected next, those who fell into schism under Pope Francis remain under schism, until they accept Francis as Teacher and Shepherd, and admit that he never taught any grave error on faith or morals, and never made any gravely erroneous decision on discipline.
6. Heretics and schismatics are not welcome to comment on my blog.
“No, but listen to me! I’m right in my own mind by my own judgment!”
“Faith is setting aside one’s own mind and judgment, so as to submit to the mind of Christ, through His Vicar. If you don’t have faith, stay away from me.”
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