They sin gravely who insult the Pope

Is an insult only a venial sin? Often it would be. But if the insult is said to anyone with malice, it is an actual mortal sin, no matter how slightly worded. Malice is always objectively grave, as it is incompatible with the state of grace, which is the state of loving God and neighbor. When chosen with full knowledge and full consent of the will, it is an actual mortal sin.

Many persons who claim to be criticizing Pope Francis are actually just expressing malice toward him openly and publicly. They state no specific criticism. They offer no theological argument. They just insult him, often viciously, and accuse him of very grave sins, contrary to dogma.

Supposing that some of these papal accusers have no malice, they still sin gravely when they publicly insult the Roman Pontiff. Especially today, where public expressions are spread very widely via modern media, many souls are harmed by these insults. The harm done is grave, even when the insult is not particularly severe, because it encourages others to insult the pope many times over, often with greater severity. The end result is that persons no longer trust the current Roman Pontiff.

And we have seen the dominos that fall when that happens. They lose faith in past Popes, for if the current Pope can err, than any Pope can err. If the current Pope can teach or commit heresy, then they all can. And next they lose faith in Ecumenical Councils, which have no validity apart from the Roman Pontiff. Finally, they lose faith in the Church herself, accusing her of having been infiltrated by Satan.

Here is what Pope Francis teaches on calumny. And he knows that many are uttering calumny against himself as well as others.

NCRonline: Christians who engage in calumny are like those responsible for the martyrdom of St. Stephen; they chose “the pettiest solution to annihilate a human being: slander and false witness,” the pope said Sept. 25 during his weekly general audience.

“We know that calumny always kills,” he said. “This ‘diabolical cancer’ of calumny – born from a desire to destroy a person’s reputation – also assaults the rest of the ecclesial body and seriously damages it when, for petty interests or to cover their own faults, (people) unite to sully someone.” [Calumny, slander is a ‘diabolical cancer,’ pope says; Sep 25, 2019]

If you think that the Pope has erred in some limited way, why not write a theological argument? Present your case. Treat the Roman Pontiff with respect and love, as he is your Teacher and Shepherd chosen by Christ. Yes, every single Roman Pontiff is chosen by God, for whatever ineffable reasons the Divine Wisdom might have. And every Roman Pontiff has the gifts of immunity from all error when speaking infallibly (Papal Infallibility, Conciliar Infallibility, Ordinary and universal Magisterium, dogmatic facts), and immunity from grave error at all other times, and a never failing faith. A Pope can sin mortally, in his personal life, but in all that concerns the Church he is protected from grave error. Additionally, even in his personal life, he cannot commit apostasy, heresy, or schism, as his faith is never failing. And all this is accomplished by the prevenient grace of God, which no man can resist.

As an example, I’ve written several posts on the death penalty here. I don’t accuse Pope Francis of any grave error. I mildly disagree with him that the death penalty is presently always inadmissible. I would say that the death penalty is still needed in some exceptional cases, but that we should generally set it aside for most cases where it has been used in the past.

Is it necessary to treat the Pope like a political enemy, and conclude that he has committed heresy or apostasy, merely because you have a different view on an open question? By the promise and grace of Christ, each Roman Pontiff is free from grave error, even when teaching non-infallibly, and is absolutely incapable of apostasy, heresy, or schism. But each of the Pope’s critics, even the Cardinals and Bishops individually and in small groups, have no such gifts. They can err to any extent, even to committing schism, heresy, or apostasy.

We cannot fail or go astray by taking the side of the Pope, accepting him as our Teacher and Shepherd, and rebuffing all his accusers.

Those who insult the Pope, sin gravely. Those who accuse the Pope of grave error, err gravely. Those who accuse the Pope of heresy, commit heresy. Those who accuse the Pope of apostasy, commit apostasy. Those who treat the Pope with contempt, risk the fires of Hell.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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7 Responses to They sin gravely who insult the Pope

  1. franciscofigueroa1 says:

    St. Ambrose of Milan taught “Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia” (Where Peter is, there is the Church).

    Pope St. Paul VI, in his Apostolic Letter – Solemni Hac Liturgia – Credo of the People of God # 20, teaches: “… founded upon the apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus.”

    Pope St. John Paul II, in his Wednesday, 30 May 1979 General Audience taught: “She [the Church] was born on the cross on Good Friday—as the Fathers teach; she revealed this birth of hers to the world on the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles were “clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49); when they were “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). “Ubi enim Ecclesia, ibi et Spiritus Dei; ubi Spiritus Dei, illic Ecclesia et omnis gratia: Spiritus autem veritas” (Where the Church is, there is also the Spirit of God; and where the spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace: the Spirit is truth.”) (St Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, II, 24, 1: PG 7, 966.)”

    • Ron Conte says:

      I’m adding those quotes to my list of sources in support of the Roman Pontiff. Thanks.

    • Sure, happy to collaborate.

    • jong says:

      Nice quotes..I think Ron article already complete the puzzle in Ab.Fulton Sheen prophecy, St.JP2 description of the Final Confrontation and the Church embraced destiny in CCC675.
      1. We now see a “mystical body of the Antichrist” in full display of schism.
      2. We are now seeing a full display of apostasy by the Dubia Cardinals et,al and their followers willfully rejecting the authentic Magisterium teachings of Pope Francis. How the apostasy was committed? Vatican II was inspired by the Holy Spirit to preach the Mercy of God to all souls without exception. The Vatican II Church will take on it’s New Face by it’s New Mission carrying a New Evangelization by preaching and witnessing the Mercy of God.
      The “mystical body of Antichrist” are opposing and undermining the preaching of the Mercy of God to atheist, Jews, Hindus & Buddhist, other Christian faith,LGBTQ, convicted criminals sentenced to death penalty, couples in irregular unions and now on the indeginuous people in the Amazon. Vatican II was inspired to call all mankind into Human Fraternity and solidarity with aim of not proselytizing but by witnessing. This people who would accept to journey as brother will either become good in their faith or they will convert to Catholicsm because they not only see but they experience the “love, compassion and mercy” of Christ in our witnessing.
      Satan hates the mercy of God, his human cohorts are opposing the teachings og Pope Francis centered on the Mercy of God and it was rooted in the Vatican II Documents and Vatican II Popes developmental teachings.
      3. So, we have a schismatic mystical body of the Antichrist that are commiting apostasy opposing the beating heart of the gospel which is Divine Mercy. (Misericordiae Vultus paragraph12). The only missing is “revolt”. Is the 40 Days Prayer Crusade a form of “revolt”. If it is a revolt rehearsal then we can expect that this will now be the direction of the Rad Trads, they will launch a series of “revolt” in disguised of Prayer Crusades and when the “grand revolt” comes, the “son of perdiion” will come out and they will elect their own pope that will become the Antipope and this Antipope will be indwelt by Satan to become the Antichrist.
      CCC675 is now in the horizon, the Clan of Trads are now uniting forming the “mystical body of the Antichrist”..But ofcourse Mama Mary will also unite the True Marian faithfuls to rally behind Pope Francis, one True Marian warriors are the Cenacle Warriors inspired by Our Lady to Fr.Stefano Gobbi who are expecting the Second Pentecost to come soon, perhaps in the 5oth anniversary of the MMP this coming 2022 coinciding with the World Youth Day at Fatima. I’m expecting the Second Pentecost to happen in the year 2022 and the Consecration of Russia by Pope Francis right at the very ground of Fatima apparition in 2022.
      Check this link Ron;
      The Second Pentecost can be read in message no.284 of the Blue Book of MMP, which have a downloadable PDF copy.
      Who do you think will be the antipope among the schismatics prelates? Ab.Vigano or Cardinal Burke if they become successful in their “revolt”?

    • Ron Conte says:

      The Antichrist does not rise up in this generation. That is for the distant future. And his false prophet is the leader over his false church. Neither of them is ever Pope or antipope over the Catholic Church.

  2. Alex says:

    Yes, I cannot understand why no one of those ultra conservatives questions a word of cardinal Burke who dared to call a legitimate synod of hundreds of bishops ‘a direct attack on the Lordship of Christ’. The same is with cardinal Sarah (who wanted ALL ordinary masses to face “east” that is an absurd from every point of view), with cardinal Muller ( who called “dogmas” things that are not dogmas, such as the question about the married priests), with archbishop Vigano and Schneider who attacked the pope much worse than the Kremlin communists had ever done… As if those people have the entire complete truth “of the Catholic Church created by Jesus Christ” as the ultraconservatives say, while in fact they are ONLY a dozen of bishops among 5,000 Catholic bishops. And when the numbers are being raised, the answer is always, “see St Athanasius how he opposed the pope, and it was he who was right, not the pope!”

    The story of St Athanasius is a bit different, he had the defense of pope Julius I against the emperor the son of Constantine, as well as against many other supporters of Arius. I don’t know why in the popular culture it had remained as a dispute between Athanasius and the pope. Let me say, today’s accusers of the pope (and of the rest of 5,000 bishops) fall short of the sanctity of St Athanasius! He defended his view on the Dogmas from the clearly defined position of God’s Love. Today’s accusers defend their views that are NOT DOGMATIC, from the position of the letter, a letter that had been changed many times since the time of the apostles (who were married for example, thus negating the entire medieval arguments of only celibate priests). It is ultimately a position of restricting God’s Love, interpreted solely into their narrow minded understanding.

    That has nothing to do with any of the greatest saints in the past. Would St Padre Pio encourage the REVOLT in the Catholic Church? Because they use to say, Padre Pio served the old mass… St Paul VI allowed for the old priests to continue serving the old mass. That doesn’t mean that St Pio opposed anything from Vatican II or from St Paul VI. As far as I know the story, Padre Pio urged his sister, a nun, to obey all the changes made by St Paul VI.

  3. Saint and Doctor of the Church Ambrose of Milan’s teaching “Where Peter is, there is the Church” was made a Magisterial teaching in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document “The Primacy of The Successor of Peter in the Mystery of The Church # 3 n2.

    This same document ends with the following: “We are all invited to trust in the Holy Spirit, to trust in Christ, by trusting in Peter.”

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