Each and every valid Roman Pontiff, from Peter to Francis and beyond has the divinely-conferred charism of truth and never failing faith. A Pope is necessarily the valid Roman Pontiff who is accepted by the body of Bishops as the successor of Peter. Every teaching of every Pope is either infallible, with no possibility of error, or non-infallible, with no possibility of grave error. And every teaching of every Ecumenical Council is infallible, without exception.
The Church has two swords, the teaching authority and the temporal authority. The Church therefore has authority over doctrine and discipline. And each Pope has this dual authority. While teachings can never err gravely, decision on discipline and judgments of the prudential order, which fall under the temporal authority, can be infallible — these decisions are termed “dogmatic facts” — or non-infallible. And the non-infallible decisions of the temporal authority are also kept free from grave error, that is, free from any error that would be spiritually grave, or that would harm the Church or the path of salvation.
The Church is indefectible. She can never go astray, lead astray, or be taken over by evil, by evil forces, by the devil, by the Antichrist, by the false prophet, or by any type of conspiracy or evil organization.
The Pope is indefectible. Even if the Pope should happen to sin gravely, personally, his teachings are no less reliable, nor are his decisions on discipline any less reliable. And the gift of truth and never failing faith means that no Pope has ever, and no Pope can ever teach material heresy or commit formal heresy.
The body of Bishops is indefectible, but only as a body, not individually. They have a similar charism of truth and never-failing faith, only as a body, and only as long as they remain in communion with the Pope, and as long as they accept the Pope as their head.
The truths of the Catholic faith are based on Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium. These are the three pillars of truth. The Church is able to teach from natural law, and She teaches and interprets the natural law just as divine law, with the same surety of judgment and understanding.
The infallible teachings of the Church require the full assent of faith, under pain of heresy and automatic excommunication. The non-infallible teachings of the Church require more than mere respect; they require the religious submission of will and intellect.
The teachings of Pope Francis contain no grave errors. The teachings of the recent Popes contain no grave errors. The Church has not been infiltrated by evil, nor by modernism, nor by any other harmful thing. She remains the spotless Bride. The teachings of the Second Vatican Council are infallible. There has never been found any errors in those teachings.
Whoever rejects the teachings of Pope Francis or of the Second Vatican Council commits the sin of schism. Whoever rejects the teaching of any Ecumenical Council commits the sin of heresy. Whoever accuses any Pope, throughout the history of the Church, of heresy commits the sin of heresy. These sins of heresy or schism are either material or formal. Whoever accuses any Pope of apostasy, heresy, or schism, or of idolatry, sacrilege, or blasphemy contradicts the dogmatic teaching of Vatican I and commits at least material heresy, as well as schism.
Whatever Pope Francis teaches, we should accept. Whatever the body of Bishops teaches, with the approval of the Pope, we should accept. We should not denigrate any Pope. We should not accuse any Pope of grave sin. It is particularly sinful to use the mass media to spread accusation against Popes and Councils to many persons, and to lead others into these same grave sins.
Are you a faithful traditionalist or conservatives priest? If you think that any Pope has ever, or can ever teach or commit heresy, you are not so faithful. Too many persons on the right in the Church have erred by putting their trust in particular leaders, instead of the Magisterium.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.