Pope Francis, at Assisi, will teach that non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, and non-believers can be in a state of grace and can go to Heaven without converting to Catholicism, to Christianity or even to belief in God. This teaching is true. It is proven in my book: Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone. I really think that Catholics will need this book in order to understand the controversial teaching coming out soon at Assisi. It will help you defend the Faith and defend the teaching of the Pope. And I can’t explain the contents of the book in this blog thoroughly enough. Sometimes you just have to read a book. If nothing else, consider the money spent on the book a type of donation to my work here.
Pope Francis may use Papal Infallibility to teach that doctrine. But the other possibility, which is perhaps more likely, is that reaction to the ensuing controversy and outcry from conservatives against this teaching, he will reply with a second document, one that asserts the teaching infallibly.
Pope Francis absolutely will NOT permit the papal accusers to claim that his teaching in All Brothers is heresy. He will not back down. He will not permit the widespread rejection of that teaching and the widespread claim that the teaching is heresy. It is too important.
Then conservative Catholics will have to choose between accepting the teaching or rejecting Pope Francis as Pope. There will be no other options. Some persons will try to claim that the teaching does not meet the conditions for Papal Infallibility. But too many theologians, even conservative ones, will weigh in with the assessment that it does meet the criteria. So that means that either the teaching is true, since it meets the conditions for Papal Infallibility, or Pope Francis is not a valid Pope.
Theories that would make Pope Francis an invalid Roman Pontiff:
1. Invalid Baptism – According to the example of the Matthew Hood, of the archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan, an invalid baptism implies that the Sacraments received subsequently are also invalid, including Confirmation and Orders. Invalid Orders then would imply that Sacraments administered by that person, other than Baptism (and some marriage cases) , are invalid, including ordaining priests and bishops.
So in this theory, if a Pope was not validly baptized, then he was not validly ordained. And in order to be a valid Roman Pontiff, one must meet three conditions: be a validly ordained Bishop, validly elected, and accept the office freely.
If Pope Francis was not validly baptized, then he was not validly ordained, and then he is not a valid Roman Pontiff. To remedy that situation, he would have to be baptized, confirmed, receive first Eucharist and Confession, and receive Orders as Bishop and then be elected by a conclave. But the conclave would be under no obligation to choose Pope Francis. So if he is not validly baptized, he is basically out for good. I don’t think a new conclave would elect him, and if it did, I don’t think he would accept the office.
My Reply: I believe that an invalid Baptism does not prevent Orders from being valid, if the invalidity of the Baptism was unknown at the time of the reception of Orders. So he would still be a valid Bishop, if his baptism was invalid.
2. Invalid Orders – If Pope Francis were not validly raised to the episcopal degree, he would not be a valid Pope. However, this does not have any basis, as Pope Francis was consecrated a Bishop by the conservative Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who was also at the time a Cardinal, Antonio Quarracino.
3. Invalid Election – If Pope Francis is a validly ordained Bishop, then he could be an invalid Pope by an invalid election. One of the three conditions for a person to be a valid Pope, as stated in Universi Dominici Gregis, is that he be validly elected.
There are claims that the election of Pope Francis was manipulated by the St. Gallen Mafia. And one might argue that the manipulation of the election, and the discussion and agreement in advance of whom one would elect would make the election canonically invalid.
The problem, of course, is that all conclaves are subject to such claims, which can never be disproven, placing the validity of all Popes and therefore of all Councils in doubt, and thereby endangering the whole Faith. So I agree with Saint Robert Bellarmine, that once the body of Bishops accepts a Bishop as the Roman Pontiff, he is the valid Pope, even if his election were invalid. The authority to elect each Roman Pontiff resides in the body of Bishops, even though it is expressed by the conclave of Cardinals. And since the Church is indefectible, the body of Bishops can never go astray or lead the faithful astray by following a false or invalid Pope. And this implies, necessarily, as surely as it is true that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, as surely as it is true that the Church is the body of Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior, that Pope Francis is a valid Roman Pontiff. It is a dogmatic fact that he is the valid Roman Pontiff, and that dogmatic fact is based on the aforementioned dogmas of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church, the indefectibility of the Church, and that the Church is the body of Christ.
4. Loss of Validity – Another possible claim is that Pope Francis may have been validly elected, and may have been the valid Pope, but that he lost his validity by teaching heresy. This is refuted by my past posts saying that No valid Pope can teach or commit heresy.
The idea here is that Papal Infallibility is unbreakable; whatever is taught is certainly true, without any error — unless the teaching is heresy. In that case, the Pope then becomes cut off from the Church, by reason of the act of heresy, and is no longer a member and therefore no longer the head of the Church. And since he is no longer Pope, his teaching cannot fall under Papal Infallibility.
That claim is erroneous because it makes Papal Infallibility useless. The ability of the successor of Peter to teach infallibly secures the Faith and the path of salvation. If infallible teachings can be heresy, and thereby lose their infallibility, then nothing the Church teaches can be certain. You could make the same claim about the infallible teaching of Ecumenical Councils. The result is that nothing is true, unless the particular believer decides it is true. And then the faithful are not relying upon the Church, but only themselves. And that’s not Catholicism. Or Christianity.
So it cannot be true that a valid Pope can lose his validity, by any means other than valid resignation or death.
5. Removal by an Ecumenical Council – Can Pope Francis, valid or not, be removed by the Bishops? Can they call a Council and judge him guilty of heresy, and thereby remove him? No, such a process is excluded by the teaching of the First Vatican Council. Such a claim is heresy.
“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, and that, in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction, recourse may be had to his judgment. 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. 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.” [Pastor Aeternus, chapter 3, n. 8; see also Unam Sanctam]
Pope Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff, and there is no possibility that he is an invalid pope or an antipope. This is a dogmatic fact, and it is based upon infallible teachings of the Magisterium, the contrary of which is heresy. Whosoever rejects the validity of Pope Francis commits the sin of formal schism and is automatically excommunicated.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.