I believe that the papal accusers will soon claim that Pope Francis has lost his validity, and they will declare that he is an invalid Pope or antipope. This article proves otherwise (as does my book: Reply to the Papal Accusers)
The Apostolic Primacy has the character of permanence. The Church will never cease to have Roman Pontiffs, one after another: vertical permanence. But also, each Pontificate continues unceasingly until death or resignation: horizontal permanence. Once valid, always valid. No Roman Pontiff can lose his validity, because he is the Rock on which the indefectible Church is founded. If a Pope could become invalid, then he would not be a Rock, as he could at any moment turn into Sand by that loss of validity.
If a Pope could become invalid, then we would not know which teachings were of the Magisterium, and therefore of Christ, as perhaps the Pope lost his validity before or in that teaching. If a Pope could become invalid, then we would not know which teachings of Ecumenical Councils to trust, as Councils have nearly taught heresy, except for the refusal of the Roman Pontiff to approve those teachings (Haec Sancta, Chalcedon’s Canon 28; Constantinople III’s condemnation of Honorius for heresy). The permanence of the successor of Peter is absolutely essential to the indefectibility of the Church, and the trustworthiness of the Magisterium.
What if the conclave were invalid? Even in the case of an invalid conclave, once the Roman Pontiff is accepted by the body of Bishops as the successor of Peter, as the Head of the body of Bishops and of the universal Church, then he becomes the valid Roman Pontiff. For the body of Bishops cannot go astray by following a false head; that would imply that the Church had defected, which is contrary to dogma. The indefectibility of the Church and the acceptance of the new Pope as Roman Pontiff by the body of Bishops “heals in the root” any failings or even total invalidity of the conclave.
The Antipope Vigilius ruled from Rome, while the true Pope, Silverius, was in exile. When Silverius died, the Roman clergy and people, and the body of Bishops accepted Vigilius as the true Pope, despite no conclave or election at all, and his previous status as an antipope who taught manifest heresy. Once he became true Pope, the grace of God converted him, just as Jesus promised in Lk 22:32, into a Rock of never-failing faith.
Each Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith. Therefore, no valid Roman Pontiff can ever teach or commit heresy, nor commit apostasy or idolatry, nor err gravely in doctrine or discipline, so much so that there can never be a valid reason for declaring any Roman Pontiff to be invalid or deposed. Every Roman Pontiff accused of grave failings of faith in the history of the Church was innocent, as a matter of dogmatic fact. For the First Vatican Council and the ordinary universal Magisterium teach that every Pope has the charism of never-failing faith and that the Apostolic See is always unblemished by any grave error.
Therefore, Pope Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff. He has been accepted for many years as the valid successor of Peter. He has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith. His Apostolic See has the perpetual help of the Holy Spirit to be free from every grave error in doctrine and discipline. Christ and His Vicar, Pope Francis, constitute one only Head of the one indefectible Church. As the indefectible head of the indefectible Church, Pope Francis cannot lose his validity by any grave error or failing in faith.
The deposition of a Roman Pontiff is impossible, as the prevenient grace of God preserves him from every grave error in doctrine and discipline, and from every grave failure of faith. For the same reason, no Roman Pontiff can lose his office by teaching or committing heresy, or by apostasy or idolatry or any other grave offense.
And we know that Popes are fallen sinners. Some Popes sinned gravely in personal matters. But we also know that the fathers and doctors and Saints are unanimous in holding that no matter how personally sinful a Pope may be, he is still the valid successor of Peter. So there is no sense in bearing false witness against a Pope, accusing him of grave personal sins, with the goal of removing him from office. Sinful Popes have the full authority of Christ.
As for the claim that Pope Francis has an interior disposition against the Faith, that he desires, plans, or is attempting to corrupt or destroy the faith — that is contrary to the charism of never-failing faith. The prevenient grace of God absolutely keeps every Pope from such a sin. For anyone else who committed such a sin, even merely desiring to destroy or corrupt the true Faith, would lose their infused virtue of faith. And that is not possible given the gift of never-failing faith to each Pope from Christ Jesus.
Pope Francis has been accepted by the body of Bishops as the successor of Peter, and so he is the valid Roman Pontiff. Pope Francis has the papal charisms, and therefore he can never lose his validity, until death or valid resignation.
1. Supreme Authority
2. Judged by God alone
3. Absence of Appeal
4. Principle of Unity
5. One Head of the one Church
6. Rock of the Indefectible Church
7. Charism of Truth and of Never-failing faith
8. The Apostolic See is unblemished by grave error
9. Free from all heresy, he judges heretics
10. Papal Infallibility
11. Perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit
12. Subjection to him is from the necessity of salvation
Ronald L. Conte Jr.