Contra Timothy Gordon on the Wickedness of Any Pope

YouTube enthusiast Timothy Gordon opines that Pope Francis is the worst and most wicked Pope ever. How does he know the soul of the Pope? More importantly, is it possible that God permits wicked Popes to be the Head of the Church and of the Apostolic College?

Papal Sins

All agree that Popes can commit mortal sin. However, the Church has dogmatic teachings regarding the Roman Pontiff and the papal charisms, that is, the divinely-conferred gifts that assist the Pope in teaching, guiding, and sanctifying the Church. And these teachings limit the extent to which a Pope can speak or act against the Faith. In particular, God does not permit any Roman Pontiff to gravely harm the indefectibility of the Church. No Pope can cause the Church to go astray or to lead astray. What if a Pope really badly wants to harm the indefectibility of the Church? He cannot do so, because of the promise of Christ in Mt 16:18 (“the gates of Hell…”). Therefore, certain mortal sins are not permitted by God in the Roman Pontiff.

A Pope can sin mortally and, if he refuses to repent through the last moment of his life, he could be punished forever in Hell. God permits mortal sins and loss of salvation in the Roman Pontiffs because, as chief preachers of the path of salvation, they themselves must also follow that same path to be saved. But this does not imply that every possible mortal sin is permitted to the Roman Pontiff. The indefectibility of the Church requires that the prevenient grace of God, which no one can resist, preserves the Roman Pontiffs from certain sins. For when teaching us on the indefectibility of the Church, the Lord Jesus also taught that the indefectible Church is founded on Peter and his successors as on a Rock. This means that the Roman Pontiff is also, in some sense, indefectible.

{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

Popes cannot teach or commit heresy; they cannot err gravely on doctrine or discipline. These charisms are taught by the ordinary universal Magisterium and by the First Vatican Council. See the summary of teachings here. Some sins are not permitted in the Roman Pontiffs for the sake of the Church. But does God permit wickedness in Popes? To what extent?

Certainly, a Pope who sins mortally and does not soon repent can be said to be wicked. However, for private sins, even those that are mortal, it is not the place of the faithful to inquire and judge. And fallen sinners are not fit to judge the interior state of the Pope’s soul, especially since, if the Pope should teach, rule, judge, or even opine contrary to one’s own opinion, one might be biased in saying that the Pope has sinned personally and privately. So if the Pope sins privately, it is for his friends or a fellow Bishop or relative, or certainly his confessor, to address the subject, if it is addressed at all. Most personal sins are simply between you and your conscience and God.

But the question for this article is whether the papal charisms preserve the Roman Pontiffs from a certain type of wickedness, related to indefectibility. I argue that the papal charisms, including the charism of truth and of never-failing faith and the Pope as the Rock on which is founded the indefectible Church, guarantee that the Pope will not commit a certain type of wickedness, that contrary to the Faith. The Pope cannot desire, intend, plan, or attempt to corrupt the Faith, or harm the path of salvation, or anything else contrary to the indefectibility of the Church and the never-failing faith of the Pope. This type of wickedness has never been known in any Roman Pontiff, and is absolutely guaranteed by Christ to be prevented. For even in fallen sinners with free will, God has the right and power to exempt certain decisions from the power of that free will. God gives you life, but He can take it away. God gives you free will, and he can limit it. In addition, each Roman Pontiff freely takes up his office, and he can freely lay it down. But while he is Roman Pontiff, God requires certain limits of him.

{4:21} And the Lord said to him, as he was returning to Egypt: “See that you accomplish, in the sight of Pharaoh, all the wonders that I have placed in your hand. I will harden his heart, and he will not release the people.

And when finally the Lord had accomplished all of the miracles that He had decided, the Lord changed the heart of Pharaoh to permit the release of the Israelites. So God, by prevenient grace, which is God operating not cooperating, can prevent one action, or require another. God can prevent sin with prevenient grace, as when the holy souls in Purgatory no longer commit any sins at all, even though they do not have the Beatific Vision of God. Therefore, God can prevent the Roman Pontiff from certain types of sins, from certain types of wickedness, for the sake of the Church and our salvation.

Timothy Gordon’s Position

Timothy Gordon called Pope Francis “the worst Pope ever” and “deeply wicked” and “a wicked Pontiff” in this video: “Can a Pope be the Antichrist? with Michael Lofton,” April 22, 2021.

Gordon had this to say: “We all know Francis is wicked…. I think he’s the worst Pope ever. I think he’s deeply wicked. I think he’s deeply, deeply, deeply, in bed with the globalists.” Then Gordon states that whether or not the Pope is the Antichrist is a different question. “Just because someone is a wicked pontiff that is quite evidently plainly collaborating with the enemies of the Church at summit after summit, that doesn’t make him the Antichrist.”

First, Gordon cannot see the soul of the Pope. He also does not know what the Pope does, except what is reported. So he lacks sufficient information to make the judgment that he does make. Then for the Head of the Church to be collaborating with the enemies of the Church would contradict infallibility and never-failing faith. So that cannot be the case, per dogma not per my personal evaluation. For the charism of never-failing faith is given to the soul of the Roman Pontiff, and that gift encompasses intentions, desires, and interior plans; it is not merely a gift of exterior words and deeds. The never-failing faith of the Pope is prior to intention, as it is the infused virtue of faith from Christ. Therefore, intentions contrary to never-failing faith are prevented.

The Roman Pontiff cannot be the Antichrist because of several Catholic dogmas. First, the Pope is the head of the Church and the head of the Apostolic college (the body of Bishops). If the Pope were the Antichrist, or the false prophet of the Antichrist, then the Church would not be indefectible. The indefectibility of the Church cannot be broken. The gates of Hell — which surely includes the kingdom of the Antichrist — will never prevail over the Church. So the Pope, as the head of the Church, is never the Antichrist, or the false prophet, or in league with them.

So that is one limit on how wicked the Pope can be. During the time of the Antichrist, the Roman Pontiff cannot be even a supporter of the Antichrist. That would mean the Church had defected, since the Roman Pontiff is the Head of the Church.

But the dogmas on the Roman Pontiff go further. The Pope is not merely the Head in the sense of a President or Governor or other political leader. The Pope is one head with Christ of the Ark of Salvation. The Pope is the visible head of the Church, and Christ is the invisible Head of the Church. But Christ and His Vicar are ONE only head. Pope Pius XII states the dogma this way:

Pope Pius XII: “Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in view of his primacy is only Christ’s Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.” [Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 40]

Unam Sanctam was approved and confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council, making its teaching infallible. In any case, Unam Sanctam is often cited as an example of Papal Infallibility. And then Pope Pius XII states that “his successors have never ceased to repeat the same”, making this the perennial teaching of the Church, that is, a teaching of the ordinary universal Magisterium. And the teaching is that the Pope and the Lord Jesus are united as one Head of the one Church. Then this dogma has important consequences, specifically certain limits on error and sin in the Pope.

This union of Christ and His Vicar is accomplished in the Holy Spirit. For Christ sent the Holy Spirit upon the Church to make even the Church on earth, comprised of so many sinners, part of His holy Body. And so this union as one Head limits the errors and sins possible in each Roman Pontiff, as related to the purpose of the Roman Pontiff: to be the Rock of never-failing faith on which the indefectible Church is founded, and to teach, guide, and sanctify us unto salvation.

The First Vatican Council taught that each Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith.

“This charism of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.” [Pastor Aeternus, chapter 4, n. 7]

If the charism of truth and faith permitted heresy or any grave error on doctrine or discipline, then the whole flock would not be kept from the poisonous food of error and instead be nourished with heavenly doctrine. This charism absolutely prevents any Roman Pontiff from teaching or committing heresy. But it also prevents every Roman Pontiff from erring gravely on doctrine or discipline. Moreover, this charism of never-failing faith was not a new teaching at Vatican I. It has been taught along with the other papal charisms, since the earliest days of the Church. The Apostolic See is free from every grave error on both doctrine and discipline.

But isn’t it widely accepted that Popes can teach or commit heresy? That is a common misconception. I’ve covered this extensively elsewhere, but briefly, Vatican I considered the case of Pope Honorius I, which is the strongest case for an heretical Pope, and decided not only that he was innocent, but that Popes by the charism of never-failing faith can never teach or commit heresy. Then the Council took the words of Pope Saint Agatho, writing to the Sixth Ecumenical Council in defense of Honorius, and wrote his defense of Honorius into Pastor Aeternus, chapter 4, n. 6. Then the Relatio of Vatican I also confirms that the charism of truth and of never-failing faith means that Popes cannot teach or commit heresy.

Prevention of Interior Wickedness

Is Gordon right that a Pope, any Pope, might possibly be deeply wicked, in the sense of a wickedness that is utterly contrary to the Faith, a wickedness that is in bed with the enemies of the Church, seeking to corrupt the indefectible Faith? A Pope can sin mortally and not repent. But certain sins are not permitted. A Pope cannot be a supporter of the Antichrist. A Pope cannot lose his faith and become a Muslim or an atheist. Why not? Never-failing faith. Vatican I taught the dogma that the Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith. He can never teach heresy or commit heresy — or apostasy or idolatry or any other grave failure of faith. And the Pope cannot be guilty of manipulating faithful Catholics into committing schism. Neither can a Pope intend to corrupt the Faith, not even in a plan that utterly fails. For the mere intention by the Roman Pontiff to corrupt the Faith is contrary to the charism of never-failing faith and contrary to the indefectibility of the Church — which indefectibility is established by means of Peter and his successors. The gates of Hell cannot prevail over the Church precisely because She is founded on Peter and his successors.

So every type of wickedness that is contrary to the indefectibility of the Church or contrary to the incorruptibility of the Faith is prevented in every Roman Pontiff, no matter how sinful or holy he might be. Otherwise, the Church would not be indefectible. Otherwise, the Roman Pontiff would not be the Rock on which the incorruptible Faith is founded. Otherwise, the Pope would not have a never-failing faith. Otherwise, Christ and His Vicar would not constitute one only Head of the one Church. For Christ can still be one Head with a Pope who sins personally, but who continues in never-failing faith. The unity of Christ and His Vicar concerns the Church and the Faith. (Then the other type of unity, by which the Trinity dwells in those in a state of grace, depends on the usual conditions for habitual grace.)

You might propose a situation where a Pope is wicked and wishes to corrupt the Faith, but God prevents him, at the last moment, as it were. But we are talking about the body of Christ, with Christ as Her Head and the Holy Spirit as Her soul. A Pope who intends to corrupt the Faith or lead the Church astray, even merely as an intention that fails, is incompatible with the papal charisms. The Pope has supreme authority over doctrine and discipline. He judges all and is judged by none. There is no appeal from his decisions. It would not be fitting, and would be dangerous to the path of salvation and contrary to indefectibility for a person with such authority to be permitted by God to intend to corrupt the Faith and only be stopped at the last moment. Who on earth would put their faith and the fate of their eternal salvation in the hands of such a Roman Pontiff, in the hands of a Church led by him?

But suppose that God does permit such interior wickedness in a Pope. How then does God secure the indefectibility of the Church promised by Christ? God would have to prevent the intention from being fulfilled. But it is more fitting for God to prevent the wicked intention, one contrary to the Faith and contrary to indefectibility, in the first place. And since God is all powerful, that is what God would and does do. As for the charism of never-failing faith, even the intention to corrupt the Faith or lead the Church astray is contrary to that charism. There is no reason to propose that God would protect the Church He loves by half-measures and partial means. In the fullness of God’s mercy, any type of wickedness in a Roman Pontiff which is contrary to a never-failing faith or an indefectible Church is absolutely prevented, even as an intention or unfulfilled plan.

The Worst Pope

There has to be a worst Pope, right? Some Popes are Saints and others are very sinful. I suspect that some of the “bad” Popes, like Benedict IX and Sergius III, were antipopes. But certainly more than a few valid Popes were very sinful. Can we say that Pope Francis is the worst Pope?

The First See is judged by no one. That is Canon Law 1404. It is also an ancient teaching in the Church. No one may lawfully pass judgment upon the Roman Pontiff. That is a dogma of the First Vatican Council [Pastor Aeternus, chapter 3, n. 8]. The Roman Pontiff judges all and is judged by none but God.

Therefore, it is a grave sin to judge that a particular Pope is the worst Pope. How would you know? The Pope is liberal, and you are conservative. Then you judge that he is the worst Pope. What a coincidence. Could it not be the case, instead, that you are biased and he is not so bad? I remember when the world hailed Pope John Paul II as a Saint, while he was still alive. And now website editors and video bloggers are proclaiming him to be an idolater. They state this as if it were a fact, but it is just their opinion. The opinion of creatures.

Pope Alexander VI is on nearly every list of “bad Popes”. But two of his successors said he was one of the best Popes since Saint Peter. No one accuses Alexander of heresy. And he repented with tears and manifest sorrow on his death bed, passing away after receiving the Last Rites. He was accused of many sins, but we really do not know which sins he committed and which were false accusations.

God only knows which Popes were worst and which were best. So maybe if you are feeling judgmental, you could judge your own life and your own sins, and then go to Confession. “Let whoever is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” (Jn 8:7). Otherwise, it is an act of self-exaltation and pride to declare to the whole world, over the internet, that you have judged the Roman Pontiff and found him to be the worst among all the other Roman Pontiffs — which implies you have judged all of them! God teaches us not to judge others, and particularly not to judge the Pope, but you’ve decided to judge all Popes and proclaim which one is worst. Do you have a list of who is second worst and third worst? Will you next be ranking the Patriarchs or the Saints?

Pope Francis might be a Saint. Or he might have hidden sins that none of us know. But it is certainly not our role to judge any Vicar of Christ. Moreover, it is implied by the dogmatic teachings of the Church on the papal charisms that certain types of wickedness are not permitted by God in the Roman Pontiffs — not because the Popes are all Saints, but for the sake of our salvation. So do not judge to be wicked what God has preserved from wickedness for the sake of your eternal salvation.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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6 Responses to Contra Timothy Gordon on the Wickedness of Any Pope

  1. M. Jean-Paul Benoist says:

    Mes chers Amis,

    Soyons donc prudents. Qui peut prétendre posséde tous les éléments?

    Très humblement vôtre,

    Le pauvre pécheur que je sais être.

    Pour vous Ron, je n’oublie pas votre chère Maman!

  2. Sunimal Fernando says:

    Pray and worship to God, Jesus, Holy spirit.
    Then pray to mother Mary.
    Then to saints.

    Don’t worship to popes. Or don’t White wash.
    Don’t hide activities of communist countries.

    Now your site becomes anti Christ.
    Sorry to tell this. Earlier you published mother Mary’s messages 1917,…
    But now your brain changed. Or Satan has taken.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Aren’t you being too harsh on me? I pray the Rosary daily, go to Mass and Confession regularly. I believe and practice what the Church teaches. My site simply supports the Pope.

  3. Sunimal Fernando says:

    Sorry for the inconvenience happened to you. Who I’m I , to judge others? Forgive me.

Comments are closed.