Resolved: the Pope is not a Heretic

Resolved: the Pope is not a Heretic September 24, 2017

Resolved:  Pope Francis is not a heretic, and is not spreading or promulgating heretical ideas.

For two years a debate has been raging about Amoris Laetitia, or more precisely, the correct interpretation of one or more footnotes–e.g. footnote 351:

351 In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039).

Based on repeated comments from the Pope and from people close to him, it seems that the Pope wants to open the door (ever so slightly) to admitting some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion.  It is not a blanket free pass, and it left to the discernment of pastors.

This has not been well received, as I am sure most of our readers are aware.  However, things got pushed up a notch.  The charge of heresy has been rattling around in the background, but it has now been made explicitly, as  a group of 62 priests, theologians and academics have published a fraternal correction of Pope Francis, explicitly accusing him of “the propagation of heresies.”

So the question becomes:  is the Pope a heretic, or at least teaching heresy?  I do not think so.  I am not a papal maximalist (who, at least in stereotype) who would argue that the Pope cannot teach heresy.   But in this particular case, I think his opponents are badly over-reacting.

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