Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said that while “some of Pope Francis’ statements are formulated in such a way that they could be reasonably understood as material heresy, independent of their unclear subjective meaning,” that he has not lost his papal office because he has not taught formal heresy.
In a recent opinion piece in First Things, the German cardinal stated that “[t]o teach contrary to the apostolic faith would automatically deprive the Pope of his office.” In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, Müller expounded on the possibility of a pope losing his office if he formally teaches heresy.
The former prefect of the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) explained that there is a crucial distinction between material heresy and formal heresy.
Müller reiterated that a pope who teaches formal heresy could theoretically lose his office, but he added that such a case has not occurred yet in the history of the Church. He referred to the example of Pope Honorius I (625-638), who was retrospectively condemned as a heretic at the Third Council of Constantinople. Müller explained that Honorius had taught “materially false statements” but “not heresy in the strict sense.”
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