If A Pope Becomes A Heretic Does He Automatically Fall From Office?

“Should the Pope as a private person fall into heresy, publicly and notoriously, he would place himself outside of the Church and ipso facto lose his office.”  (Wernz. II, n. 614.)  Constitution of the Church by Ayrinhac (1925).

 

 

S. B. Smith in his Elements of Ecclesiastical Law, written prior to the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law states: Q. Is a Pope who falls into heresy deprived, ipso jure, of the Pontificate?  A. There are two opinions: one holds that he is by virtue of divine appointment, divested ipso facto, of the Pontificate; the other, that he is, jure divino, only removable.  Both opinions agree that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the church-i.e., by an ecumenical council or the College of Cardinals.  The question is hypothetical rather than practical.  For although, according to the more probable opinion, the Pope may fall into heresy and err in matters of faith, as a private person, yet it is also universally admitted that no Pope ever did fall into heresy, even as a private doctor.