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  • David Martin | The Daily Knight

Pope Francis: Apostates, Blasphemers, Persecutors, are Part of the Communion of Saints

David Martin | The Daily Knight

During his Wednesday Audience of February 2, 2022, Pope Francis seemingly professed heresy when he said that those who separate themselves from God through apostasy, heresy, hatred, or blasphemy are part of the Communion of Saints and are saved.

"Let’s think about those who have denied the faith, who are apostates, who are the persecutors of the Church, who have denied their baptism: Are these also at home [saved]? Yes, these too. The blasphemers, all of them. We are brothers. This is the Communion of Saints."

An apostate is one who has separated himself from the Church through his rejection of the Faith so how is it that he is now part of the Communion of Saints? To say that unrepentant apostates and heretics are part of the Community of Saints is to say that they are in Heaven. It suggests there is no eternal punishment in hell, which coincides with his claim that "no one can be condemned forever." (AL 297)

Francis’ statement blatantly contravenes the Church’s teaching that heretics, blasphemers, and those who rebel the Faith are excluded from the Communion of Saints. Pope Pius XII's dogmatic encyclical "Mystici Corporis" defined clearly who is and who isn't included in Christ's Mystical Body:

"Only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the True Faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body [by sin], or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.”

This echoes what the Church has always taught, namely, that one must be baptized and must profess the Catholic Faith to be part of Christ's Mystical Body. Heretics, apostates, blasphemers, and persecutors are barred from the Community of Saints because God does not accept them as they are. Man must always change to please God, without which he cannot be saved.

Sin Separates From God

Francis spoke of our ecclesial bond as “an existential bond,” saying that “nothing…can break this bond.” This is false. Sin separates one from God if it is serious. When St. Paul says that nothing or no one “shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39), he simply means that no person or externals can separate us from God if we are resolved to love him, but if we through our free will offend God (we sin), or worse yet, we blaspheme him or publicly resist his words as heretics we separate ourselves from God and cannot be saved unless we return to him through confession.

Francis’ statement has all the marks of formal heresy, which incurs ipso facto excommunication. St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, teaches:

"Now when [the Pope] is explicitly a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church must either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See." — St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy

St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, likewise teaches:

"A pope who is a manifest heretic by that fact ceases to be pope and head, just as he by that fact ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; wherefore he can be judged and punished by the Church.” — St. Robert Bellarmine, On the Roman Pontiff

Cardinal Raymond Burke made it clear in an interview with Catholic World Report (CWR) in December 2016 that if a pope were to “formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope.”

Burke was reiterating Church teaching, as expressed by famed canonist Franz Wernz in his Ius Canonicum: “In sum, it needs to be said clearly that a [publicly] heretical Roman Pontiff loses his power upon the very fact.”

What are we to make then of Francis who has professed error numerous times since his elevation to the Papacy in 2013? For instance, on February 4, 2019, he signed a joint statement with the head of Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque, which states that "diversity of religions" is "willed by God." This contravenes the Church’s dogma that:

There is one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins

— Unam Sanctam, Papal Bull of Boniface VIII

Suffice it to say, Francis’ heterodox teaching does not square with that of the saints and doctors of the Church. No pope of Church history has taught that ‘all baptized persons are automatically included as living members of the Church regardless of their sins.’

St. Robert Bellermine said that a manifest heretic can “be judged and punished by the Church,” so what are the bishops waiting for? A committee of bishops should convene to verify if in fact Pope Francis has professed formal heresy so that they can proceed accordingly.

For their edification let them keep in mind the 1 prophecy of St. Francis of Assisi concerning a latter-day “pope” who would wreak destruction throughout the Church.

"At the time of this tribulation, a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavor to draw many into error.... Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true pastor, but a destroyer."


1. Taken from Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, R. Washbourne Publishing House, 1882, pp. 248-250, with imprimatur by His Excellency William Bernard, Bishop of Birmingham. The source of this prophecy is the Opuscola or Writings of St. Francis (1623) by Fr. Luke Wadding, recognized as history’s foremost scholar and historian on St. Francis of Assisi.



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