Learned canonists will be disputing the matter for some time; but the question will remain.
Can the Pope be admonished?
The primary question resolves itself into two subsidiaries.
- Do mechanisms exist for holding the Pope to account if his deliberate and considered teaching contradicts perennial Christian doctrine?
- And is it likely that the present Pope would pay such an admonition any heed or attention?
The answer to both questions seems to be: No.
There is much learned talk about the condemnation of Honorius. But no-one can surely suppose that the peculiar circumstances of that case will be repeated. It is no precedent for anything.
The Pope is the fount of order and of law. As such he is Louis XIV in a mitre. (“L’eglise, c’est moi.“) He hires and fires with impunity. Moreover, Pope Francis is almost impossible to pin down. His own statements are ambiguously gnomic. He leaves it to his supporters and cronies to be specific. And when he strays dangerously close to clarity there are others who are ready to provide him with an escape route. Consider the recent claim that “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings”. The explanation of that claim, which Francis subsequently used to Bishop Schneider, was not his own. It was suggested by well-wishers, who were trying – against the odds – to think the best of him.
Francis’s principal weapon of self-defence is silence. His belligerent refusal to acknowledge challenges and accusations dares others even to mention them. And he relies, self-confidently, on his popularity with the secular media. The stir which the publication of the dubia initially caused is long passed. By simply ignoring them, Bergoglio has gelded both Burke and Vigano.
He is effectively unassailable.