In this article Cardinal Raymond Burke has now indicated the cardinals are contemplating a “formal correction” should the pope fail to address their concerns.

Also, he states:

Historically, in the rare cases where popes have taught heresy, Burke explains, “It is the duty…, and historically it has happened...

I did some research but couldn't find any sources that investigate this issue. My question is when and who did it happen that the bishops had to carry out the "formal correction" in the history of the church?

  • 1
    I'm not sure about "formal correction" of a living pope, but Honorius I was anathematised forty years after his death. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 14:21
  • 3
    I am not sure if Cardinal Burke is really talking about a formal correction or a formal clarification? The two are different and until the statement is official one can not say!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 14:28
  • I doubt such thing ever happened. Only Popes themselves have condemned many previous popes.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 15:42
  • @Michael16, what about Galatians 2:11?
    – Grasper
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 15:52
  • 2
    @Michael16 Ah I see. Of course, “infallibility” doesn't mean that every word that comes out of the Pope’s mouth is infallible: only when he intends to define something infallibly for the whole Church. Peter was already capable of that at Pentecost; it came with being the head of the Apostles. However, the incident mentioned in Galatians does not touch infallibility: Peter didn't teach anything erroneous there; he simply behaved inappropriately (by refusing to eat with Gentiles). Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


The Doctor of the Church St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) collected 40 cases—from Pope St. Peter to Pope Innocent VIII (reigned 1484-1492)—of where a pope or anti-pope was said to have erred in faith (i.e., proclaimed heresy) in the work

  • De Controversiis Fidei Christianæ (Ingolstadt, 1588),

which has been recently translated as:

The 36th case of Pope John XXII (reigned 1316-1334) is probably the most famous recent one. Ockham (et al.) accused Pope John XXII of heresy for denying a dogma that had not yet been infallibly defined.

Basically, Ockham et al. thought that Pope John XXII denied the then-material (i.e., not-yet-infallibly-defined) dogma that the souls of the deceased destined to heaven behold the Beatific Vision immediately after death—a dogma which Pope John XXII's successor, Pope Benedict XII (reigned 1334-1342), infallibly defined in Benedictus Deus (1336). (cf. this and the references therein)

St. Robert, although defending Pope John XXII as a valid pope, writes that even cardinals (the vast majority of them!) opposed the opinion of Pope John XXII:

The Third lie is that no Cardinal opposed the teaching of John. This is clearly false, because neither Gerson, nor any other says this, and because many thought the contrary, as was clear from the definition which was made by Pope Benedict XII after the death of John from the consensus of all Cardinals which is clear in the epistle of Benedict; nor was there a reason why these, who thought the contrary, should fear to oppose John while he was living. Benedict XII, in his Extravagantes, asserts that Pope John severely commanded the Cardinals and others, all teachers, that they should sincerely give their opinion, that the truth could be discovered. Next, John Villanus, who did live at that time, writes the greater part of the Cardinals opposed the opinion of Pope John while he lived. [Histoiria, lib. 10, cap. ult.]

  • 2
    There's a fuller description of how John XXII was corrected in a post on the Irish CatholicVoice site. Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 10:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .