Is the idea that a Pope may be anti-Christ, the same as basically saying the chair of St. Peter is vacant?

Chair of St. Peter refers to an actual chair, but also the spiritual leadership. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI described the chair as "a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity." -source-

A vacant chair is referred to sedevacantism.

Anti-Christ is defined as one who opposes Christ and substitutes itself.

  • There's a huge difference between saying that Bergogliio is an obstinate heretic and therefore lacks papal authority (sedevacantism) and saying that he's the antichrist. There are millions of heretics, but there will be just one antichrist (in the sense the term is used in the Bible). Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


No. If the anti-Christ were to become pope, all that would mean is that the anti-Christ is the pope.

There have been numerous valid, bad popes throughout history. There were popes in the middle ages who were siring children out of wedlock and giving nepotically handing out high positions of authority in the Church. There have been popes who taught heresy, albeit unofficially, as they are unable to teach heresy officially due to the power of the Holy Spirit.

If a valid pope is on the chair of Peter in Rome, he can be the worst sinner in history or the holiest saint. Either way, the chair isn't vacant. A bad bishop is still a bishop. A bad pope is still a pope.

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    Affirming that an ordained minister (deacon, presbyter or bishop) can, through personal corruption, lose his status as an ordained minister (which would have to take place for the See of Saint Peter to become vacant) would be the heresy of Donatism.
    – Wtrmute
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 19:29
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    @Wtrmute An ordained minister remains ordained and able to validly (though perhaps not licitly) administer sacraments, despite personal corruption, but he can lose any authority he had, for example as pastor of a parish or ordinary of a diocese. Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 1:24
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    @AndreasBlass Yes, but only if he is divested of this authority by either his Ordinary (in the case of a Parish Priest) or of Rome (in the case of a Bishop). They cannot latae sententiae lose an office, only ferendae sententiae. So the See cannot be vacant unless someone — typically the (Holy Roman/Byzantine) Emperor and then only at the point of a sword — causes the holder of the See of Peter to abdicate his throne.
    – Wtrmute
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 1:36
  • So, a pope may be bad and still be valid, does this mean a pope could be anti-christ yet still be pope? Where's the line of "badness", if any?
    – SLM
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 15:54
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    @SLM the only hard and fast line is that a Pope who attempts to teach falsehood as ordinary and universal magisterium would cease at that moment to be Pope. The hypothetical antichrist-pope can teach falsehood in homilies, public speeches, etc, all he likes. As long as he does not attempt to make belief in that falsehood formally binding on the faithful, he remains Pope. onepeterfive.com/…
    – jaredad7
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 16:02

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