Can the Pope Be Impeached?


Bestselling Catholic author Antonio Socci has posted a claim on his blog that Pope Francis is in danger of being “impeached” for preaching heresy. (Vox Cantoris offers a summary in English here.) Is this true? Are some cardinals moving to “impeach” the Pope in the wake of the most recent Scalfari article which claims that the Pope said that there is no hell? While I can’t speak about whether any cardinals are actually attempting such a thing, I can speak about whether or not a pope can be impeached.

It is crystal clear from Canon 1404 that a pope cannot be impeached. The reason is that he is the highest authority in the Church. Furthermore, no part of Canon Law provides any instruction on the removal of a pope against his will.

 Can. 1404 The First See is judged by no one.

Some erroneously say that a pope can be removed from office if he experiences dementia. In a 2013 article, canon lawyer Cathy Caridi, J.C.L. addressed this.

[…][T]here is nobody on earth who has the authority to make an official determination that the Pope is incapacitated and must be removed, or that somebody else should henceforth govern in his place.

So you see, there is really no way to remove a pope from office against his will – not even if he has dementia. There is nothing in Canon Law which provides for it.

Again, Canon Law has the last word…

Can. 1404 The First See is judged by no one.

…and the Bible confirms it for us in Matthew 16:18-19:

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

On earth, no one has authority over the Pope, therefore he cannot be impeached.