EWTN Catholic Q&A
How to reassure others about the next Pope?
Question from John on 04-02-2005:

Hello,

My mother, possibly like many others, is afraid that the next Pope will be a more "liberal" Pope and allow things such as abortion, same sex marriages, etc. I tried to tell her that the Pope's seat is protected by the Holy Spirit and the Pope can't change Church Dogma but she stills seems unconvinced.

I confess to not having a deep enough understanding of our faith to adeqautely explain how Christ would never allow there to be such a thing as an "evil" Pope. Can you advise me and others in a similar situation how to reassure others about the next Pope?

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 04-14-2005:

If we have faith we will believe the promises of Christ and the teaching of the Church, which tells us that a validly elected Pope cannot formally teach contrary to the Deposit of the Faith. That while he might privately teach error to others, his public Magisterium is protected from teaching error. This doesn't necessarily mean that every public utterance is errorfree. Every public statement is not an act of formal teaching. But could a pope give address after address, homily after homily, encyclical after encyclical, extolling errors such as you mention? No.

I would note that "evil" is a moral category. The papal charism guarantees the faith of the pope, not his holiness. The latter he must acquire just like the rest of us. History shows some popes were not too successful. However, we have had several centuries now of generally devout men in the papal office.

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