For some reason, a certain provision of Gratian’s Decretals, an early collection of canon law, has been the subject of renewed interest in recent times. The relevant text runs: “No mortal shall presume to rebuke [the pope’s] faults, for he who is to judge all is to be judged by no one, unless he is found straying from the faith” (Dist. 40 c.6). The last condition “unless he is found straying from the faith” has sometimes been interpreted to mean that a pope who strayed into heresy could be deposed. At the end of March a scholarly conference on the canonical and theological problem of the deposition of heretical popes is to be held at the Center for Law and Religious Societies of the Legal Faculty Jean-Monnet of the University Paris-Sud, in the Parisian suburb of Sceaux. The conference will be considering a recently published book on the subject by legal scholar Laurent Fonbaustier: La déposition du pape hérétique : Une origine du constitutionnalisme ? [The Deposition of an Heretical Pope: An Origin of Constitutionalism?]. Fonbaustier traces the influence of Gratian’s decretal on political theories of limited government.
Among the presenters at the conference are Prof. Nicolas Warembourg and Prof. Cyrille Dounot, both signatories of a theological critique of Amoris Laetitia.
The Program of the conference can be found here.