Catholic doctrine says that Jesus protects the Church from error in faith in morals when it speaks in his name to declare what belongs to Jesus' doctrine.  This involves papal infallibility and the infallibility of Church councils such as Trent.

Yet there are popes who have tried to bind the Church to unCatholic doctrine.

Pope Vigilius officially taught and supported heresy against the orthodox doctrine that Jesus is fully God and fully man in one person (page 149, Pope Fiction). He is said to have been a fake pope at that time for he deposed a pope and took his place (page 124, Reasons for Hope). The real pope excommunicated Vigilius we are told.

We read in Reasons for Hope page 124 that this pope, Silverus, was the only member of the Catholic Church for all the rest had apostatised to Vigilius! Jesus founded an astounding religion if it gets into messes like this! Later, Vigilius was validly elected pope two years following the appalling death of Silverus who was later proclaimed a saint. The election was bizarre. Reasons for Hope says that the electors couldn’t choose another pope because he would go the same way as Silverus so they were forced to elect Vigilius (page 125). What is obvious from this is that they held the election not out of a desire to pick a successor for Silverus but to get rid of the appalling Vigilius but they found it wasn’t possible because of political blackmail so they were forced to elect Vigilius. Another thing that is obvious is that the election contradicts the Catholic doctrine that if force happens the election is invalid but still they consider Vigilius a true pope probably because the Church accepted him at the time.
The Catholic reasoning is that when Vigilius sealed the heresy with his approval he was a false pope because no power on earth can depose a true pope so Silverus was the true pope. This would mean that Vigilius teaching such heresy officially and approving of it for the whole Church would not affect papal infallibility. Silverus had no supporters at all when he was deposed (page 124, Reasons for Hope). Silverus was kidnapped and taken away on a ship when Vigilius deposed him and never seen again. But how could you believe in papal infallibility when a man considered by the entire Church to be a real pope leads the Church astray? Isn’t that the gates of hell winning over the Church despite the Catholic interpretation of Jesus’ words to Peter that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it? If the gates can do that then why be confident that the pope cannot lead the Church into false doctrine?
A Catholic would think Silverus resigned when the whole Church left him. Would the Holy Spirit let people leave a true pope? The pope is a mark that shows where the true Catholic Church is to be found. Catholics say today that the idea of the visibility of the Church is so important that even if a papal election was fiddled and invalid the acceptance by the Church of the man presented as the true pope would validate him as the real pope. Otherwise you would have the case of the true Church not having the mark of the true Church the pope. We have no evidence that Silverus did or didn’t resign. If he had resigned Vigilius didn’t need to tell anybody for he had all the support he wanted. That Silverus didn’t resign rather than be forced out of the papacy in such an undignified way is just something the Church assumes because if he did resign then Vigilius was never an antipope and the Church doesn’t want to admit that. As for deposing, the Church at the time accepted it as valid when the pope was thought to depose himself if he fell into heresy. That is obvious from the eager acceptance Vigilius got from the whole Church. Strictly speaking Vigilius could never say he deposed the pope but that the pope deposed himself by heresy. He had to say something to justify getting rid of Silverus and taking his place as pope the next day. Vigilius was probably a real pope from the start.
It is argued that Vigilius knew too little about theology to manage to make an infallible dogma out of his heresy. So, if he tried to be infallible he was not. But this is just pure Catholic craftiness for he did not need to be an expert in theology to be able to back up the heresy. All he needed to know was that Jesus was fully God and was also fully man which is a mystery so there is nothing to be learned about it anyway. Also the Church has no rules or guidelines about how much research a pope needs to do or how much information he needs to be able to exercise infallibility.
Vigilius issued a Constitutum which was addressed to the whole Church and to all the bishops that if anybody contradicted the Three Chapters they were refuted by the authority of the apostolic see which was given by the grace of God (page 187, A Handbook on the Papacy). The Three Chapters taught heresy. This statement was addressed to the whole Church and it says that its being made is sufficient refutation of attacks on the Three Chapters because it is made with full authority given from God. If that is not an infallible statement then what is? It is certain that when he condemned as true pope, in a decree called the Judicatum, the orthodoxy of the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon that he intended to use his full authority which would include infallibility if he had it (page 56, Reason and Belief). He also defied the Council of Constantinople which took place later. If you use the popes alleged lack of research or bad reasoning as an excuse for rejecting doctrines he proclaims infallible then what good is infallibility?

And how could a person who had separated himself from the Church by heresy and by harming a pope and becoming an antipope that led the whole Church into schism against the true pope become a true pope later? This question doesn’t seem to perturb Catholics who believe that Vigilius was guilty of these sins. It was believed up until the time of Pius XII that a heretic couldn’t become pope except in outward appearances. That was the law until the pope changed it.
Vigilius when he was considered a valid pope after the death of Silverus kept changing his mind about the heretics he condemned. He flipped flopped with official condemnations. The Church assumes without documentation from anyone involved at first hand or anybody that he was pressured into harming Church teaching this way (Pope Fiction page 150). If he was really infallible the Lord God would make sure this could be clarified and not only clarified but proven but when it wasn’t we can be sure that Viligius could have misled the Church with his condemnations. It’s evidence not guesses we need.

This is a case where the Church has to read into the situation the possibility that he did not violate the regulations and requirements of papal infallibility.  But this is not evidence.  It is spin.  It is explaining away.  We need evidence.  Its loss shows that God was not looking after the Church well. 

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