Catholic Academics Call for Pope Francis to Resign or Be Removed, Citing ‘Unprecedented Crisis’

By Jules Gomes Published on May 8, 2024

A coalition of Catholic academics and writers is calling on Pope Francis to resign the papacy, accusing him of criminal behavior and heretical teaching. In an 18-page list of charges issued May 2, the signatories are urging cardinals and bishops to depose Pope Francis by declaring that “he has lost the papal office” if he does not resign voluntarily.

Since his election, “the words and actions of Pope Francis have caused an unprecedented crisis in the Catholic Church,” they write.

The academics signing the petition include world-renowned philosopher, classicist and theologian Prof. John Rist, a convert to Catholicism from agnosticism; Hungarian theologian Dr. Dániel Fülep; and Peruvian Thomist philosopher Dr. Cesar Felix Sánchez Martínez.

Fr. Linus Clovis, an expert in canon law; Dr. John R. T. Lamont, Canadian philosopher and theologian; Greek patristic scholar Dr. Anna Silvas, liturgist Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski; and Dr. John Zmirak, senior editor at The Stream, have also signed the petition.

The first section of the charge sheet documents extensively what the petitioners claim are Pope Francis’s crimes violating canon law, natural law, divine law, or the law of temporal states, including the pontiff’s protection and promotion of clerical sex offenders.

“Pope Francis’s promotion of these criminals has been so extensive and over so long a time frame, both before and after his election to the papacy, that it can only be seen as an abiding disposition and an habitual policy,” the document, published on the traditionalist Catholic OnePeterFive website, alleges.

The signatories not only accuse Francis of attempting to rig the next conclave by appointing large numbers of criminals he has protected to the college of cardinals, but also of “repeatedly and brazenly” lying about his actions and slandering victims of these crimes.

Protecting and Promoting Sexual Predators

“Pope Francis had a record of protecting sexual abusers before he became pope, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and president of the Argentine bishops’ conference,” the signatories write, listing the names of 26 top priests, bishops, and cardinals who have been credibly accused of sex abuse or protecting predator priests.

Among the clerical sex abusers is Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, a close friend of Francis, who is accused of sexually, physically, spiritually, and psychologically abusing at least 25 nuns over three decades, some in blasphemous occult rituals.

Other known clerical offenders protected and promoted by Pope Francis include:

  • Julio Grassi, who was convicted and incarcerated for sexually abusing boys at the Happy Children homes for street children in Argentina and was exonerated by then Archbishop Bergoglio.
  • English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who abused a girl between the ages of 13 and 14.
  • Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who refused to investigate complaints made by 48 seminarians about homosexual abuse at the Honduras seminary and was elevated by Francis to his inner circle of nine cardinal consultors.
  • Bishop Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta, who sexually harassed seminarians and was named by Pope Francis as bishop of Oran, Argentina in 2013. Despite receiving photographic evidence of his misconduct, Francis created a post for him as assessor of the Vatican bank. Zanchetta was sentenced to four and a half years in jail in Argentina for sexual assault of seminarians in 2022 but has faced no canonical trial or sanction for these crimes, as per the charge sheet against Francis.
  • Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, who was permitted by Francis to keep his status as a cardinal and cardinal-elector, with no canonical trial or punishment, even after the prelate confessed to molesting a 14-year-old girl.

The Vatican Alliance with Red China

A major concern of the signatories is Pope Francis’s 2018 concordat with atheist China — a deal that was renewed in 2020 and 2022, despite the Chinese Communist Party reneging on the agreement and the worsening state-sponsored persecution of Christians.

“Pope Francis has never mentioned the persecution of Chinese Christians since the conclusion of the agreement,” the document laments, arguing that the bishops appointed because of the pontiff’s concordat will be stooges of the Chinese Communist Party. The document also points to the scandal of a high Vatican official helping to cover up the theft of organs from vivisected prisoners of conscience, then selling those organs on the global black market — as John Zmirak reported here at The Stream. 

The signatories suggest that the pope’s criminal behavior has made him vulnerable to blackmail by rogue states like China, which are forcing him to acquiesce to their demands.

The document further reprimands the pontiff for removing prelates like Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas and Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres, bishop of Arecibo in Puerto Rico, without canonical process or a moral or legal basis.

The statement on Pope Francis also lists the pope’s participation in the idolatrous worship of the pagan goddess Pachamama, his suppression of the Latin Mass, granting permission for adulterers to receive Communion in the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and instituting the blessing of same-sex nuptial ceremonies in the recent papal declaration Fiducia supplicans.

Seven Accusations of Heresy

In a section titled “heresies of Pope Francis,” the document notes that he “has publicly and pertinaciously contradicted a number of central teachings of the Catholic faith,” warning: “Heresy is a serious crime in canon law, and has always been recognized as such.”

The section catalogues seven accusations of heresy, highlighting the pontiff’s reversal of capital punishment in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the encyclical Fratelli tutti, and the recently published papal document Dignitas infinita.

Pope Francis engages in “vulgarity and obscenity in his public utterances, hate-filled denigration of those who oppose him,” and exhibits “a bizarre fondness for Judas Iscariot that he has expressed in sermons and in the act of keeping a picture of Judas in his personal study,” the document adds.

The charge-sheet also blasts the pope for declaring that “God not only permits, but positively wills the pluralism and diversity of religions, both Christian and non-Christian” in his joint statement on Human Fraternity with Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque in 2019.

Depose the Pope!

“Pope Francis is manifestly unfit for the papal office. His fundamental offence against the office is unbelief. Since he no longer accepts the Catholic faith that it is his task as pope to uphold, he has a moral obligation to resign the papacy,” the document warns. “If Pope Francis refuses to resign, the duty of the bishops and cardinals is to proceed to declare that he has lost the papal office for heresy.”

Alternatively, faithful prelates should “state that his tenure of the papal office is in doubt due to his heresy, and admonish the faithful not to believe his statements or obey his orders unless it is clear on independent grounds that these statements and orders should be respected,” the document concludes.

The Stream contacted the Holy See Press Office for comment, but had received no response as of press time.

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A week before the statement was released, Damian Thompson, associate editor of The Spectator, lambasted secular and Catholic journalists for “trying to protect Francis, who faces more serious questions about his personal conduct than any pope in living memory.”

In a column published on the British website Unherd, Thompson noted that Francis has issued more than 60 papal rulings (moto proprio); that is six times more than Pope John Paul II ever did, making “massive changes to liturgy, finance, government and canon law.”

The British commentator sounded a note of hope that the next pope might not be a clone of Francis. Even though he has appointed 75 percent of the future cardinal electors, his habit of going to far-flung non-Western countries to select cardinals means he has not succeeded in creating enough liberal cardinals to accomplish that goal.

“Let’s not neglect the role of social media: while the Praetorian Guard have been busy hiding things, countless websites have been making life difficult for the poisonous old toads who have been trying to fix conclaves for the best part of 2,000 years,” Thompson, a Catholic, concluded.


Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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