But isn’t it true that a pope who becomes a heretic loses the pontificate?
St. Robert Bellarmine says that a pope who would formally and manifestly become a heretic would lose the pontificate. For that to apply to John Paul II, he would have to be a formal heretic, deliberately refusing the Church’s magisterium; and this formal heresy would have to be open and manifest. But if John Paul II often enough makes heretical affirmations or statements that lead to heresy, it cannot easily be shown that he is aware of rejecting any dogma of the Church. And as long as there is no sure proof, then it is more prudent to refrain from judging. This was Archbishop Lefebvre’s line of conduct.