Gänswein, Brandmüller & Burke: Please read Canon 17!

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo



February 14, 2019 A. D. — Today Diane Montagna’s article, entitled, “Did Benedict really resign? Gänswein, Burke and Brandmüller weigh in,” was published at Life Site News.

First, let me say a big thank you to Diane Montagna for bringing the controversy to the greater attention of the general public. In this way, all Catholics, who have a right to know of its existence, can at last be informed.

However, I do not praise the article’s author for the article itself, which in all frankness, I must say is full of sophistic arguments:  that is false manners of argumentation, and even false assertions, all marshaled in an attempt to demonstrate that Pope Benedict XVI did validly resign, and that everything His Holiness and his private secretary have said about this, is to be ignored!

I find it shocking that two Cardinals, to defend the validity of the resignation, have resorted to telling the whole world not to pay attention to what the Pope has said about the meaning and effect of his own act!  This is tantamount to rebellion against the papacy, in my mind!

I also wish to contradict the attempt by the article to smear Catholics who hold that the resignation is invalid as persons who are NOT knowledgeable about Church Law, the text of the papal resignation, or who are excessively scandalized by Bergoglio. As I pointed out in my previous article on How Usurpation of the Papacy leads to Excommunication, all those involved in asserting an invalid resignation is valid are risking excommunication for schism and positing acts which only a pope can do.  So they have a lot of reasons to ignore a serious and just consideration of the facts, especially if they just went along to get along.

But enough of preamble. let’s examine the sophisms in Montagna’s Article, in order of their appearance.

  1. Archbishop Gänswein dismisses the argument as making no sense.  So since he confesses not to understand it, there is really nothing proved by quoting him. I will observe that in German, which is the Bishop’s ancestral tongue, there is no equivalent of ministerium, munus and officium except by one word. So its easy for a German thinker to miss the problem of saying ministerium instead of munus. What the Archbishop says previously contradicts what he says now, so he probably was thinking in German then or is now. But surely he can understand the controversy, seeing that I sent him last month, with proof of delivery, a printed copy of my entire Disputed Question on the topic. But then again, maybe he cannot read English?
  2. Later on in the article, after quoting Archbishop Gänswein as saying openly that Benedict did NOT resign the PAPAL OFFICE, Montagna quotes an anonymous theologian as sustaining,

    supporters of this opinion need to show that Pope Benedict understood the munus and the ministerium as referring to two different realities.

    Ugh, what can one respond to such ignorance? Other than that Canon 17 requires that Canon 332 §2 be read in accord with the meaning of canon 145 §1 and canon 41, which reading amply demonstrates that the Supreme Legislator Himself, Pope John Paul II, in promulgating the new Code of Canon Law requires that ministerium and munus be understood as referring to two different things. — Those who are faithful Catholics, therefore, already know they refer to two different things, because the Pope orders us to do so!

  3. Then the same anonymous theologian quotes canon 15 §1 (actually he quotes §2, but I think that is an error), as saying that the resignation must be presumed valid. But that canon says that a law, which expressly invalidates an act, invalidates even if the one positing the act is ignorant of the law. Thus this canon argues against the validity of the resignation, not for it!
  4. Then the same anonymous theologian confuses the annulment process with this controversy, saying that Catholics who think the resignation is or may be invalid, must wait for the judgement of the Church!  Actually, canon 188 says that resignations made in substantial error are invalid by the law itself. That means, they are invalid before any sentence of any court determines the facts: they are null, void and never had any legal effect.
  5. Then, the article quotes Dr. Roberto de Mattei, who cites Canon 124 §2. — As an aside, I would ask that Dr. de Mattei respond to my criticism of his previous error of attempting to raise an opinion of late scholasticism to the level of an interpretative principle of canon law, in contradiction to the obligation of canon 17 — But that canon also contradicts Dr. de Mattei, because it regards only acts which are manifestly conform to the obligations of the law, when in the present controversy one deals with a prima facie non conformity! That is, with the fact that at first glance at the Latin of Non solum propter (Text of apparent resignation) and canon 332 §2, they are not speaking of the same things! For the former renounces the ministerium, but the latter refers to resignations of munus.
  6. Then Dr. de Mattei attempts again to flip a canon. This time its canon 1526 §1, the burden of proof is upon him who asserts.  Seeing that it is the Cardinals and Dr. de Mattei who long ago asserted first of all that the resignation is valid, the burden of proof is rather on them! That is why, the mere fact that the Cardinals and the entire Vatican have never published a canonical affirmation of the validity is a strong argument they have NEVER examined if it was. But in the case of a resignation, a Cardinal Elector is gravely bound to personally verify that the resignation is valid, because otherwise he will participate in an illicit Conclave and elect and Anti-Pope!
  7. Then, Cardinal Brandmuller attempts to flip two sound dicta: de internis non iudicat praetor (a praetor does not judge of things internal) and quod non est in actis, non est in mundo (what is not in the act does not exist in the world). I say this, because he cites these to argue that those who doubt the validity of the resignation are in error. However, since those who doubt the validity, as I do, do not base our arguments on interior intentions, nor on suppositions, but on the text of the act of renunciation itself, we are acting in perfect harmony with those dicta. Nay, rather, its Cardinal Brandmuller and Burke and Gänswein who violate these, because they say the Pope intended to resign the munus, therefore he did resign the munus, and that ministerium means the munus which is not renounced in the text, because the Pope intended to resign the munus, they judge the Pope’s intention not the act itself!
  8. Then, Cardinal Burke is quoted as saying: “I believe it would be difficult to say it’s not valid.” This, I will admit — for those who have not read the Code of Canon Law and studied this question of substantial error on account of not saying munus nor referring to the office — might be difficult to prove, because many are ignorant of the Canon Law and its obligations. But for those who do, or should know it, it is not!  — Just see my disputed question on it. You can find it in Spanish translation here. In that Question, I carefully examine and refute the 19 reasons alleged for the validity and marshal 39 arguments, drawn from Canon Law, Theology, Philosophy, etc. against the validity.
  9. Finally, Cardinal Burke is quoted as saying: “It seems clear to me that Benedict had his full mind and that he intended to resign the Petrine office.” — Having given no argument but his speculation about the intention of what Pope Benedict XVI intended to say, other than to deny what he expressly has said on other occasions, the opinion of this eminent Canonist must be disregarded as any gratuitous unproven declaration which runs counter to the facts is disregarded.

In conclusion, I would ask these three eminent prelates to read Canon 17. Therein, Pope John Paul II obliges all Catholics to understand canon 332 §2 in a specific manner. In that manner, it can be seen that there is no question at all that the renunciation of Benedict is invalid by reason of substantial error (canon 188) in thinking that a renunciation of ministerium effects a renunciation of the papacy.

I believe that the Cardinals in particular, perhaps out of their familiarity with the Annulment process which focuses on the intention as the formal principle of the validity of the bond of Matrimony, are missing the point of the teaching of Pope Boniface VIII (Decree of Boniface VIII (6th vol), 1.1, T.7, Chap. 1: De Renunciatione:) that papal renunciations deal formally with the verbal signification of the act, not on the intention of the one renouncing. Also, they differ significantly in this, that the power to tie the bond of marriage consists in the ones who take marriage vows. But the power to remove the munus of the papacy is held exclusively by Christ the Lord in glory, who has promised Peter to uphold the letter of Canon Law promulgated by his successor, Pope John Paul II, in canon 332 §2, and Who cannot act unless the renunciation expressly conform itself to that canon.


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22 thoughts on “Gänswein, Brandmüller & Burke: Please read Canon 17!”

  1. Thank God the discussion is finally going mainstream. Truth will out. Even people who can’t follow the intricacies of canon law can easily recognize that it is Bergoglio’s damnable heresies that are bringing all this to light.

    You make one naming error in citing Schneider right at the start. Surely you meant Gänswein.

  2. Now would Francis become the valid pope as soon as Benedict dies or must Francis be reelected to become the valid pope after Benedict’s death.

    Also suppose as group of conservative Cardinals should hold a conclave to elect Benedict’s successor after Benedict dies but while Francis is still alive, would this conclave be valid and the successor the true pope with Francis the anti-pope?

  3. Man, the response to Montagna ‘s article here is so good, I had to go and get a beer, then come back and read it fully. I’m amazed at the level of ignorance among prelates these days (I can’t blame the laity) but if someone’s gonna write about something, they better have their ducks in a row!

  4. A valid resignation means Joseph Ratzinger has no more rights to appear as Pope than me.

    This is insane. If he is not Pope, then what’s with the masquerade?

    No one has ever explained that to me. They just assume “Emeritus” is now a “thing”; and they also assume I should accept it. Show me in Scripture or Tradition – then I will. If you can’t …. Pope Benedict XVI *still reigning*. Burden’s on them. Why is he still hanging about, eh?

    1. If one mistakenly thinks he has resigned, or thinks he can resign in part, then he is in substantial error about the nature of the papacy and his own capacity to change things in resigning. That substantial error is a form of invinceable ignorance which causes after the fact strange behaviors, in the case of thinking one can resign partially. If Benedict wanted to be Pope Emeritus he should have sought counsel and canonists would have told him first to establish in law such a status, and then renounce the whole papacy while assuming the status of emeritus. Not having done that, he occupies a dignity which does not exist in law (pope emeritus) which retains the honor and dignity of the office, a thing which Pope Boniface VIII said invalidates a papal resignation, if I understand him correctly from the very terse citations made to him.

  5. Thank you again, Brother Bugnolo, for clearing a way through the debris of hubris and the swirling tornado of ambiguity. I support you with my prayers.

    1. No, in regard to the resignation, its canon 188, which reads in English translation from the Vatican website:

      Can. 188 A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.

      However, as regards any juridical or administrative act its Canon 126, which reads likewise:

      Can. 126 An act placed out of ignorance or out of error concerning something which constitutes its substance or which amounts to a condition sine qua non is invalid. Otherwise it is valid unless the law makes other provision. An act entered into out of ignorance or error, however, can give rise to a rescissory action according to the norm of law.

  6. A brilliant canonist deals hard with two cardinals and one archbishop who have forgotten that they are shepherds and must defend a herd against wolves – so someone could summarize your article, br. Bugnolo.
    However, the fall of the papacy in Rome is not the result of violation of canon law, but results from the rejection by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Jesus Christ as King! This process lasted from the death of Pius XII and in external signs manifested itself in the resignation of the tiara by Paul VI (Nov. 13, 1964) and the removal of the tiara from the papal coat of arms by Benedict XVI.
    The Roman Pontiff must represent the whole Jesus Christ, and therefore also His royal dignity.
    The Lord Jesus obeys His own priests: they do not want Him as the Almighty King, so they will not have Him at all.

    1. I agree, but as for the second half of your comment, I have snipped it off, because I will not allow my Blog to be a platform to preach despair. The problem of the invalid resignation can be resolved. We need just to have the integrity to admit it and urge the Sacred Hierarchy to shape up….I personally believe if they fail to, the great tragedy foretold by Our Lady at Fatima will fall upon them.

  7. Perhaps the resignation of Benedict XVI is invalid. If, however, we would assume that he is still the pope, then how can he accept Jorge Bergoglio as the pope. How can he stay with him in friendly relations and live in the neighborhood on Vatican hill? …

    1. Because the substantial error in thinking a resignation of ministry causes one to no longer be the Pope causes him to think that he is not the pope. As for the rest of your observations, they are not germane to the present discussion.

  8. Dear brother Bugnolo, thank you for the work that you do, which is invaluable in these times of diabolical confusion

    I have a question. It derives from the misguided argument that if the Church says Bergoglio is the pope, to deny this nomination is thus to deny the Church, because it is saying She has erred.

    Obviously, one could reply, whom did the Church propose as the pope during the Great Western Schism? And if the Church didn’t know then, why would not knowing now put one outside the Church? In fact, St. Vincent Ferrer was backing an antipope during the Great western schism, yet nobody would call him a schismatic!

    Which leads to my question. Let’s say a pope is validly elected, call him Benedict. Benedict reigns a few years, then gets kidnapped by Islamic militants, say. The Church hears nothing for one year, two, presumes Benedict is dead, then calls a conclave, and chooses a new pope (so they think), call him Francis.

    Some months later Benedict is released and returns alive to Rome. In this case the entire college of Cardinals has made the error of thinking the See was vacant during Benedict’s disappearance, but it was not.

    Who is the pope?

    1. The Church has no authority to make a valid resignation invalid or an invalid resignation valid. Just read Canon 332 §2, please. So to say The Church says blah blah blah in this case, therefore you must accept blah blah blah in this case, is really a subterfuge to say: Since all those who do not want to accept Canon 332 §2 say the resignation is valid, then you must reject Canon 332 §2 also and say its valid. That is an argument straight out of Hell, posing as an Angel of light. The Lavender Mafia is good at that.

  9. Oh I quite agree with you Brother. My question was really an argument to use against the Bergoglians, specifically, their claim that if the whole Church accepts an individual as “pope”, then one is in schism if one doesn’t follow suit. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something.

    The Bergoglian position against Canon 332 §2 is indeed as you say, an argument from hell. And it is becoming more and more prevalent as they are getting desperate to defend their untenable position.

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