by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
The knives are all out at Rome for Pope Benedict XVI.
And some of them reach far across the Atlantic.
The so-called trad movement, which loved Benedict XVI for giving them the Latin Mass, but promptly forgot Benedict in the Canon of the Latin Mass at the end of February 2013, because they could not read Latin well enough to understand what he did on February 11, 2013, has in more recent years beaten the drums for Pope Benedict XVI’s execution by guillotine.
That is, they are counting the days to his death.
They think that his disappearance will prove their cause, by some sort of twisted logic. They have become some of the most ardent zealots of the Bergoglio is certainly the pope clan.
The latest of these is a piece of bluster and puff from Dr. Roberto De Mattei here at Rome. I know that I should not give it the time of space, after his journal, the Corrispondenza Romana published a most shameful attack on Don Minutella last month, but as a devoted son of Our Lady Hammer of Heretics, I take delight in smashing errors and sophistic argumentation.
Dr. De Mattei’s essay was republished in English by Rorate Caeli, which often reprints in English articles which it considers important for distribution to Traditionalists, even if New Catholic, its founder, was a protestant political activist for a socialist in Canada and launched Rorate Caeli to forge a narrative among traditionalists for who knows what end.
Dr. De Mattei’s essay, in English, is entitled, The Unknowns at the End of a Pontificate.
I would characterize the article as poorly written, and from the pen of a man who is clearly troubled. His underhanded attack via Corrispondenza Romana on the character of Don Minutella sparked a fiery response by the Sicilian priest, who then went on the war path with the arms of truth, speaking in recent weeks repeatedly and at great length about the evidence and laws regarding a papal renunciation and how and why Pope Benedict XVI is still the pope. I am honored to have been interviewed for more than 2 hours by Don Minutella in this campaign. Our challenge to the intellectuals of Italy, in Italian, has evoked no direct rebuttal on the merits — because that is a field of battle upon which they know they cannot win. But there have been indirect responses.
I covered the more public ones in my article of this morning, here.
Now, De Mattei’s deserve a response. His key argument, after pretending that the terms by which the Renunciation was never valid arose after the Renunciation, not in it, is this:
Furthermore, if Pope Benedict is the legitimate Pope, what would happen if from one day to the next he should die, or instead, before he died, Pope Francis should pass away? Given the fact that many current cardinals were created by Pope Francis and none of the cardinal electors consider him an Anti-Pope, the apostolic succession would be interrupted, jeopardizing the visibility of the Church. The paradox is that to prove the invalidity of Benedict’s renunciation juridical sophisms are employed, but then to resolve the problem of Benedict’s or Francis’s succession, extra-canonical solutions ought to be used.
I would say the battle is nearly won, when De Mattei dares to write in public, if Pope Benedict is the legitimate Pope, what would happen…. because such a manner of argumentation presupposes a deep sense of desperation on the part of the one who employs it, even if it errs in casting the case in the terms of legitimacy, not canonicity or legality, or lawfulness.
His argument is a non-sequitur. Because regardless of who dies before whom, that fact alone does not cause the interruption of the Apostolic Succession. There have been dozens of antipopes in the past, and their death before or after the true Pope has never caused the true Pope to be without canonical or legal successors.
And here is a point that needs to be reviewed, though a historical of the caliber of De Mattei has no excuse in ignoring it: namely, that in times past the Apostolic Succession was at times conducted by Apostolic Right, by sacred canons, and by Papal laws. But Dr. Mattei I think is reluctant to open up this discussion, because in such a case it becomes difficult to sustain, as his faction does, why they think that the Apostolic Succession can happen through the collective consensus of the Cardinals against the norms of both canon law and Papal Law and Apostolic Right.
In ancient times, before there were any sacred canons or papal laws, the Church of Rome elected Her own Bishop by common consensus. All the Faithful of the Church who wanted to participate could participate. The election being the right of both laity and clergy and religious. The only criteria were that the elector be a Catholic in good standing, in communion with the previous pope and a resident of the Diocese of Rome — which, however, it must be admitted, had different sizes throughout the history of its existence, even though it was roughly approximate to be that of the Metropolitan area of the Eternal City. And since these criteria of communion, orthodoxy and residency are objective and verifiable criteria, in all ages, the Apostle Peter did well to leave the succession in the Petrine Munus under such a regime.
But in subsequent centuries, after the occasions of numerous civil strives between powerful families at Rome, Pope Nicholas II, on April 13, 1059, with the bull, In Nomine Domini, promulgated a papal law for the election of the Roman Pontiff, the substance of which was recapitulated in every subsequent papal law. I published the Latin text with an English translation on January 18th of this year.
Hence forth, the election of the Roman Pontiff is governed under a species of Apostolic Right, which now is manifested in a process which is not governed by the laws of tradition and universal suffrage, but of an election by Bishops chosen by the Popes with the consent of the better part of the clergy. But even under this Papal Law it was never had that these Bishops or clergy could be those who adhered to an antipope.
So while this legal tradition grew and is now enshrined in the Papal Law of Pope John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, this law regards only the election of a true pope by Cardinals appointed by true popes, who are in communion with the previous occupant of the Holy See. Thus, those like De Mattei who attempt to convince that the party of Pope Benedict are pharisaically scrupulous on Canon Law in the Renunciation, but will be required to dump Canon Law all together in the election of his successor — if it should happen to be that the Cardinals do not return to him before or after his death — is simply proposing a preposterous straw man, unworthy of his own intellectual abilities and duty, as a Catholic, to uphold and seek the truth.
Thus, if the Holy Father should die before Cardinals are reconciled to him, or if 20 days should pass after his death without any Cardinal Electors declaring he was the true pope unto the very day of his death, then the Papal Law on Conclaves no longer remains in force, because it regards the circumstances of a papal election when there are Cardinal Electors. In such a case, the Apostolic Right of the Roman Church returns, and the principal of universal suffrage revives. This is not only the only sane response to the objection, it is the canonical, legal, legitimate and lawful course of action.
And those who say otherwise are anomians, that is, they respect no law. Neither that which regards when and how to discern that a Pope has validly resigned, nor those which regard when and how to discern that a Pope has been validly elected.
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