A concise and simple summary so anyone can understand the case
by Andrea Cionci
2 August 2021
Authorized English Translation
Canon law frightens everyone, but stay calm: apart from a few passages that are a little more “technical,” we have organized some very simple summaries and syntheses that can be easily understood by anyone.
It is worth reading carefully: the question concerns over 1.2 billion Catholics and is of immeasurable gravity, because if Pope Benedict did not validly abdicate, Francis is an anti-pope: if the Magna Quaestio of the resignation is not resolved, then those who succeed Francis will all be anti-popes and the Catholic Church will no longer be the visible canonical Church that we know. After investigating the various aspects of the affair, we were constrained by logic, by way of excluding what was impossible, to arrive at the thesis of the so-called “Plan B” – which says that Pope Benedict never abdicated, having organized an intentionally invalid resignation in order to be able to annul a “false church” of Modernism, giving it a way to reveal itself over the course of time. You will find everything here, here, and here. Since the hypothesis is extremely plausible at a circumstantial level, it appears that the ultimate confrontation, the “final battle,” is taking place over canon law.
In this article, Professor Antonio Sànchez Sàez, ordinary professor of Law at the University of Seville here and the Colombian lawyer Estefania Acosta, the author of the book “Benedict XVI: Pope emeritus?,” convincingly take down the last defenses of two famous canonists who argue in favor of Bergoglio’s legitimacy. We are speaking of Msgr. Giuseppe Sciacca (Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura and the Revisor General of the Apostolic Camera) and Prof. Geraldina Boni of the University of Bologna, two “big names” who are invoked by everyone who supports the legitimacy of Francis as the Pontiff.
As you all know well, the crux of the dispute derives from the fact that in 1983, under Papa Wojtyla (with Card. Ratzinger already working as his “right hand man”), the papal office was divided into two entities: the munus, the divine title of pope, and the ministerium, the practical exercise of power. We have already made a hypothesis about this provision: a “false target” prepared well in advance against a foreseeable internal attack on the papacy here. In fact, according to canon law (Can. 332 § 2) the pope must renounce the munus in order for his abdication to be valid, but instead Benedict XVI renounced the ministerium here. But let’s proceed in order.
1) THE “POPE EMERITUS” DOES NOT EXIST
“I have read,” Professor Sànchez explains, “an interview given to Andrea Tornielli by Msgr. Giuseppe Sciacca HERE . Above all, Monsignor Sciacca himself admits that the institute of “Pope Emeritus” does not exist: “It is an exercise that has never been identified or defined in any doctrinal document,” and again: “[The title of emeritus] cannot be applied to the office of the Pontiff.” On this point everyone is in agreement, even the canonists Boni, Fantappié, Margiotta-Broglio, the historian [Roberto] de Mattei and others.”
2) THE “ENLARGED PAPACY” DOES NOT EXIST AND THE POPE CAN BE ONLY ONE
“Msgr. Sciacca then admits,” Sànchez continues, “that there is also not an ‘enlarged papacy’ where Benedict XVI could maintain the munus while Francis possesses the ministerium. Only ONE person can be Pope, never two at the same time: this is true and is in conformity with canon law and tradition. There are not, therefore, two popes – one active and the other passive – there is not an ‘enlarged papacy’ with two heads.” We also add that Pope Benedict XVI has also actually repeated for eight years that THERE IS ONLY ONE POPE (without however explaining which one of the two it is), as his secretary Msgr. Ganswein admits HERE .
3) THE POPE CANNOT SEPARATE MUNUS AND MINISTERIUM
“And yet,” Sànchez comments, “the conclusion drawn by Bishop Sciacca is that the pope is therefore only Jorge Mario Bergoglio, elected pope in the conclave of 13 March 2013. This is a dramatic error: for a pontiff to be validly elected, the preceding pope must be dead or have validly abdicated. And Benedict did not abdicate, exactly as declared by Msgr. Sciacca to Tornielli, since (for the Pope) the munus and ministerium are inseparable: “The fact that the Code of Canon Law in canon 332 speaks of the munus petrinum,” Msgr. Sciacca writes, “cannot in any way be interpreted as an intention of the legislator to introduce, in a matter of divine law, a distinction between the Petrine munus and ministerium. A distinction which, moreover, is impossible.”
4) BENEDICT HAS INSTEAD SEPARATED AND DISTINGUISHED MUNUS AND MINISTERIUM
“Monsignor Sciacca is right,” Sànchez continues, “when he says that the papacy cannot be divided into munus and ministerium. One person alone can hold both at the same time: the pope.” And so how is it possible that Ratzinger has distinguished and separated them, renouncing the ministerium and not the munus? Therefore, the resignation of Benedict XVI of an alleged part of the papacy (the ministerium) and not of the entire papal office (the munus) is not valid because the “Declaratio” of the resignation commits a substantial error, as regards the condition “sine qua non” prior to a papal election: the establishment of a vacant see. So says canon 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.”
IN SYNTHESIS: The resignation was invalid because of a substantial error (a separation of the munus/ministerium) which could not produce a vacant see, and thus the conclave of 2013 could not have taken place, and thus the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is invalid.
5) ARE MUNUS AND MINISTERIUM THUS SYNONYMOUS?
The only “loophole” that remains is that this casual use of munus and ministerium by Benedict corresponds to a purely linguistic concern. That is, Ratzinger would have used these two terms “in order to not repeat the same word” for the sake of literary charm, despite the juridical catastrophe that it would entail. We recall that he himself explains in the book-interview “Ein Leben” (2020) that his text was written in two weeks and passed the scrutiny of the Secretary of State so that legal and formal errors were corrected, but UNDER THE SEAL OF THE PONTIFICAL SECRET: read HERE.
However, let us also consider the position that munus and ministerium can be synonyms and that one can mean the same thing as the other. Let’s see if this is true.
6) BONI EXPLAINS THAT THEY ARE NOT SYNONYMS IN THE JURIDICAL SENSE
“Prof. Geraldina Boni,” explains the lawyer Estefania Acosta, maintains in her book “Sopra una rinuncia” (2015) that at times munus and ministerium are indicated as synonyms, for example in the 2003 exhortation Pastor Gregis by John Paul II. However, she herself admits that this synonymy occurs ONLY IN THE NON-JURIDICAL SENSE, that is, when the word munus is understood in the sense of “function,” “task,” “service,” or “activity” tied to a certain (indelible) “ontological qualification” determined by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Instead, as Boni herself admits (pp. 180-181), there is a SECOND MEANING ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE WORD MUNUS, a meaning that is no longer ontological or sacramental but rather “JURIDICAL,” equivalent to “office” [or “position” – carica] and “almost equivalent to officium,” which results from canon 145 of the Code of Canon Law, which indicates how every munus (or “office”) permanently established for a spiritual purpose by the divine law (Mt 16:18-19 and Jn 21:15-17) is also an ecclesiastical office. This being the case, one sees that, also for Boni, THIS SECOND MEANING OF THE WORD MUNUS BREAKS ANY POSSIBLE SYNONYMY WITH THE WORD MINISTERIUM. Thus far, no objections to the professor.”
7) SO, WHY DOES BONI DEFEND THE LEGITIMACY OF BERGOGLIO? THE FINAL ERROR
“Boni’s (gross) error,” continues Acosta, “lies in gratuitously and erroneously affirming that Benedict XVI renounced the MUNUS precisely in the second juridical meaning, while the text of the Declaratio never says such a thing. Prof. Boni writes: “In short, in the light of THIS TWO-FOLD SENSE OF MUNUS, Ratzinger, with his Declaratio, could have only wanted to recall, and not (as is already well understood) to determine, how, LAYING DOWN THE MUNUS AS AN OFFICE, he would not strip himself of the sacramental MUNUS [Editor’s note: the non-juridical one]: which moreover would not have in any way been within his faculty of disposition, confirming that the power of the pope is not an absolutist or totalitarian power, flowing first of all within the boundaries laid down for it by ius divinum.”
AND INSTEAD, THE POPE HAS VERY CAREFULLY ABSTAINED FROM RENOUNCING THE MUNUS PETRINUM, instead resigning the MINISTERIUM: “…declaro me MINISTERIO Episcopi Romae … commisso renuntiare”!!!
[Furthermore, Boni suggests that, with the Declaration, Pope Benedict wanted to emphasize that he did not detach himself from the sacramental munus (that is, the episcopal munus, not the juridical munus), and she adds the obvious fact that this munus is indispensable and un-renounceable, also for the Pope. Yet we note that in the General Audience of 27 February 2013, His Holiness Benedict XVI affirms that it was precisely on 19 April 2005, accepting his election to the office of the Roman Pontiff, that he committed himself “always and forever to the Lord.” How can we understand such a sentence from the Pope, which suggests an indelibility of the Pontificate, despite the fact that it does not constitute a sacrament and therefore lacks an “ontological” indelible character? One notes that the Pope links his definitive or “forever” commitment, not with his episcopal ordination (that is, not with his sacramental munus) but with his assumption of the primacy. This statement alone demolishes Boni’s affirmation that the only thing Benedict XVI has preserved “forever” after the Declaratio is the episcopal munus, not the Petrine munus. Thus, the sentence in question may be understood only if it is assumed, as we believe we have demonstrated, that THE DECLARATIO CONTAINS NOTHING OTHER THAN A NON-EXISTENT OR INVALID RESIGNATION OF THE PETRINE MUNUS.”]
IN SYNTHESIS: Prof. Boni admits that munus and ministerium are not in fact synonyms in the juridical sense. She admits that Ratzinger cites the munus in a juridical sense. Boni says that Ratzinger has renounced the juridical munus, maintaining the non-juridical munus, AND THIS IS NOT TRUE because he renounced the ministerium.
8) RATZINGER NEVER ABDICATED. SUMMARY:
Right in the very studies of Scaccia and Boni, the “legitimizers” of Bergoglio, we therefore have the following:
1) There are not two popes, nor an “enlarged papacy”
2) There is only one pope
3) The position of “pope emeritus” does not exist
4) Munus and ministerium are not synonyms in a juridical sense
5) Ratzinger used munus in a juridical sense, without ever having renounced it
6) He separated the two entities, which however are indivisible in the case of the Pope
7) And yet he renounced the wrong entity, that is, the ministerium.
As we have seen, Papa Ratzinger did everything one could do to render a resignation invalid, in addition to accompanying it with two serious errors in Latin despite being an excellent Latinist, probably in order to arouse interest in the document HERE.
“We can also add,” Sànchez comments, “the submission of an action like the resignation which is, in itself, a matter of divine law, to a condition of temporal determination,” that is, the resignation which Ratzinger deferred to 28 February 2013 which was never confirmed after the hour of 8:00 p.m., about which the theologian Carlo Maria Pace and the jurist Francesco Patruno have spoken HERE and HERE, which once again, according to the authors, renders the resignation invalid. Papa Ratzinger could have done all this in a fully conscious way, according to PLAN B, or even unconsciously, through a series of very particular and fortuitous coincidences and distractions (perhaps “guided” by the Holy Spirit?), but whichever way it was, it changes little.
9) THE CANONICAL “LAST STRONGHOLD”: “THE UNIVERSALIS ECCLESIAE ADHAESIO”
The last objection of the Bergoglians concerns the doctrine of the so-called Universalis Ecclesiae Adhaesio” according to which, since no cardinal who participated in the conclave of 2013 is protesting or raising doubts about the election of Francis, it is therefore to be considered good and valid. “Such a doctrine,” explains Professor Sànchez, “was never intended to save, heal, or consider satisfied the “CONDITIO SINE QUA NON” without which a provision could never be initiated. In the case of the papacy, this condition is that THE SEE IS VACANT, that is, that the reigning pope is dead or has validly abdicated. The Universalis Ecclesiae Adhaesio could remedy a posteriori an error or a lacuna in the canonical provision of the election of the Pope, once it has begun, but never the preceding condition for the initiation of that provision. Here are the details.
10) IN SYNTHESIS:
Acosta and Sànchez say that the conclave mentioned in Universalis Ecclesiae Adhesio ought to be a legitimate conclave, that is, held after a pope dies or abdicates. But since Benedict did not abdicate, the conclave of 2013 never existed. The “Pope Emeritus” is therefore the only existing Pope. There is only one Pope, Benedict XVI. Therefore, Francis is an anti-pope.