What Pope Benedict XVI’s Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013 really meant

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I have previously published two translations of Pope Benedict XVI’s Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013, which is the basis of the claims of the Vatican that the pope has abdicated. In addition, published a 7 part documentary on Youtube (here) which explains the canon law, logic, linguistics and philosophical considerations which arise in its regard.

As for my previous two translations, in my former, I attempted a better version of the Vatican translation, presuming it was correct.  In my second, I showed that the Latin does not mean what the Vatican translation makes it say it to mean.

But since in my second translation, I myself criticized the papal text presuming it intended to say what the Vatican translation made it say, I owe it to Pope Benedict XVI and to history to translate it again, leaving aside all presuppositions as to what it means, and letting the Latin speak for itself.

To show the true and authentic meaning, I will intersperse the English among the Latin, and explain where and how the Latin may mean 2 different things at the same time. This is the style of the great Latinists of the ancient world, just as Juvenal, Virgin and Cicero.  And since Cionci has discovered that Pope Benedict XVI in German and Italian always speaks in a way which can be read in two different senses, this may in fact be the true sense of the Latin in this document too.

But we must remember, that this text was written by Benedict XVI, according to what he was allowed to say to Peter Sewald his official biographer, and then corrected by the Secretary of State personnel. So in truth it has two authors, both of whom may not have had the same intention or mind in making it signify the same thing.

Since this translation would take a long time to explain, I will constrain my remarks here to only three phrases, the first, the renunciation and the last prayer, which frame it in such a way that only one reading is logically and grammatically consistent.

Literal Translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s
Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013

The Opening Shot

Non solum propter tres canonizationes (1) ad hoc Consistorium (2) vos convocavi (3), sed etiam ut vobis decisionem magni momenti pro Ecclesiae vita communicem (4.

Not only for the sake of the three acts of canonization have I called you together for this Consistory, but also so that I may communicate a separation from you of great moment for the life of the Church.


(1) I have previously criticized this construction, proper tres canonizationes, because propter is not used this way in Latin. Rendering it as, “for the sake of the three acts of canonization” preserves its awkward signification.  The correct Latin should be a dative of purpose such as tribus canonizationibus or better celebrandis his tres canonizationibus, that is, “to celebrate these three canonizations”, the “these” (his) being required on account of the act having just taken place. But perhaps this omission indicates that the timing of the reading of the text was not determined before the text was composed or at the time of its correction.

(2) This should be, in my judgement, in hoc Consistorio, since it is an event, not a place, and thus should not be introduced by ad, which can only be used for places and purposes. Those who think in modern languages cannot see or understand such distinctions.

(3) Here the document shows its first canonical error, since the verb should be in the first person plural, “have We called you together” (convocavimus), since the act of convening a Consistory is a juridical act of the Roman Pontiff, not of the man who is the Roman Pontiff.  This error implies the possibility that this entire sentence was added to the core text of the Declaration as a clumsy sort of introduction to set the context, once the time and place of the declaration was determined and by someone either totally ignorant of the distinction between the Roman Pontiff and the man who abdicates, or someone who intentionally wanted to draw our attention to the fact that this text is not by the Roman Pontiff but by the man who is the Roman Pontiff and thus cannot be read as valid by recourse to an appeal to papal power, being above canon law.

(4) This next phrase is, in my opinion, the entire key to the whole Declaration. It is written in a very exact and subtle style which only a true Latinist can see, who is familiar with the classical forms and knows its rules. The rude or clumsy reader will render it as the Vatican translations have rendered it, but that is not what it means.  For decisio, is the Bonaventuran and Augustinian word for a physical separation, a falling off, a falling away, a dying.  And vobis cannot be a direct object of the main verb, communicem (inasmuch as there is no known usage of this kind in the entire history of the Latin tongue to my knowledge and to that of all the Latinists who have argued with me in vain on this score).  Therefore, it must be a dative with decisio, and thus either a dative of reference, agent or a dative of possession. So it must be either “a separation from you”, “a separation for you”, or “your separation”. This reading, as a “separation from you”, is in my opinion the most sound one. It is  based on the usage of Tacitus in his Germania, chapter 10, where he uses the verb decido, “to cut off” with virgam arbori “a branch from a tree”. This is a very important theological and ecclesiological concept used by Our Lord Himself, in regard to the Divine vineyard owner Who must trim the vines to make it produce fruit.  The construction with communicem is in turn suggested by the Roman Historian Suetonius, in his book on Caligula, n. 56: consilium communicaverunt perfeceruntque, where consilium is replaced by decisionem. The entire phrase is constructed to show the decisive authoritative sentence of Pope Benedict XVI in making a determination and announcing it to the world and to the Cardinals.  His declaration of separation from them, obviously, is a meaning that they will never admit to, and the entire text of his Declaratio shows in what this consists and when it will begin and what the consequences of it will be. Benedict omits in this phrase, “my” with “separation”, so give emphasis that it is the separation of the whole Church from the cardinals. And he uses “moment” (momentum) not “importance” (importantia) to show that the entire weight of history will be struck and moved by his decision. By adding  pro “of the life of the Church”, he is showing that his act will enliven and save the true Church from that which is grasping its deadly hands around Her. As such, this one phrase is a masterpiece of Latinity, which hides its true meaning from the ignorant, who read vobis as an error for vobiscum and decisio in the juridical modern sense commonly used, as the official Vatican translations render it.

There follows in the Declaration, the preamble which explains the Pope’s motivations for public consumption and serves to deflect analysis of the text by the power hungry cardinals. I will simply republish my translation of this from this version here.

Having scouted out my conscience again and again before God, I have arrived at certain cognition — my strengths by my worsening age are no longer apt — to administer the Munus petrinum equitably. I am well conscious that this Munus according to his spiritual essence ought to be pursued not only by doing and speaking, but no less by suffering and by praying. Yet, however, in the world of our season, subjected to hasty acts of change, and perturbed by questions of great value on behalf of the life of faith, a certain vigor of body and soul is necessary to steer the Barque of Saint Peter and the Gospel to announce, which (strength) in me in these furthest months is lessening in such a manner, that to well administer the ministry committed to me, I ought to acknowledge my incapacity.

And now for the key phrase regarding the Renunciation:

Quapropter (5) bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio (6) Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium (7) die 19 aprilis MMV commisso (8) renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae (9), sedes Sancti Petri vacet (10) et  Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse (11).

On which account (5), well conscious of the weight of this act I declare in full liberty, that I renounce the ministry (6) of the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Saint Peter, committed (8) to me  through the hands of the Cardinals (7) on the 19th of April, 2005, to leave unused (10) from the 28th of February, at 20:00 hours, Rome time (9), the See of Saint Peter, and that a Conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff is to be convoked by those who are competent (11).


(5) Pope Benedict opens this key section with the significant word, “On which account”, (quapropter) which refers to all which has been said above from the first key phrase onward as his motivation.

(6) Then he declares — he does not renounce — he declares that he renounces.  This utterly voids the act of any juridical value since a declaration is not a juridical act, it is merely an administrative act of informing others about an action taken or being take or to be taken. In this case the second and latter. He furthermore does NOT fulfil canon 332 §2, which requires the renunciation of the papal munus. He renounces instead the ministerium.  By doing so he withdraws all possibility of the Cardinals and the Roman Curia of sharing in its exercise. And thus separates his office from them! And thus nullifies in advance all canonical acts made after his departure.  He thus also separates himself ecclesiologically from the Cardinals and all the Bishops, since the petrine ministry is to confirm them in the Faith.  Such a decision is an apocalpytic one. And it is explained by the last words in this section.  This is the explanation of the vobis decisionem magni momenti pro Ecclesia vitae of the first phrase.

(7) The ministry received through the hands of the Cardinals is not even the Petrine Ministry, which flows naturally from the Office which is conferred by Christ directly upon the one who accepts his canonical election. In this, Benedict seems to be saying, I am giving back to you what you gave me, nothing. I am not going to be a puppet leader in your hands any longer. I want nothing more to do with you.

(8) When Benedict read his Declaratio aloud, at this point he said commissum, not commisso.  This was seen as an error by all, but it actually says something profound. By saying commissum he is saying, that he committed himself to his Papal office from the day of his election.  And thus implies that the Cardinals are the ones who have betrayed Christ, not he. He did his duty inasmuch as he was able.

(9) There are still those who follow the others translations and get this wrong. So I repeat it here, that it refers to time zones, not to the papal office.

(10) To leave unused the see of St. Peter.  Here the Latin does not speak of a sede vacante, it uses rather the root verb, “to leave unused” (vacet). This explains his renunciation of minsterium rather than of munus. It also shows exactly what is going on in the Church for 8 years.

(11)  And that a new Conclave is to be called — sometime in the future — by those who are competent. That is, not by you who are in my presence, since as I have said, I have declared that you are cut-off from me.

The Declaration finishes thus:

Dearest Brothers: from my whole heart you I thank for all your physical love and the work, by which you bore with me the weight of my ministry and I ask pardon for all my failings. Moreover, now We completely trust the Holy Church of God to the care of the Most High Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and We implore His holy Mother, Mary, to assist with Her maternal goodness, the Cardinal fathers in electing a new supreme pontiff. As far as regards myself, I would also wish to serve with my whole heart in a future by a life dedicated to prayer for Holy Mother Church.


Finally, at the end, by using the subjunctive, the Holy Father shows that he is speaking contrary to fact. Because he has not abdicated, so there is no need for him to ask what to do after Feb. 28, 2013, as Pontiff he can do as he pleases, and indeed no one has dared disturb him in that.

In conclusion, I believe the above translation which is faithful to Latin grammar is the only one fully consonant with the facts of history before and after Feb. 11, 2013, in which Benedict XVI was hated and opposed by all inside and outside of the Roman Curia and thus declared his separation rather than renounced his office, so that with the help of the Holy Spirit, the effects of being separated from the Successor of St Peter might show themselves in the Church and reveal to all the faithful both the comploters and the conspiracy against Her in act.

This translation also explains why Benedict XVI refuses to speak with nearly all the Cardinals and Bishops after Feb. 28, 2013.

Canonically, the Declaratio of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013 is to totally uproot the College of Cardinals as an institution which participates in the election of the Roman Pontiff, since now that they have elected an antipope and adhered to him they are excommunicate in virtue of canon 1364 and separated from the Church completely. Therefore, they lose all their offices and thus their right to elect the Pope.  And this means, that the actual result of the Declaratio is to sanction as legitimate the election of his successor by the Faithful of the Church of Rome, as St. Peter determined so long ago: these are the ones who are competent to elect his successor. — This is something the Roman Pontiff could not have achieved by a direct declaration, because in the very preparation of such a document he would have been opposed or assassinated. And that explains his cleverness and subtlety in acting as he has done.

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7 thoughts on “What Pope Benedict XVI’s Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013 really meant”

  1. Brother,
    I have just begun reading your article but I’ve already realized that we owe a loud DEO GRATIAS to the Holy Ghost and to you, His little instrument, a WELL DONE!
    Good job indeed.

  2. Excellent analysis, as always. Lately, I have been pondering the Holy Father’s instruction that a conclave be called, since it is unnecessary to do so, if the See has been lawfully vacated, per Universi domenici gregis. This would seem redundant, except if the See were not lawfully vacated.

  3. Cardinal Burke is dying. He let them put him on a ventilator. Unbelievable. Thought the man was a little brighter. 🤦🏼‍♂️

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