Commentary by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
If we are to plumb the depths of a controversy, we need to stick to principles and not pick and chose only the facts we want, crafting them to the narrative or interpretation that we support. Yet, Ann Barnhardt continues to want to imply that Pope Benedict XVI intentionally and maliciously resigned the ministry not the munus, because he believes the Papacy can be held by two persons at the same time.
Indeed, Barnhardt has gone over the edge of propriety when in her recent posts she claims to tell us what the dreams of the Holy Father are!
In her blog post from May 29, 2022, she quotes again the talk by Archbishop Georg Ganswein from May 20, 2016 — the very talk which launched Barnhardt upon the path of declaring the Renunciation invalid. A position that she has not altered or changed. But along with that a presumption, that Pope Benedict XVI acted out of error and/or with malice of aforethought — the latter she implies at least.
But Barnhardt forgets her principles, namely, that no one speaking except Pope Benedict XVI is Pope Benedict XVI speaking. She reads Ganswein as if he were another person sharing the Papal Office with Benedict. And she seems to think that Pope Benedict XVI, in being asked by Ganswein to say something about his action on Feb. 11, 2013, was thereby endorsing everything he said.
I won’t even get into the fact that she is reading the English translation, not the German original of Ganswein’s talk. A thing which he repudiated after the fact as faulty.
And indeed, Ganswein himself gets angry if anyone brings up his talk in German on May 20, 2016, precisely because, as he says, it has been misunderstood badly.
Barnhardt is one of those who has misunderstood it badly.
Archbishop Ganswein has ever held that Benedict XVI abdicated and that Bergoglio is the only Pope. I have a recorded phone call from him, to me personally, affirming that. He was extremely angry with me for implying that Benedict XVI is still the pope. Regardless what anyone else thinks he might have meant by what he said to me, I have to take him at his word. He even changed his coat of arms to add those of Bergoglio, AFTER this speech which Barnhardt quotes as scripture.
But it is not scripture. And Gänswein is not a faithful expositor of Benedict’s thought.
I remind the readers, here:
Let’s keep in mind the 3 things: the office conferred by the munus, the ministry which is an obligation of that and can be shared, and the dignity which is only legitimately held by the one with the munus and office.
Indeed, as a principle, you cannot quote a secretary’s talk as a key to interpret the published writings and interviews of his boss. Gänswein, shows that he is attempting to play both sides by sending out letters with different stationary headings, some with Benedict’s some with Bergoglio’s. To trust this man as a witness to what the Holy Father means or intends is folly, in any book of the sane.
So to return to Gänswein’s talk. It is clear that he is trying to expound a thesis which would justify him claiming dignity and authority for both Bergoglio and Pope Benedict XVI. He is clearly proposing a solution to the dilemma of two persons in the Vatican claiming the title “Pope”. But he is NOT claiming that Benedict is still the Vicar of Christ. He holds that Bergoglio alone is the Pope in that sense of the word.
The Archbishop can invent any thesis he wants to explain what two men are called Pope, but he cannot change what Benedict XVI says or means. Cionci has clearly established by dozens of citations that Benedict XVI by his own words, in interviews, biographies, writings, letters, always holds the same position. There is one human person who is the pope. He alone is legitimate. The other is a pretender.
Thus, both Benedict XVI and Gänswein agree. There are not two popes. Only one is the Vicar of Christ. But Benedict XVi identifies himself as such, and Gänswein identifies Bergoglio as such. Gänswein also claims that both, however, have a papal dignity.
In her post of May 31, 2022, Barnhardt double downs on her position. She claims that another Archbishop, Miller by name, in his book proves that Benedict XVI wants an expanded Petrine Ministry. But her proof is merely an interpretation based upon her assertion and will that Ratzinger in a book was employing the Overton Window technique for verbal dissimulation.
She never proves that he dissimulated.
So she has proven nothing, but what Docherty recently claimed: Benedict XVI is a sinner and you who claim he is not, must prove it!
This is a ridiculous way of arguing. And it’s Calvinistic, not Catholic.
But Barnhardt has in her rush to condemn the Holy Father fallen into the same error of those modernists she condemns rightly for reading munus, when Benedict writes ministerium.
Because, as we see through history — if your read the history of the Church in detail from the beginning to the present day — you would notice that whereas the man who is the Pope has always been one human person holding the munus, he has at different times in history sometimes alone exercised the ministerium, sometimes associated others to help him.
The Petrine Ministry is not what the Pope does only by himself. It has never been. But it is what the Pope does when he formally associates another with him to help him by a canonical juridical act, such as appointing a Cardinal to head the Holy Office of the Inquisition, rather than heading it himself.
Thus, Ratzinger is correct that in history this ministry can change and be shared. But no where does he imply that it is shared by equals!
And no where does anyone claim that by renouncing the ministerium instead of the munus, a canonical approval has been given to an institution of Pope emeritus or an election by the Cardinals in-a-Conclave-to confer-the-munus for the purpose of confering the Petrine Mininstry.
To claim otherwise, would be to imply that the Holy Father is a raving madman, idiot and canonical loony, who believes a declaration establishes and removes, alters and replaces established canon law. — A fact which is totally unsupportable when you consider that just 7 days later he signs an alteration of the Papal Law for Conclaves, without any mention whatsoever of an abdication or diarchic alteration of the Petrine Ministry. — Barnhardt is implying that Benedict has split personalities or is psychotic. Failing that, that he is totally irrational and inconsistent.
So thus, the entire hypothetical interpretation of Barnhardt falls to dust. It is nothing more than her personal assertion based on her obsession that the Holy Father be in error and be mislead by error. And it is totally sequestered from all other historical facts or events in the Church or in his pontificate.
Moreover, her prejudice against the Holy Father is simply another repackaging of the hate directed at him after his resignation of ministry. It cleverly puts all the fault on him and provides an excuse for Bergoglio.
As such, I reject it as demonically inspired, and as what it is, another calumny launched against an innocent man by a woman who finds fault where it does not exist, and refuses to see fault in what her bathroom mirror shows her every morning.