Category Archives: 2013 Conclave

Unpacking Bishop Schneider’s Rosary of Lies, Errors and deceptions

Commentary and Rebuttal by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Authorized Portuguese Translation — Authorized French Translation

It is personally painful for me to have to, yet again, put pen to paper, as it were, and refute the silly arguments of a prelate whom I once admired as one of the best of the best in the Church. While he took the correct positions against Amoris Laetitia and the ridiculous arguments of the SSPX in their Magazine, on the topic of the DeathVaxx, he has more frequently than not fallen somehow into supporting the most ridiculous theological and moral theses on controversial topics (see here for’s coverage of the Bishop’s notorious interventions).

But because I love Jesus Christ more than any Bishop in the Church, whenever one gravely deviates from the truth on such an important topic as who is the pope and what are the Catholic principles by which we are to recognize who is the pope, I know I am under grave obligation to speak out, seeing that I know these principles and am known for defending them.

First, we know who is the authentic successor of Saint Peter not by private judgement, public opinion, polls, surveys, theological reflections, newspaper articles, television reports. No, we know who is the authentic successor of St. Peter by the conformity of public acts with the published canons and laws of the Church which determine the process for his election or renunciation.  And this conformity must be precise and exact and not one which is simply claimed to exist. It has to be prima facie, as one says in forensic circles, that is, it must appear to be conform on first sight.  — And it cannot be otherwise, because since the Church is visible, the concord of the Church must be and can only be based on unambiguous public acts and laws, and their conformity.

Second, you can argue till your face is blue in Hell for all eternity by any other means, but your argument is worthless. Argumentation does not prove who is the true pope. Only facts and laws do. (Here by facts, I mean documented or documentable words or actions).

And third, by conformity with the law, I refer to the fulfillment of a legal requirement.

Bishop Schneider proposes the error of Traditionalism, as his false principle of discernment

So it is crystal clear that Bishop Scheider’s entire thesis is false from the get go, as they say in parts of the United States: namely, when he says, that to say Pope Benedict XVI is the true Pope is contrary to Tradition.  Because tradition, whether sacred and divine or merely ecclesiastical, is not a first immediate principle to have recourse to, in determining who is the authentic successor of Saint Peter is. Facts and law are. This argument is the flip of the common Modernist argument, which says you should reject some Catholic practice or doctrine, because it is contrary to the progress of the Church in modern times.  And by this comparison with its contrary error, we see that Bishop Schneider is appealing to the error of traditionalism, which was condemned at Vatican I: which error says that all truth comes from tradition.

If facts and law say Benedict XVI is still the pope — and you do not like that conclusion — you cannot have recourse to Tradition or tradition to propose a different answer to the question.  That’s not how juridical acts work. But that is how spoiled children who never grew up attempt to run governments and even the Church.

Bishop Schneider appeals to the moral error of Tutiorism, to apply his false principle

Next, Bishop Schneider advances his traditionalist error on the back of an exaggerated moral principle known as tutiorism, which holds that in every moral decision one must always make the choice of that which is more safe.  This principle is faulty because it leads to neurosis and a pharasaical self-righteousness, where the individual determines what is right and wrong and not God.

This error is not easy to discern by those who are given to wantonness because it never occurs to them to consider it. But it is the exact error of their own vice, since it insists that it is morally evil not to be obsessed with seeing possible evil in everything. The super-scrupulous easily fall into complete paralysis of judgement by adopting the error of tutiorism, for example.

But lest there be no misunderstandings, I will give some examples.

  • The tutiorist will hold that in brushing your teeth you should never do so out of vanity and that you should omit all brushing of the teeth until you can do so without vanity, even if this would cause your teeth to rot.
  • Again, the turiorist, will hold that it is too dangerous ever to go in public, because by being in public places you might be tempted to impurity, and thus they omit to fulfill even the duties of their state, when these require some recourse to public places to obtain the necessities of life or to fulfill religious duties.

Tutiorism, alas, is a very deceptive form of pride, because the one thing the turiorist is never worried about, is the misuse of his own discretion to determine what is right or wrong, safe or dangerous. He always relies on his own judgement, not those of God, the Church, or wise and prudent men, such as Saints and pastors.

And this is precisely the moral error into which Bishop Schneider falls by crafting his entire argument, that in the name of safety, we should reject the thesis that Benedict XVI is still the pope.

Bishop Schneider employs a gross error in forensics

Again, at the beginning of his ridiculous discourse, Bishop Schneider crafts an argument against admitting prima facie evidence (namely that when Pope Benedict renounced, he announced the renunciation of ministerium, but did not renounce the munus).  Against this obvious problem all are having to ignore this fact, the Monsignor proposes a principle whereby you can ignore all facts (how convenient!):

The principle of legality applied ad litteram (to the letter) or that of juridical positivism was not considered in the great practice of the Church an absolute principle, since the legislation of the papal election is only a human (positive) law, and not a Divine (revealed) law.

The human law that regulates the assumption of the papal office or the dismissal from the papal office must be subordinated to the greater good of the whole Church, which in this case is the real existence of the visible head of the Church and the certainty of this existence for all the body of the Church, clergy and faithful.

Now, it is clear that anyone who holds that Pope Benedict XVI remains the only and true pope, does not have to appeal to such an argument, which seeks to overturn the letter of the law or the plain meaning of documents, and says that they should be read to serve the greater good of the Church.

This approach to Church law is like the the boy who believes that all laws are like library regulations, or that the laws against murder are light traffic laws.  Which is simply not so. Yes, there are norms, regulations and laws, but not each have the same obligating force, because not each exists for the same purpose.  Norms are advisory, regulations are bureaucratic and laws are legally binding, such as to make infraction criminal, even if only as a misdemeanor.

There are norms in libraries, such as to keep quite. There are regulations about how to fill out your driver’s license application. And then there is the law against murder.  And if you imagine, as an adult, that each is equally binding or not binding, you have only a child’s comprehension of the matter.  For in libraries sometimes you can and must speak. The rule of silence is practical only. At motor vehicle registries, the regulations on how to fill out your application are binding, but if you violate them you will not go to jail, you simply wont get your license.  But as for murder, you cannot say that someone who committed such a crime should not be prosecuted, simply because it serves the greater good, for it never serves the greater good to tolerate murder.

And obviously the papal laws on Papal Elections or the canon regarding Papal Renunciations is of the latter kind: it is a law, not a norm nor a regulation.

And so, I must say: No, Bishop Schneider: in the Catholic Church laws mean what they mean regardless of what you want them to mean or what outcome you want to have.  For as the saints all say, “I would prefer that the world perish, rather than that God be offended by one of my sins”.  This is true religion. Nothing can be justified merely on the basis that it achieves an outcome which we want. That is pagan.  A Catholic judges things on the basis of God’s judgements revealed in Scripture and contained in Sacred Tradition. Things are right and wrong in themselves and by themselves, apart even from circumstances and intentions or goals.  If goals alone determined such things, we could do as we want, and not as the Divine Will has commanded.

And, as regards having a valid pope, whom the whole Church can recognize as such, it is never for the good of the Church that any canon or law regarding his election or renunciation be violated!

Bishop Schneider’s insistence on a visible head of the Church

Yes, the Church should have a visible head, but the way that the Bishop wants this principle to be applied goes to every excess and extreme.  I do not find it necessary to point out, to the readers of FromRome.Info that in an argument about which of two living and speaking claimants to the papacy is the true one, a discussion about visibility makes no sense. — I almost get the impression that he says this to slight Pope Benedict XVI — Quite the contrary, yes, the Church ought to have a visible head, but Her existence and unity is not shaken per se by not having one, for this happens after the death of every pope, before his successor is elected.  Nor is the unity of the Church shaken by the fact that a true Pope remains a claimant to the Papacy against the false claims of an anti-pope.  To think like that would be to turn truth on its head.

And when one reflects on how outrageously Bergoglio has used his claim to the papacy to destroy the Church, to advance the argument that since he is more visibly the head he should be the pope, is simply a malign mafia style prudence equivalent to saying, that since the criminal who robbed you of the farm, de facto, is the better manager of its destruction, the owner loses all rights.  I mean who argues like this, but a Marxist and a demon?

Bishop’s Schneider’s total incomprehension of Ecclesia supplet during Papal Schisms

Next, the Bishop appeals to an false argument ad absurdum.  For he attempts to argue that since an anti-pope’s appointments are canonically invalid, the unity of the Church or the visibility of the Church would be somehow damaged by such an event.  He writes as if there have never been antipopes naming bishops or Cardinals. He imagines that the consecration of Bishops and the confection of Sacraments stopped during the Great Schism.  He also seems to think that the Church held, after the fact, that all such invalid appointments and illicit sacraments were such forever.

What he completely ignores, is that after these ancient papal schisms were ended, Popes ex post facto granted the appointment of Cardinals, the nomination of bishops and the confections of Sacraments canonical liceity by an act which is called sanatio in radice.  This is not a condonation of the immorality of those acts, but is a monarchical act of the Vicar of Christ for the sake of those who in good conscience were fooled by liars. Those who knew the antipope was an antipope are not by this act of sanatio excused from sin or from the obligation to repent. Not even from the obligation to resign their offices, unless the Pope grants them a personal or general indulgence.  The Popes generally grant such a sanatio after every papal schism, because it is sufficient that all bishops and clergy and faithful recognize the one true pope as pope, and it is not necessary to punish every sinner canonically, nay it would cause too much strife, when the peace of the Church does not require it. God will render the punishments in such cases, and the popes have always chosen the way of mercy and been very light in their punishments, after papal schisms, by restricting them to the antipope himself and his closest supporters or henchmen.

Bishop Schneider gets the matter backwards, when he argues instead that we can presume a sanatio in radice after an invalid resignation, because the Church’s peace requires it. We cannot presume any such thing. Such an act is reserved to the Vicar of Christ alone. And it has to be a written juridical act, otherwise is has no existence.

Bishop Schneider continues in ignorance about the events of 1046 A. D.

Even after being publicly corrected by numerous individuals, Bishop Schneider continues to ignore the facts of 1046 A. D., when at the Council of Sutri 3 “popes” or more exactly, papal claimants, were deposed.  He seems to think that Gregory VI obtained the papacy invalidly because of simony.  He is entitled to his opinion. But as there were almost never laws which invalidated papal elections on the basis of simony — not then, nor now: the only time being the Bull of Paul IV where in this determined an invalid election; which clause was overturned by his next successor because it would introduce too much doubt as to validity of any election — I think it would be difficult to support such an opinion.  Yes, Henry III, King of the Germans asked Gregory VI to resign because he did not want to be crowned Emperor by anyone with the stench of simony on his hands, and Gregory did so, because episcopal elections and nominations obtained by simony were canonically invalid and always held to be such, his behavior was in no way morally defensible. But the Pope is no mere bishop, and the Roman Church has always insisted that general laws for bishops do not apply to the Roman Pontiff.   This is why the Church recognizes Gregory VI as a true pope, even though he himself recognized that he obtained the papacy by simony and therefore had no moral claim to the title.

But you cannot apply this case to the present controversy over which is the pope: Benedict XVI or Francis, because there is a PAPAL law and there is a Papal canon, which do regard the validity of the election and resignation of the pope, both of which have not been observed!

Bishop Schneider’s red herring of 1378

Next Bishop Schneider wastes the time of his audience by discussing the papal election of 1378, which no one doubted the validity to, until the Cardinals who were French discovered that the new Pope was pro-Italian.  They then invented an excuse for their disobedience, and pharasaically claimed some circumstance of the election made it invalid, and immediately elected another as antipope. He argues as if what they did had some legitimacy.  And he implies that those who hold that Benedict XVI is the pope are in a similar situation of claiming a past failure of legal form and inventing an excuse to refuse allegiance to the new pope.

This is totally absurd.  The Cardinals profess a solemn vow in conclave to elect someone to receive the petrine munus. If the pope remains alive and has not renounced the munus, their vow does not legitimize their illegal action of electing another under those circumstances.  In fact, Bishop Schneider has flipped the moral case on its head. It is the Cardinals in the Conclave of 2013 who imitated the French Cardinals of 1378, as both proceeded to an illicit, illegal and illegitimate election of another pope, while the true pope which they all previously elected and supported was still alive and had not resigned.

Bishop Schneider then takes back 1378 and reinterprets 1294

Moments after appealing to 1378, Schneider pretends we have forgotten what he claimed was the correct position, namely, to support a reigning pope, and proposes the case of the papal renunciation made by Saint Celestine V on Dec. 13th, in the year of Our Lord, 1294.

On that day, Celestine V by written and signed decree, renounced the papacy.  No one doubted that the act existed and was signed by the Pope.  In all his behavior thereafter, he acted as a hermit: he took off the papal robes, renounced the dignity and left Rome. He even accepted being held under house arrest by his successor to prevent the faithful from approaching him.  The act was canonically explicit. I have reported on it here.

Therefore, there was no need of a sanatio in radice, and Boniface VIII never granted one. Nor has any pope since.

This case Bishops Schneider should have never mentioned, because if you argue that a canonically valid and explicit renunciation of the papacy should not be questioned, then you must sustain likewise that a canonically invalid and explicitly deficient renunciation of the papacy SHOULD BE QUESTIONED.  That is the simple logical conversion.

In conclusion

Bishop Schneider attempts to box off thought about his absurd position by saying that there will be no other way for Benedict XVI to have a successor, since Bergoglio has appointed the majority of Cardinals, who, if they are invalid, mean that there will never be a valid successor again.  This is equivalent to saying that since a thief now has full possession of your diamond ring, there is no point going to the police to report the crime and get them to obtain it back.

His moral principle fails from the virtues of zeal and justice for the House of God. It also fails on right, because, hypothetically, if no validly nominated Cardinal elector broke from the antipope within 20 days after Benedict XVI’s death, the papal law for Conclaves, which is the only normative practice which is canonically valid for the election of the pope, would ipso facto cease to bind, since in the case in which there are no Cardinals in communion with the Church, there is no obligation to elect a pope via a conclave of cardinal electors. And hence, in such hypothetical, the right to elect the Pope would return to its source, that is the Apostolic Tradition in the See of Rome, wherein the entire people of God in the Diocese, which encompasses Rome and the suburbican dioceses (which in law are not separate from Rome), would have the right to elect the Roman Pontiff to succeed Benedict XVI. And such an election would be legitimate and licit even if it could not be properly termed canonical or uncanonical. I have discussed this several times already. The right to election returns to its source, since the Papal law for elections is only an application of Apostolic Tradition, which cannot be annulled by custom nor overturned by any papal act, since it pertains to Sacred Tradition itself, that is, to the Deposit of the Faith. This is because the Roman Church is not the Church of Rome, but  the very Church Christ founded, with universal jurisdiction, which was not separated into dioceses in other parts of the world.

I think by now you can see that the Bishop has simply presented a Mafia style argument to serve a Mafia style usurpation of the papacy. The depths of depravity of judgement and opinion to which he has descended to sustain his opinion are most shameful.

In a better age, a bishop arguing like this would end up in a papal dungeon on bread and water. In the meantime, I think the only charitable thing to do is to ignore him as one of the worst of the worse.

How Pope Benedict XVI signaled to the Roman Curia that the Conclave of 2013 was invalid

Summary by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

For the Italian original, click Andrea Cionci’s Tweet above.

There are several strange things which happened on Feb. 28, 2013, which numerous authors, including myself have spoken of before. Among these are the fact that Pope Benedict XVi flew to Castel Gandolfo, and did not return to Bavaria. Another, is that he chose to speak to the crowds at 5:30 PM, even though he had announced his renunciation of ministry at 8 PM.  Then there was the bizarre statement, “After 8 PM I will not longer be the Pontiff Supreme”, which the Vatican Press concealed from the public by transcribing it as “Supreme Pontiff”,

Of this latter, Andrea Cionci, a native speaker of Italian, explained how this inverts the meaning from that signifying the papal title, to that which signifies the usurpation of power by another pretender, a subtlety only an educated Italian would notice.

But now, tipped off by a member of the Roman Curia, Cionci launches his major attack:  Pope Benedict XVI indicated clearly to members of the Roman Curia that the Conclave of March 2013 would be invalid and elect a usurper.  Was anyone listening?

Here is how Pope Benedict XVi did it, in a way only those who have spent a lifetime in the Roman Curia would have noticed:

He spoke to the crowds from the public balcony on the front facade of Castle Gandofo. You can see this in my report from Feb. 28, 2021:

I remarked that day, that the balcony was decorated above it by an ancient sun dial, which was used to tell time before modern era. In fact, as Cionci reports, it was inscribed to measure time according to the old Papal standard, where each new day begins at 6 P. M., following the liturgical calendar, where the Vigil begins the new day at sundown.

So when Pope Benedict XVI spoke at 5:30 P. M., he was speaking at 23:30 P. M. according to old Papal time.

And he indicates this, when he ended his address that evening, because he said, “Bounanotte” to the crowds below, instead of the proper Italian salute for the evening, “Buona sera”, which indicates that night has not yet fallen.

Now some authors have speculated that he did this to indicate that after him would come a spiritual darkness, but Cionci’s tipster in the Vatican says it was to indicate that he was measuring time according to the Papal standard.

So when he says, “At 8 P. M., I will not longer be the Pontiff Supreme”, seeing that 8 P. M. according to the old standard had already passed at 1 P. M. that afternoon, his statement must be referred to 1 P. M. on March 1, 2013.

And that makes his entire phrase a perfect signification: for at that hour the Dean of the College of Cardinals had announced he was to convene a conclave to elect another pope. A thing which was illegal, uncanonical and unjust, seeing that Pope Benedict XVI had not abdicated.

So Benedict XVI has, by this short phrase, “At 8 P. M., I shall no longer be the Pontiff Supreme”, followed by “Buonanotte”, has left his own personal canonical testimony that he regarded the Conclave of 2013 as illegitimate, and its elected Cardinal, an antipope.

And this confirms Cionci’s and my own interpretation of the Declaratio: that Benedict XVI in saying that a new pope will have to be elected, “by those who are competent”, expressly indicated that the Cardinal in his presence would be in schism from himself if they did not understand that he was not abdicating.

For more on this, see my article, Pope Benedict XVI: Time Lord.

UPDATE: The English translation of Cionci’s article is now availabe:

Responding to a juridical positivist

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo


Recently, the Most Rev. Henry Gracida, on his blog published a long critique, entitled, “Some Thoughts about the status of Cardinals etc.”, of a post, here at the From Rome Blog, entitled, “How usurpation of the Papacy leads to the excommunication of the participating Cardinal Electors and Bishops“.

Since, I intend to respond to the charges brought against my position, I recommend that all readers first read both articles, in chronological order. — Since the commentator is anonymous, I will refer to him by the initials of his nome du plume: CC.

The argument marshaled against my position contains a list of ridiculous errors.  The first of which is derived from juridical positivism, which holds that nothing is certain in reality unless it be judged by a competent court of law, holding constitutional authority to judge the matter. This is the kind of error no one but a Canonist or Lawyer would fall into, because it reduces the realm of epistemological truth to that of what a court recognizes as facts. Now, its quite understandable that someone exercising the profession of a lawyer or canonist, who must prove everything to the level of certitude had in the courts before whom he appears, to have such a habit of mind, but is quite a grand moral and philosophical error to hold that such a criterion is validly applied to the whole of reality.

On the contrary, the human mind can know truth with certitude. This is a fundamental presupposition of all human endeavor, because if it be denied, then there could be no faith given by one man to another on the basis of human judgements. Now just as the human mind can exist outside the mind of a lawyer before a court, so the human mind can know truth with certitude outside of the court of law. To say otherwise, would be psychotic, that is divorced from reality.

I say this to preface the notion of latae sententiae excommunication as a canonical penalty in the new code of Canon law. Many canonists, proceeding from the mindset of juridical positivism hold that whereas such penalties are published in the Code, they are either never incurred or that they can never with certainty be known to be incurred, until, in both cases, a competent authority declares them.

The fundamental error of this position, is that the very Latin of the penalty contradicts their position:  “latae sententiae” in Latin means, without the necessity of a juridical sentence being handed down. This means, that the one who violates the law which bears this penalty for violation, is penalized BEFORE and WITHOUT any public declaration of the penalty being inferred.  This being the case, a human mind can know of it with certitude. The certitude I speak of here is the certitude of natural reason which from facts which are in the external forum and known by documented evidence or eye-witness testimony, can be with seen as fulfilling the conditions for the excommunication to be incurred.

What CC attempts in criticizing me is a sophistic error:  For first he argues that such excommunications cannot be known with certitude, and then asserts that such certitude can only be had in a court of law, from which he infers that I am wrong in saying that Cardinals are excommunicated. — As an aside, no where in my article do I say that any Cardinal is excommunicated;  I merely said that Cardinals and Bishops are subject to the penalty.

While it it true, that in the Catholic Church, the incurring of any ecclesiastical penalty, whether declared or not, should be made known by ecclesiastical authority for the sake of the unity of the Church, it is not true, that all of them are NOT incurred if ecclesiastical authority through corruption, fear, sloth or some other vice, fails to declare that they are incurred.  For excommunications latae sententiae are incurred by the law itself. Those who say otherwise are simply ignorant of Latin.  To say this idea of excommunication as “automatic” is merely a canard, since as is clear it depends not upon the private individual or merely the act of violation, BUT by the imposition before the fact by the Supreme Legislator, the Pope, of a penalty which applies to all future violations ipso facto.

He extends this error of juridical positivism in the most clericalist manner by denying that a Catholic can know with certitude if a Conclave be valid or not, when a Conclave is called to elect another pope, while the first pope is still alive! — This is pure insanity! That is like saying a layman cannot know the Moon is eclipsing the Sun, just because he saw the Moon blot out the Sun! — You have to be totally psychotic to even say such a thing.

The truth is, the certitude that a Conclave is invalid is had from the certitude of the facts according to which it would not be licit to convene the Conclave. In the case in question, this certitude derives from the certitude that Pope Benedict XVI never resigned the petrine munus.  Which certitude is objective, real, verifiable, documented and testified to by 2 things: the document Non solum propter, which only renounces the ministerium, and canon 332 §2 which says a Pope resigns when he resigns the munus.  Since every Latinist knows that ministerium and munus are not only different words, but which do not share the same significations in ecclesiastical usage, the certitude that Pope Benedict XVI never resigned the Papal Office is both prima facie and a necessary consequent of the law (especially since canon 38 required that if Benedict wanted to signify munus by ministerium, he would have had to explicitly derogate the obligation of canon 332 §2 in its fundamental conditional clause).

Those who have studied and understood philosophy know that both in logic and in moral and legal affairs, the certitude of principles and causes extends and flows down through to conclusions and effects.  A Canonist who is expert in the procedural rules of declared and imposed penalties which are not latae sententiae, might think differently, since he moves in a world of courts, but that is not the whole of reality. Thus to discount canon 359, the canon which forbids Cardinals to convene a conclave when there is no sede vacante, is not only absurd but should make anyone who knows Canon Law doubt whether CC has ever read the law.

Next, in regard to his attempt to fault me for misreading 1382, he seems never to have read the Code of Canon Law of 1983, which specifically obrogates the old code and makes recourse to its terms unauthentic when the new code establishes a greater penalty, which is true in the case of episcopal consecrations. And no, contrary to CC’s assertion, when I said, “ordain” I mean “consecrate” because the consecration of Bishops is a species of the power of ordination, a thing everyone who knows his theology of the Sacraments knows well enough. CC furthermore goes off into the fog, by saying in effect that an AntiPope consecrating Bishops or nominating Bishops is only guilty if he is feigning to have the authority of the Pope to confer jurisdiction. What kind of argument he is trying to make by moving this against the case in question, I do not know, because that is what an Anti-Pope objectively does!!!

The appeal to canon 1405 §1, 2°, namely, that the Pope alone judges the Cardinals, is praeter rem, because in legislating canonical penalties which apply to everyone in the Church, without exception, Pope John Paul II did judge the Cardinals  beforehand.  Those who have studied Canon Law and understand its nature know this well.

Finally, all CC’s other assertions saying things cannot be known or known with certitude, by anyone but the Canonist or Judge in a court of Canon Law, or by the Pope alone, is merely an extension of juridical positivism, an absurd professional error of snobbery among poorly schooled lawyers. Canonists who know the Faith understand well that Canon Law’s fundamental context is the Catholic Faith and that it must be understood in a manner which does not conflict with objective reality and epistemology. Like the Catholic Faith, it is not a gnostic science in which the truth is only known by the initiates who study at Pontifical Universities.

I invite all those who have not yet done so, to read my original article on the Excommunication of Cardinals and Bishops who participate in the usurpation of the Papal Office more carefully, and they will see how I speak of moral causes and the terms of the law, and how I never said anyone was excommunicated, only that if they know what they did, they merit to have incurred the penalty. This is perfectly Catholic.

As a Postscript, I add, that I am not in the least offended by the publication of CC’s critique. I appreciate the occasion to manifest the truth better through the clash of mental swords. — I would also note that, what really irks Canonists and Bishops about my article is that I have put them on notice that their offices and privileges be derived from a true Pope, not a fake pope; in other words, I am reminding the malicious ones that their entire project is null and void, and that they are risking losing communion with Christ, canonically speaking, if they have not already done so.









The Validity of Benedict’s Resignation, Part II: Ad Contrarium


By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

In the previous article, entitled, The Validity of Pope Benedict’s Resignation must be Questioned, I recited the history of the controversy over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on the topic of substantial error in the resignation and then proceeded to explicate 20+ arguments against the validity.

Here, I will list the arguments for the validity, inasmuch as I find and understand them. If you know of more, let me know in the comments section below.  After each argument pro-Validity, I will post, for the reader’s convenience the argument against it — deviating in this small manner from proper Scholastic form. There is no particular order among the arguments, but the strongest ones are at the end.

Whether Pope Benedict XVI by means of the act expressed in his address, “Non solum propter”, resigned the office of the Bishop of Rome?

Ad contrarium:

And it seems that he did:

1. Because, Pope Benedict XVI as pope is above Canon Law. Therefore, he does not need to resign according to the form of Canon 332 §2.  Therefore, he resigned validly.

Ad obj. 1: To argue that the Pope is above Canon Law, and therefore the resignation is valid, is a sophism, which when examined is equivalent to 2 other erroneous propositions, namely:  “The Pope as pope is above canon law, ergo etc.”, and “The Pope as the man who is the pope is above the Law, ergo etc.”  To the first, I say: In the first case it is true that the Pope as pope is above canon law. However, the Pope when renouncing his office, does not renounce as Pope, but as the man who is the pope. Therefore the argument is praeter rem.  To the second, I say: It is false to say the Pope as the man who is pope is above Canon Law, because the mind of the Legislator of the Code of Canon law, Pope John Paul II, in canon 332 §2, expressly declares when a papal resignation is such and is to be regarded as valid.  Therefore, if a pope resigned in a way which was valid, but which the Faithful had to regard as invalid according to the norm of that Canon, there would be chaos in the Church. However, in interpreting the mind of a legislator, one cannot presume any thesis which would make the law defective. Therefore, Pope John Paul II did intend to bind the man who is pope, in a papal resignation. Therefore, the second is false also.

2. Because it is clear that Pope Benedict wanted to resign. Therefore, he did resign. Therefore, his resignation is valid.

Ad obj. 2.: To argue that the Pope wanted to resign, therefore he did resign, is to employ a sophism which conceals an undistributed middle term. For if the pope wanted to resign the ministerium of the office, then he did resign the ministerium. But such a resignation is not conform with Canon 332 §2, since it does not resign the munus. Therefore, it is invalid.  Likewise, if the pope wanted to resign the munus, then he did NOT resign the munus if he said ministerium. And then even if he thought he did, its invalid, per canon 332 §2 according to the act, and according to canon 188 on account of substantial error.

3. Because Pope Benedict, after his resignation, publicly declared that he validly resigned. Therefore, he validly resigned.

Ad obj. 3.: To argue that the Pope resigned validly because after his resignation he publicly declared that he resigned validly, is to employ a subterfuge. Because in that public declaration he declares that he resigned the Petrine ministry validly. That he resigned the Petrine ministry validly, is not disputed. But if that is what he resigned, then he did not resign the munus. Therefore, that act did not effect a resignation of the office. Therefore if it be asserted to be a valid papal resignation, the assertion is false according to canon 332 §2.

4. Because, Pope Benedict, after his resignation, publicly declared that he freely resigned, therefore he resigned.

Ad obj. 4.: It is true that liberty in a resignation is one of the necessary conditions of a papal resignation according to Canon 332 §2, but it is not true that it is the only condition. The first condition is that it be a resignation of munus. It was not. Therefore, this argument is praeter rem.

5. Because, Cardinal Sodano, as Dean of the College of Cardinals, in convoking the College, acted as if it were valid, therefore it is valid.

Ad obj. 5: There is no Canon of the Church or special delegation by the Roman Pontiff which makes the decision of the Cardinal Deacon to call a conclave efficacious of the validity of an invalid resignation, or authoritatively determinative of the validity of a resignation. Therefore, that he did so, proves nothing. Nay, canon 332 §2 expressly denies this.

6. Because the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Successor of Pope Benedict, therefore by that act declared or made the resignation valid.

Ad obj. 6.:  There is no Canon of the Church or special delegation by the Roman Pontiff which makes the decision of the College of Cardinals to conclave or elect a Pope, efficacious of the validity of an invalid resignation, or authoritatively determinative of the validity of a resignation. Therefore, that they did so, proves nothing. Nay, canon 332 §2 expressly denies this.

7. Because the whole College of Cardinals after the resignation and after the Conclave of 2013 acts and holds that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the true and valid pope.

Ad obj. 7: I reply the same as for obj. 6.

8. Because the whole world accepts that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Pope Francis.

Ad obj. 8: Canon 332 §2 in saying, “and not whether it be accepted or not by anyone whomsoever” in its final phrase, expressly denies this. Therefore, it is false.

9. Because, a Catholic must hold as Pope, whomsoever the Cardinals, or the Bishops, or the Clergy of Rome, hold to be the Pope.

Ad obj. 9.: I reply the same, as to obj. 8.

10. Because the election of a Pope by the Cardinals is a dogmatic fact, which all Catholics must accept.

Ad obj. 10.: While it be true that the valid election of a Pope by the Cardinals is a dogmatic fact which all Catholics must accept, it is not true if the election were invalid. But an election is invalid if the previous pope is still living and has not yet validly resigned. Therefore, this objection is invalid, inasmuch as the resignation be invalid. Therefore, of its self it is insufficient to prove the point argued.

11. Because the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a papal act, which cannot be questioned, according to the addage: prima sedes a nemini iudicatur.

Ad obj. 11.: While it is true that the acts of the Roman Pontiff are juridical acts which cannot be questioned, it is not true that declarations made in the first person by the man who is pope, which are the matter of such acts or declarations, cannot be judged. That such an act can be judged is proven by Canon 332 §2 which judges such acts. That such matter of the papal act is not an act of the pope as pope, has already been proven above.  —  If you say, that the act of declaration (“I declare”) is a papal act, not the act of the man, therefore it must be held to be valid, since the Pope is the supreme legislator and arbiter of the meaning of canonical acts, it must be responded that the declaration is made in the first person singular, not the first person plural, so the supreme legislator has already explicitly renounced his role in the declaration of the resignation.

12. Because, a Catholic in good conscience must presume, that if the resignation were not valid on account of the use of the word ministerium not munus in the key phrase of the act, that the Cardinals, in accord with canon 17, either demonstrated to themselves that he sufficiently resigned the papacy, or held private council with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, to know his mind and meaning, at which time he privately signified that he had resigned the papacy in resigning the ministry of the Papacy.

Ad obj. 12.: While it is true that a Catholic should be disposed to presume such, such presumption does not make an invalid resignation valid. Nay, in accord with Canon 332 §2, one must note that the final cause of an invalid resignation is that it not be manifested according to the norm of law (rite manifestastur). Which norm requires a public act, that is, an act witnessed by at least 2 witnesses and made verbally. Such an act has never been published. So even if it were made, its a secret act, and it would not make an invalid resignation, valid.

13. Because Pope Benedict said, “I declare that I renounce the ministry which I had received from the hands of the Cardinals, … so that the See of St. Peter be vacant on …”, he clearly indicated that his renunciation was to effect a loss of office (munus), therefore his resignation was in accord with Canon 332 §2, despite not explicitly using the word munus, as that Canon requires for validity. Therefore, the resignation was valid.

Ad obj. 13.: This objection was refuted in the arguments of the First Part, but its complexity deserves a fuller answer for those minds which cannot understand how it is invalid. First, as demonstrated in the First Part of this Disputed Question, a resignation is valid if it includes a resignation of munus; it is not valid if it does not. And according to Canon 17, if there is any doubt as to whether munus is included in canon 332 §2 as a sine non qua condition or according to its signification in a broader sense, one must have recourse to other parts of the Law, the canonical tradition, and to the mind of the Legislator (John Paul II) of the Code. As has been shown elsewhere, there is no basis for an argument from canon 17 that ministerium can mean munus. However, since ministerium is followed by 2 subordinate clauses, the argument that it is invalid, must respond to that condition. For in Latin, some subordinate clauses can alter the signification of the main clause. And it is true that there is a poetical form, in which part of a thing can substitute for the whole, as when at Mass in the Latin Rite we say, “Come under my roof” to mean “come into my soul”. However, as regards the Latin of the text of the renunciation, to say, “which I received from the hands of the Cardinals” imposes no necessity of reference to the Petrine Ministry per se, because Ratzinger also at that time received the Episcopal and Pastoral Ministry for the Diocese of Rome. The second clause, “so that the See of St Peter be vacant”, has been shown in Part I to necessitate no necessity. For those who do not understand Latin grammar, this needs to be explained. Because, in a subordinate clause such as “so that … be vacant”, the clause is a clause of purpose of the kind which begins with the particle “ut”, and thus is a pure clause of purpose which indicates only a goal. If the subordinate clause of purpose had begun with “in the kind of way which” (quomodo) or “in such a way as to” (in tali modo quod) it would have been a purpose clause of characteristic which has the power to alter the manner of signification in the main clause, and allow the use of metynomic signification, that is, when a part refers to the whole. Since Pope Benedict did not say anything of that kind, this way of reading the subordinate clause is not possible. Hence it remains invalid.  However, even if a metonymic signification was had, it remains invalid per canon 332 §2, since it would not be duly manifested. Because just as if one were to pronounce marriage vows by saying, “I take you to be my Viennese strudel” instead of saying “I take you to be my wife”, an interpretation would be necessary to be resorted to, to make the phrase signify taking a wife, so in an act of resignation a metonymic manner of signification renders the act invalid because it publicly does not duly manifest the intention.

14. In his act of resignation Pope Benedict XVI declared two things. The First regarding his resignation, the second regarding the convocation of a Conclave “that a Conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff be convoked by those whose duty it is”. He would not have said this, if his intention was not to resign the office of the Papacy. Therefore, he did resign the office of the papacy.

Ad obj. 14.: This argument is a conflation of two arguments, one of which has previously been refuted, viz. that one which regards his intention, which was refuted in Ad obj. 2. Here I will respond to the other, that which regards the papal command to convene a Conclave.   That the Pope declared that a conclave be convened to elect a new Roman Pontiff forms the second independent clause of his verb, “I declare”. Thus, it is logically independent and bears no necessity in the alteration of the signification of the first clause, which regards the resignation.  Thus, if the resignation not be duly manifested in accord with Canon 332 §2, that the Pope declares a Conclave be called is a papal declaration which is totally vitiated by the substantial error in his first declaration. Thus canon 188 invalidates the execution of this command. This is especially true, because in the declaration of convocation he does not require the convocation to take place before or after he ceases to be pope, or on a specific date or even during his life time. To see this more clearly, recall the example from the arguments against the validity, wherein a hypothetical pope declares, “I renounce bananas so that on Feb. 28, at 8 PM, Roman Time, the see be vacant” and simply add, “and that a Conclave be convened to elect a new Roman Pontiff”.  As can be seen in this hypothetical, the second declaration does not make the first valid, it just continues the substantial error: a substantial error which also makes the Conclave of 2013 and all the acts of Bergoglio as pope invalid.

15. Canon 332 §2 does require the resignation of office. But ministerium also means office. Therefore, when Pope Benedict renounced the ministerium, he renounced the munus.

Ad obj. 15.: Canon 332 §2 reads as follows:  If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounce his munus, there is required for its validity alone that it be freely made and manifested rite, and not that it be accepted by anyone whomsoever.  As can be seen from this Canon — which is the only one dealing with papal resignations — the fundamental condition is that the Pope resign his “munus”.  Now while some modern translations translate that as office (English), others as charge (Spanish), others as function (Italian), its clear from the Code of Canon Law that its primary canonical meaning is office. This can be seen from its use in the headings of the New Code for chapters on ecclesiastical offices. This is confirmed by a direct citation of canon 145 §1, where every ecclesiastical office is called a “munus”, not a “ministerium”.  An examination of the Code also reveals that a ministerium is never called an “office”.  Now since the Code of Canon Law requires in Canon 17, that the Code itself be read in accord with the tradition of canonical texts, the sources of canon law and the mind of its legislator (Pope John Paul II), these facts should be sufficient evidence to exclude the possibility that “ministerium” can be read as munus. This is confirmed by the comparison of Canon 332 §2 with the corresponding canon in the Code of Canon Law promulgated under Pope Benedict XV, where it speaks of a Pope renouncing, but does not say what he renounces. Its evident and significant that Pope John Paul II in the 1983 code added the word “munus” to specify what must be renounced to effect a papal resignation. Its also evident that in that Code of Canon Law “ministerium” refers to the exercise of an office. Furthermore, if one examines all previous papal resignations for which there is textual evidence of the formula of resignation, the words which signify office are always found: onus, munus. Ministerium is not found. Proper names for the office are found, such as episcopatus or papatus. Or the dignity resulting from the office is named with the words honor or dignitas. Thus, in accord with Canon 17, all the sources of authoritative interpretation conclude upon 1 result: that a Pope only resigns when he resigns the munus, the office, not the execution of the office, ministerium. Therefore, even if Pope Benedict intended, and in private afterwards asserted or asserts or will assert, that he intended to use “ministerium” for munus, his act of renunciation is invalid on account of that substantial error, in virtue of canon 188, and it cannot be made valid by any subsequent act. It would have to be redone with the word, “munus”. So the argument is invalid by a sophistry, of reading “munus” in its major according to its Latin signification, but reading “ministerium” in the minor according to its vernacular usage. Thus, its conclusion is reached through an undistributed middle term, and thus is invalid also.

16. There is no petrine ministerium without a petrine office, for the two are inseparable according to right and being [secundum ius et esse].  Therefore, although Canon 332 §2 does require that a Pope renounce his munus to validly resign, nevertheless, a renunciation of ministerium is sufficient to effect this, because though “munus” names the papal office in relation to God’s gift of grace and duty, “ministerium” names the same office according to its relation to the Church. Therefore, to renounce the petrine ministerium, is to renounce the petrine munus.

Ad. obj. 16.:  It must be said, that this argument must be responded to by interemption, for it is false in both its major and minor propositions.  In its minor, it is false in being founded upon an error of interpreting the obligations of Canon 332 §2 according to the general custom of the science of theology, and not according to the norm of law. In its major, or premise, it is furthermore false in asserting that ministerium is not separable from office according to right and being [secundum ius et esse].  — In regard to the first, one must respond thus:  For in the science of theology, words can have differing significations in respect of the same or dissimilar things. But all this is praeter rem in regard to a discussion of the canonical signification of an act of resignation of ecclesiastical office, even more so, in regard to an office established by the Incarnate Word of God. For in such a matter, the argument must turn upon the office according to its being in the Divine Will and Intention, not upon the office as it is understood according to the personal theology of the man who is Roman pontiff. This is also true in regard to the Roman Church, whose Bridegroom is not the Roman Pontiff, but Christ Jesus Himself, now reigning in Glory. For that reason, not only is She bound to give the consent of Her will to the Redeemer, but also the assent of Her mind. Therefore, one would propose a manner of observing canon law which would be tantamount to adultery, if one held that it was licit for the Roman Church to regard the signification of a canonical act after the manner of the world, the flesh, or even private interpretation. Thus, not only is Christ by His promise to Saint Peter bound by canon 332 §2, promulgated by His Vicar, Pope John Paul II, to not withdraw the grace and office [munus] unless it be explicitly renounced, so also the Roman Church, which is His most faithful virgin Bride and virgin Spouse. Therefore, the Church must regard the obligations of canon 332 §2 as requiring a renunciation of munus, inasmuch as canon 17 requires that term to be understood in canon 145 §1. Nowhere in the Code of Canon law is a ministerium regarded as the office itself. So even if it was the intention of the author of Non Solum Propter, inasmuch as he was man, to signify the Papal Office in its relation to the service it renders, it does not by that fact alone become an act which the Church can accept as rite manifestatum, for an interpretation would have to be resorted to, and a reading of the text, outside the rules of signification of the Code of Canon law would have to be employed. And as such, it would not be canonically valid, even if one could sustain that it was theologically sufficient. Nevertheless, even if one were to grant that the words ministerium …. commissum spoke of the munus petrinum in its relation to the Church, since nothing is renounced but what is explicitly renounced, the act would effect nothing more canonically speaking than a renunciation of the office inasmuch as it is in such a relation, not of the office itself. And thus it would not be efficacious to renounce nor sufficient to signify the renunciation of the office in its relation to God and His gift of grace. But since this very relation refers to it according to its principle of being [secundum essendi principium] – for it is a gift immediately from Christ and established by an act of His will – such a renunciation does not effect what is essential to it. The act remains, therefore, vitiated by substantial error in its manner of signification, and thus is invalid ipso iure, by canon 188. — Finally, in regard to the premise of the argument, namely, that ministerium is not separable from office secundum ius et esse, it must be said that this is falsified by liturgical and canonical law. For since the suppression of minor orders, the state of the acolyte and lector are termed “ministries” [Canon 230 §1], yet such ministries confer no right to exercise such service at any time, but only the suitability to do so at the request of the celebrant of a liturgical act. Therefore, ministeria are separable in right and being from munus. — Thus, in conclusion, it appears obvious that the entire argument is false, since a conclusion which is drawn from a false premise and a false minor is entirely falsified.

17. The peaceful and universal acceptance of a Pope is caused by and is the effect of a valid papal election. Therefore, since 6 years have passed, even if the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI were invalid, his de facto silence at the usurpation of the Papal Office by Bergoglio is tantamount to a resignation. Therefore, whether the resignation was invalid or not, it now must be regarded as valid.

Ad obj. 17.:  Though, in common law, possession is nine tenths of right, and thus, usurpation can lead to acquisition of right; and though in Roman Law usucapione can obtain legal right to property after a long time, such a principle is not valid for two reasons. First, it is not valid theologically in regard to an ecclesiastical office which was established by Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, by an immediate personal act. Of which kind is the office of Pope. The theological reason is this: that no one can snatch anything out of the Hand of the Living God (John 10:28). And thus, no usurpation of the papal office can constrain the Godhead, Who is Infinite Justice and Omnipotence Himself, to transfer the grace of the Papal munus to another.  To hold otherwise, would be a theological impossibility and absurdity. — Second, it is not valid canonically, on account of Canon 359, which specifies that the College of Cardinals has authority to elect a Roman Pontiff only during a sede vacante.  Therefore, if the resignation of Pope Benedict XVi was invalid, there was no sede vacante, and therefore the College had no authority to elect a successor.  — As for tacit acquiescence: it is clear from Church History, that against the claims of an Anti-Pope no rightful claimant of the Apostolic See was considered to have relented merely for not prosecuting his right. Moreover, the argument of tacit acquiescence, however, has no application in the case under dispute, because that one acts on substantial error does not constitute tacit acquiescence, since tacit acquiescence requires the capacity of consent, a thing which is impossible through invincible ignorance in the case of substantial error. — Finally, as regards the universal and peaceful acceptance of a papal election: while this principle is certainly a valid reflex principle for troubled consciences in the case of a valid election, there is no possibility of a valid election when the College had no right to act, for it is contrary not only to Canon Law but to Divine Law to elect another Roman Pontiff while the Pope still lives and has not validly resigned. It is also not valid, as regards its implicit minor: namely, that there has been a peaceful and universal acceptance of the Papal resignation. There has not, as the preface to this disputed question demonstrates. Hence, the application of this reflex principle to the present case is at best praeter rem, and worse a subterfuge.

18. Benedict’s renunciation of ministerium validly effects a resignation of office, because, on account of Canon 10, which expressly says only those conditions of invalidity cause an act to be invalid, since canon 332 §2 speaks of invalidity only regard to liberty from coercion and due manifestation, not the naming of the office, since it was Benedict’s intention to name the papal office, as is evident from his accepting the title of Pope Emeritus, the naming of the ministerium instead of munus does not make the act of renunciation invalid. Furthermore, Benedict as pope is the supreme legislator, therefore he officially interprets the law (cf. Canon 16 §1), therefore he is able to resign the Petrine munus by resigning the Petrine miniserium.

Ad obj. 18.: While it is true that canon 332 §2 speaks of invalidity only in regard to the conditions of the act, nevertheless canon 188 speaks expressly of invalidity of resignations which are vitiated by a substantial error. Now, there is no more substantial of an error in resigning an ecclesiastical office, than to resign an accident of it or its second act of being (ministerium) and believe that in doing so one sufficiency signifies the office (munus). Furthermore, Canon 18 requires that the terms of canon 332 §2 be understood strictly, since the latter canon restricts the one who is renouncing. Therefore, the renunciation must explicitly regard the munus of the papal office, which in that canon and in canon 749 §1, like all episcopal offices (cf. Paul VI, Christus Dominus) in the entire Code, is referred to exclusively as a munus, because it is not merely an ecclesiastical office (officium) or service (ministerium) established by custom or the Church, but is a gift of grace and office (munus) established by the Living God by an immediate Personal Act (cf. Matthew 16:18 ff).  That each such office (munus) can exercise one or more ministeria is not only NOT an argument for the validity of Benedict’s resignation, but nay rather an argument against the validity, on account of canon 188, canon 17 and canon 41 (in the Latin), the latter of which expressly associates ministerium with the mere execution of an ecclesiastical office; and this, because the execution of an office or its services can be renounced by the infirm, who still wishes to retain the dignity of the office, as the history of the Church demonstrates. Thus, in virtue of canon 17, which explicitly requires that the texts of each Canon be understood according to the proper meaning of the words they contain as the context of the Code of Canon Law uses them, the argument drawn from canon 10, here, is invalid because it is praeter rem, that is, applicable only to the conditions of invalidity in canon 332 §2, not canon 188. — If you say, yes, Canon 10 applies only to the terms of validity expressed in Canon 332 §2 and thus allows a broad interpretation of the conditional clause which speaks of a resignation of the petrine munus: then it must be responded, that such a reading of canon 10 would nullify the requirements of canon 17, that terms must be understood properly, or at least fails from insufficiency, since the broad meaning of munus in the Code of Canon Law is officium not ministerium; which sense of officium refers to office, not execution of a ministry. — Regarding Canon 16 §1, it must be said, that yes, Pope Benedict as Pope is the supreme legislator and interpreter of canon law. But he is only legislator, when he legislates; whereas Canon 332 §2 was legislated by Pope John Paul II. Furthermore, though any Pope can officially interpret Canon Law, he must do so by a papal act, not by a substantial error. Thus, canon 16 does not apply in such a case. Nay, rather, Canon 38 expressly rules in this case, when it says: An administrative act, even if it be enacted by a rescript given Motu Proprio, lacks effect to the extent that it harms the rights of another or is contrary to the law or proven custom, unless the competent authority expressly has added a derogating clause. — Finally, as regards the Pope’s manifest intention to resign the papal munus, I have responded to this above in the reply to objections 2, 3 and 4.

19. As Dr. Taylor Marshall sustains on his video, “The Resignation of Pope Benedict: an Analysis”, “ministerium” and “munus” name the same thing: the papal office, therefore to renounce the one is to renounce the other. Therefore, the resignation is valid.

Ad obj. 19.: To a gratuitous assertion, no reply need be made, because it is not an argument. However, against this assertion, one must respond, since it attacks the very nature of reality itself.  For words have meaning, otherwise they would not be signs of communication. And different words can have different meaning, or there would be no reason to use them. Thus human language of necessity sustains the assertion that ministerium and munus can have different significations.  Any dictionary of Latin also sustains this, as anyone can demonstrate who has one. But that ministerium and munus in Canon Law mean the same thing, is entirely false, as has been demonstrated above by referring, in accord with the requirements of canon 17, to the Code itself which in canon 41 associates “ministerium” with the mere exercise of office, and canon 145 §1 which defines an ecclesiastical office as a “munus,” not a ministerium.  Thus, the Code of Canon Law itself uses the terms in different senses, and do not equate their significations as referring to an ecclesiastical office, in the sense that “bishopric” or “papacy” refer to an office. — This is a sufficient refutation according to the norm of Canon Law. But since the assertion conceals a grave error of the kind of Nominalism promoted at Tübingen, it merits to be refuted according to the science of philosophy. For just as there are 10 categories of being according to the Philosopher in his Praedicamenta, so words can be said in reference to one or more category of being. Now in canon 145 §1, the Supreme Legislator predicates munus of every ecclesiastical office. But no where in the Code does he predicate ministerium of any ecclesiastical office, only of roles or services rendered by one who holds an office or in his stead.  Therefore it is clear from canon 17 that this represents in the mind of the Legislator that munus signifies the being of something real, namely an office, but ministerium signifies the action or service rendered by one who holds such an office. Therefore, munus is said to be a substance itself, and ministerium is said of a substance in act. But this is the distinction of being and act, of substance and accident, according to the Praedicamenta.  Therefore, there is a real distinction between munus and ministerium, in the senses used in Canon 332 §2, 145 §1 and canon 41, just as there is a real distinction between any agent and the actions of the agent, though the latter inheres in the former. If this be denied, then the walking of Peter, which in Peter is Peter, when imitated perfectly by Paul would be just as much Peter in Paul as Peter in Peter, which is absurd.  Therefore, the walking of Peter in Peter is not a substance but an accident, like the color of Peter’s skin or the accent of his voice, which can be duplicated in other things, without making them Peter.  Likewise, the Petrine ministry, which is the action or service which the one who holds the Petrine Office should and can render, can be perfectly imitated in another, without making that other the Pope. This is the entire basis for the Roman Curia’s collaboration with every true Pope, when He delegates the execution of some part of his Petrine Munus to Cardinals and Bishops and priests at the Vatican or elsewhere. Therefore, to name the Petrine munus it does not suffice to name the Petrine Ministry (even if it be conceded that Benedict did this, which I have shown is not the case in the arguments of the first part), because just as when Peter renounces his walking, he remains Peter, so when the Pope renounces his ministry, he remains the pope. The semiotic rationale or ratio significandi for this is, that just as substance and accident are separable, so their unity is not necessary; therefore, the signification of the one which is the accident in the other signs no necessary or determinative reference to the one which is the substance. Therefore, in accord with canon 332 §2, which requires a manifestation of liberty and intention which is accord with the norm of law, such a manner of signification is invalid, because it requires an interpretation which the Law does not sustain as possible in accord with canon 17.


The Vatican Coup d’Etat of Feb. 2013


December 18, 2018 — A silent secret Coup d’Etat occured at the Vatican nearly 6 years ago, the facts of which case have only recently come to light.  The leading figures in the takeover were Cardinals Sodano and Bergoglio.  Sodano, the former, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, charged with calling a Conclave in the event of the death or valid resignation of the Roman Pontiff; the Latter, the head of the Saint Gallen Mafia, which had plotted since 2004 to take over the Church and transform the Catholic Religion into a hollow mockery of the Gospel.

The coup d’etat was put in motion by the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign from active ministry on February, 11th, which he announced to the world in the Latin text, “Non solum propter”. (For the original text and English translation, see here).  The carefully worded text, based on the distinction put forward by Karl Rahner in 1974, in his work, Vorfragen zu einem okumenischen Amtsverstandnis, that one could retain the munus petrinum and share the ministerium petrinum, renounced the latter and explicitly affirmed the holding of the former.

This very obscure distinction in the Latin text allowed a coup d’etat, that is an unlawful take over of the Vatican. Because, according to the norm of Canon Law, the Cardinal Deacon was NOT empowered by the act of resignation to call a Conclave. Nay, he was obliged to confer with his Holiness as to the nature of the Vicar he wanted to appoint to govern the Vatican in his retirement, and ask direction on how the institution of the College of Cardinals could accomplish this, since the rules of a Conclave only regard the election of a successor not a Vicar sharing the active ministry.

No sooner had Pope Benedict XVI read his text, that Cardinal Sodano began to play up the event, by saying out-loud in Italian: “‘Holiness, this news catches us like a lightning bolt in a clear blue sky.’” (source)

Then the Italian journalist, Giovanna Chirri, a pool reporter for the Italian News Cooperative, ANSA, after attempting to speak with Cardinal Sodano by phone, following the consistory, and receiving the go ahead from Fr. Lombardi, ran the fake news story that the Pope had resigned his office.  She went to far in later reports to claim that she understands Latin perfectly, and that the renunciation was unequivocal!

Amazingly, Chirri announced this “news” via Twitter! Here is the historic tweet, upon which the entire Catholic world bases its idea that Benedict resigned the papacy!

However, the full responsibility and liability for the decision to call a Conclave to elect another Pope — during the lifetime of a Pope who only retired from active ministry, but did not resign his office — must be laid at the feet of Cardinal Sodano. That he was urged to this by the Saint Gallen Mafia may be supposed, but the evidence from the Law of the Church is indisputable.  As Canon 332 §2 reads in its official form, which in Latin — a Latin in which Cardinal Sodano is fluent, says:

CANON 332 § 2. Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur.

The law of the Church is clear: a pope resigns when he resigns his Munus (muneri suo renuntiet). And the validity of such a resignation arises from the act itself when it is conform with the norm of law (rite manifestetur) and is free.

The crime of Sodano consists in the pretense he made, based on the common translations of that Canon into modern languages, that you could renounce the office of the papacy without renouncing the petrine munus.

Obviously, canonically speaking, its impossible to demonstrate that a renunciation of ministerium is a due and proper manifestation of a renunciation of munus according to the norm of law, when the law itself says that papal resignations regard only the munus.*

Cardinal Sodano was of an age in which he could not vote in any further Conclaves, but by summoning a Conclave to elect another pope AND omitting a conference with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, he set in motion a revolution which resulted in Jorge Mario Bergoglio seizing control of the Vatican government and presenting himself to the world as the Vicar of Christ.

How many of the Cardinals who attended the Conclave of 2013 raised questions about this is not yet publicly known. However, its not a question of any form of secrecy to which they were or are bound, since if any of them noticed the sleight of hand of Sodano, he would have spoken about it before the Conclave began.

Today it is evident to the whole Catholic world that Bergoglio is an Anti-Pope in the sense that he has not the Faith of the Church and daily attacks the Faith. May God grant that Catholics everywhere read the Latin text of Canon 332 §2 to see that a renunciation of active ministry does not renounce the papal office, and that therefore the Conclave of 2013 was illicity convened and uncanonical, and that Bergoglio was never the Pope, never the Bishop of Rome, never the Successor of Saint Peter.



For further reading, I recommend:  How and Why the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013 is invalid by the law itself.

* Can. 17 — Leges ecclesiasticae intellegendae sunt secundum propriam verborum significationem in textu et contextu consideratam; quae si dubia et obscura manserit, ad locos parallelos, si qui sint, ad legis finem ac circumstantias et ad mentem legislatoris est recurrendum.

Cardinal Sodano was obliged, by this canon, in the matter of any doubt concerning whether the act of Benedict XVI was valid per canon 322 §2, to look in the Code itself for the usage of ministerium and munus. However, in the Code there is no equation of these two terms. Not finding one, he would be obliged to look at the canonical history of the term munus in papal resignations, in which in previous resignations the word munus, not ministerium, has always been used. So he had no grounds to call a Conclave. (cf. Dos graves razones, by Juan Suárez Falcó, and Fr. Stefano Violi, The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience)


Literal English Translation of Benedict XVI’s Discourse on Feb. 11, 2013 A. D.


By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

There being few in the Church today who know the Latin tongue well enough to read and analyze a canonical text, I offer here my own translation of the discourse which Pope Benedict gave during the Consistory of Feb. 11, 2013 A. D..  You can find modern translations of this discourse at the Vatican Website, with notable errors and seemingly purposeful misrepresentations.  Compare my own with theirs, if you like, to know which words have been altered in the vernacular versions.

– – – –

Declaration of Pope Benedict XVI, Feb. 11, 2013 A. D.

Not only for the three canonizations have I called you to this Consistory, but also so that I may communicate to you a decision of great moment for the life of the Church. Having explored my conscience again and again before the Lord, I have arrived at certain recognition that with my advancing age my strengths are no longer apt for equitably administering the Petrine Office [munus Petrinum].

I am well aware that this office [munus], according to its spiritual essence, ought to be exercised not only by acting and speaking, but no less than by suffering and praying.  Moreover, in the world of our time, subjected to rapid changes and perturbed by questions of great weight for the life of faith, there is more necessary to steer the Barque of Saint Peter and to announce the Gospel a certain vigor, which in recent months has lessened in me in such a manner, that I should acknowledge my incapacity to administer well the ministry [ministerium] committed to me.  On which account, well aware of the weightiness of this act, I declare in full liberty, that I renounce the ministry [ministerio] of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, committed to me through the hands of the Cardinals on April 19, 2005, so that on February 28, 2013, at 20:00 Roman Time [Sedes Romae], the see of Saint Peter be vacant, and that a Conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff be convoked by those whose duty it is [ab quibus competit].

Dearest brothers, I thank you with my whole heart for every love and work, by which you bore with me the weight of my ministry [ministerii], and I ask pardon for all my failings.  Moreover, now We confide God’s Holy Church to the care of Her Most High Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and We implore His Mother, Mary, to assist with Her maternal goodness the Cardinal fathers in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.  In my own regard, I wish to serve in the future by a life of prayer dedicated to the Holy Church with my whole heart.

[From the halls of the Vatican, Feb. 10, 2013]


Translator’s Commentary

As can be seen from Ganswein’s talk at the Pontifical Gregorian University in May of 2016, and from the other comments made by Benedict XVI afterwards, this text regards the resignation of ministry, not office. If one were to say it effects the resignation of office, he would be in substantial error, as I have demonstrated elsewhere.

Unlike Archbishop Ganswein, when he spoke at the Pontifical Gregorian University in May of 2016,  I translate munus as office, following not only all the Latin Dictionaries which I have at my disposal, but the Latin text of Canon 145, which defines every office in the Church as a munus. See also, Pope Paul VI’s decree, Christus Dominus, which uses the same term for office.

I translate vacet as the main verb of a subordinate subjunctive clause of purpose, introduced by ita ut, “so that”. Those who opine that such a form of vaco, vacare can be translated as could be vacant know nothing about Latin and how as a Classical tongue it lacks the conditional mood. (Cf. my Ecclesiastical Latin Grammar, for an explanation on how to translate the subjunctive mood in Latin, into English).

Having spoken with one of the most eminent Latinists who has worked at the Vatican, I note that the Sedes Romae refers to the time Zone, and is not an appositive to Sedes Sancti Petri. Note there are 2 things declared:  that I renounce... and that a Conclave be convoked….  Note also, that in the original text the commisso in the phrase, “committed to me through the hands of the Cardinals” was erroneously written and spoken as commissum.  (Cfr. Pope Gregory XIII’s 1582 edition of the Decretales Gregorii IX. Book. I, Tittle III, de Rescriptis, c. XI.)

Finally, if you find any typographical errors, let me know. as I understand there are some out there who hate the truth so much, that if they find one, they believe the rest of a text by a translator is of no value.


The Validity of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation must be questioned — Part I


by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Recently, the noted Vatican theologian, and former member of the Congregation for the Faith, Msgr. Nichola Bux publicly opined that the validity of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI should be studied in regard to the question of what appears to be substantial error in the formula of resignation. (For a correct English translation of the formula, see here).

Msgr. Bux was not the first to raise this issue. In fact, doubts as to the validity of the act of resignation were raised immediately upon the news being made known. Flavien Blanchon, a French journalist working at Rome, writing only 2 days afterwards, cited an eminent Latin scholar who pointed out errors in the text of abdication, and who noted that the presence of any error, according to canonical tradition, was held to be a sign of lack of deliberation, rendering the act null and void. These errors in the Latin were also reported by Luciano Canfora, Corriere della Serra, Feb. 12, 2013, p. 17.

More importantly, the famous Italian Philosopher, Prof. Enrico Radaelli wrote a supplication to Pope Benedict XVI, on Feb. 18, begging him to withdraw the resignation, because, inasmuch as it was done in a secular fashion, it would result in the consequent election of an Anti-Pope. His article was entitled: Perché Papa Ratzinger-Benedetto XVI dovrebbe ritirare le sue dimissioni: non è ancora tempo per un nuovo papa, perché sarebbe quello di un Anti-Papa. (Link to text with commentary, here). Which warning, alas, was ignored, even by myself at the time, for frivolous reasons.

Then a year later, the famous Italian controversialist, Antonio Socci openly speculated that the resignation might be invalid on account of the lack of interior will given by Benedict. In the same year, a very noteworthy study published by a Professor in canon law at the Theological Institute of Legano, Switzerland, in 2014 by Fr. Stefano Violi, which discussed canonically the renunciation: The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience, without, however, raising the question of its invalidity. (Its a must read on account of its rich citation to the canonical history of papal resignations, despite its glaring error of affirming that a novel way of resigning was fulling in accord with Tradition!) — However, the study by the professor of Canon Law at the Faculty of Theology, Lugano, Switzerland, by identifying the matter of the renunciation to regard the active ministry, not the munus, made it clear that the question of substantial error invalidating the resignation was a real question, founded upon the text of the act itself.

On Nov. 14, 2014, in a public conference, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, “the Fatima Priest” of Canada, affirmed of Pope Benedict, on Feb 11, 2013, that “whatever he was doing, he was not resigning the papacy”.

However, on June 19, 2016, the USA citizen Ann Barnhardt raised specifically the question of a doubt arising from canon 188, which cites substantial error as sufficient grounds to establish the grounds for a canonical determination of invalidity in any resignation. She did this following the remarkable comments by Pope Benedict’s personal Secretary on May 20th earlier, in which he claimed that Benedict still occupied the Papal Office (Full Text, English Translation).

Barnhard was not the first to make such an observation. Dr. Cathy Caridi, JCL, a canonist, openly speculated in January of 2013, more than a month before Pope Benedict XVI acted, that a substantial error in a papal renunciation could in fact invalidate it in virtue of Canon 188.

Then the blogger, Sarmaticus, discussed the issue raised by Ganswein’s words on August 5, 2016, with a post drawing out the significance of what the Archbishop had said at the Gregorian University, in a post entitled: “Ockham’s Razor Finds: Benedict Still Pope, Francis Is False Pope, Universal Church in State of Necessity since 24 April, 2005.”

Msgr. Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas, in the United States, and a former member of Opus Dei, has also sustained this same doubt and others regarding the validity of the resignation. I understand that the Bishop has written many members of the Sacred Hierarchy and Curia about these matters urging action be taken (He suggests a public declaration by 12 pre-Bergoglian Cardinals).

According to Ann Barnhart, in the following year, the Americans, Attorney Chris Ferrara and Mrs. Anne Kreitzer also sustained this same doubt. The Italian historian Richard Cowden Guido opined the same on May 11, 2017. And, the famous Italian controversialist, Antonio Socci quoted Violi at length on May 31, 2017 and sustained the same thesis.

On August 11, 2017, the popular Catholic TV program from Colombia, founded by Dr. Galat and know as Cafe con Galat, in an English edition, discussed why Pope Benedict XVI is still the true pope. While this program emphasizes the lack of freedom in the act, it does include the matter regarding the lack of conformity to Canon 332 §2 and canon 188.

Sometime before March of this year, Fr. Paul Kramer, a priest from the United States of America sustained also that canon 188 nullified the resignation, on account of the lack of the resignations conformity to canon 332 §2 in mentioning ministerium rather than munus.

In May of this year, at the latest, the Spaniard Fr. Juan Juarez Falcon expounded the canonical reason for the invalidity of the resignation, on the basis of substantial error, in an article entitled, “Dos Graves Razones”Dr. José Alberto Villasana Munguía followed from Mexico on June 27th, concurring with his opinion.

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI in his private letters to Cardinal Brandmueller, published in the summer of 2018, openly asks for suggestions for a better way to resign, if he did not do it correctly.

There being a number of notable Catholics sustaining this doubt, and since Msgr. Bux called for an investigation of this matter, I will add here in Scholastic Form, some arguments in favor of sustaining it, in course of which I will refute all substantial arguments against it. In the course of time, as I find other arguments, or think of new ones, I will add them to this list.

All the arguments for and against should be understood in context of canon 124 §1, which reads: For the validity of a juridic act it is required that the act is placed by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act.

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.

And Canon 322 §2: If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his munus, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and be properly manifested (rite manifestatur), but not that it be accepted by anyone at all.

Its also important to note, for native speakers of German, that the German translation of the Code of Canon Law gives the erroneous translation of munus as Dienst in canon 145 §1, where munus if it be translated at all, should be rendered Verantwortung, which is a proper synonym of the Latin munus, as an onus. Moreover, the correct sense of munus in canon 332 §2 is “office, charge and gift of grace” (Amt, Verantwortung, Geschenk der Gnade), not ministry or service (dienst), for only this full sense of munus, as an officium, onus, donum reflects the magisterial teaching of Pope Boniface VIII in his rescript, Quoniam.


Whether Pope Benedict XVI by means of the act expressed in his address, “Non solum propter”, resigned the office of the Bishop of Rome?

And it seems that he did not:

1. First, because substantial error, in an act of resignation, regards the vis verborum, or signification of the words, as they regard the form and matter of the act.  But the act of renouncing a ministry regards one of the proper accidents of the office [cf. canon 41] by which that ministry can be rightfully exercised.  Therefore, if one renounces a ministry, he does not renounce the office. And if he believes to have renounced the office, by renouncing one of the ministries, he is in substantial error as to the signification of the words he has used. But in the text, Non Solum Propter, Benedict XVI renounces the ministerium which he received as Bishop of Rome, when he was elected.  Therefore, to understand that act as a renunciation of the office is to be in substantial error as to the effect of the act. Therefore as per canon 188, the resignation is invalid.

2. Saint Peter the Apostle exercised many ministries in many places. But no one is the real successor of Saint Peter except the Bishop of Rome (canon 331). If one renounces a petrine ministry, therefore, he does not renounce the office of Bishopric of Rome (cf. canons 331 & 332), who has other ministries in virtue of his office. Therefore, if one believes he has renounced the Bishopric of Rome by renouncing a petrine ministry, he is in substantial error, and thus as per canon 188, the resignation is invalid.

3. According to Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 12) there are diverse graces, ministries and offices in the Church, inasmuch as the Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, since the Bishop of Rome can exercise several of these ministries, it follows that one does not renounce the Bishopric of Rome if one renounces one of these ministries, since no one ministry is coextensive with the Bishopric of Rome. Ergo in such a renunciation, if one believes he has sufficiently signified the renunciation of the Bishopric of Rome, he is in substantial error. Therefore, as per canon 188, the resignation is invalid.

4. According to Seneca (Moral Essays, vol. 3, John W. Basore, Heineman, 1935), one must distinguish between benefices, offices and ministries. Benefices are that which are given by an alien, offices by sons, mothers and others with necessary relationships, and ministries by servants who do what superiors do not do.  The Petrine ministry is a service to the Church. But the office of the Bishop of Rome is a duty to Christ. If one renounces the ministry of a servant, he does not renounce the office of a son. Ergo in such a renunciation etc…

5. The validity of an act of resignation cannot be founded upon the subjective definition of words, or the mere intention of the one renouncing. If that were the case, the interpretation would make the act an act of resignation. The act itself would not declare it. But the Church is a public society founded by the Incarnate Living God. Therefore, the renunciation of offices must be not only intentional but public, to give witness to the fact that the office was established by the Living and Incarnate God. But the office of the Bishop of Rome is such an office. Ergo in such a renunciation etc..

6. As Msgr. Henry Gracida argues on his blog, If Christ did not accept the resignation of Benedict as valid, because the act itself was not canonically valid per canon 188, then Christ would be obliged in justice to deprive Bergoglio of grace, so that his lack of being pope be MOST EVIDENT to all with Faith, Hope and Charity. But it is MOST EVIDENT to everyone, even non Catholics, that he has NOT the grace of God in him or in his actions. Ergo, either Christ is unjust, or Christ is just. He cannot be unjust. Ergo, Bergoglio is not pope! But the Cardinals hold that his election was in accord with the procedures required by the Papal Law on Elections. Therefore, if he is not the pope, it can only be because someone else is still the Pope. Therefore, Benedict is still the pope, because in a resignation of this kind, the substantial error of renouncing the ministry, rather than the munus, renders it invalid.

7. Likewise, Christ prayed for Peter that his faith might not fail, and so that he could confirm his brethren in the Apostolic College. Now this prayer of Christ must be efficacious, since Christ is God and the Beloved Son of the Eternal Father, and because of the office of Saint Peter is not something merely useful to the Body of Christ, but necessary in matters of faith and unity. Therefore, Christ’s prayer for the Successors of Saint Peter must be efficacious in some manner as regards the faith and unity of the Church. But Bergoglio manifestly attacks both the faith and unity of the Church. Far be it, therefore, to judge that in this one man Christ’s prayer was not intended to be effective. Ergo, Bergoglio is not a valid successor of Saint Peter! But the Cardinals hold that his election was in accord with the procedures required by the Papal Law on Elections. Therefore, if he is not the pope, it can only be because someone else is still the Pope. Therefore, Benedict is still the pope, because in a resignation of this kind, the substantial error of renouncing the ministry, rather than the munus, renders it invalid.

8. From the text of the act of resignation. Pope Benedict admits in the first sentence that he holds the munus petrinum. But further down, he says he renounces the ministerium which he had received as Bishop of Rome. Therefore, he has not renounced the munus. But munus means office and gift of grace (cf. Canon 145 §1 and Paul VI, Christus Dominus). Therefore, he has not stated that he has renounced the office and gift of grace. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..

9.From the sense of the Latin tongue, which lacks the definite and indefinite article. When you say: Renuntio ministerio, you do not say whether you have renounced the ministry or a ministry. Therefore, you leave unsaid what ministry you have renounced. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..

10.From the papal law Universi Dominici Gregis, on Papal elections:  One is not elected to the Petrine Ministry, but to be the Bishop of Rome.  Therefore, unless one renounce the Bishopric of Rome one has not vacated the See of Saint Peter. But in public statements Pope Benedict XVI after March 2013 says only that he has renounced the ministerium. Therefore, he is in substantial habitual error as regards what is required in an act of resignation of the office of the Bishopric of Rome.  Therefore, in such a resignation etc..

11. From the Code of Canon Law:  Canonical resignations are valid if 3 things are valid: liberty from coercion, right intention, unambiguous signification. This is confirmed in canon 332, § 2 which expressly denies that the acceptance of a resignation affects is validity or non-validity. But Pope Benedict admits in his letters to Cardinal Brandmueller that his intent was to retain something of the Pontifical Dignity. His private secretary also publicly has affirmed that he occupies the  See of Peter but shares the Petrine Ministry still. This is incontrovertible evidence that the act of resignation is ambiguous. For either it means he has renounced the See or has not renounced the See, that he has renounced the ministry, or has not renounced the ministry.  Therefore, in such a resignation etc..

12. From Pneumetology, that is, from the theology of the Holy Spirit. After Feb 2013 the whole Church still recognizes and accepts Pope Benedict with the title of pope and with papal prerogatives. All call him Benedict, not Ratzinger or Joseph (even Bergoglio, during his visit to Panama in January 2019, exhorted the crowds to wave to “Pope Benedict XVI”.) But the whole Church cannot be deceived. Nevertheless, according to Divine Institution, the Papacy cannot be held by more than one person at one time. And he who holds it first, has the valid claim to the office. Therefore, the Church does not understand the act as one which renounces the office. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..

13. From insufficiency of intention:  If a Pope renounces eating bananas, he has not renounced the office of Bishopric of Rome. Therefore, if he says, “I have renounced eating bananas, to vacate the See of Rome”, he is in substantial error as to the effect of his act.  But in his text of renunciation he says he has renounced the ministry so as to vacate the see of Saint Peter [ut sedes Sancti Petri vacet]. But that is a substantial error, since the ministry is only a proper accident of the Bishopric of Rome, for to be the Bishop of Rome is the first act of its being [esse primum], to exercise the ministries of the Bishopric of Rome is the second act of its being [esse secundum]. Therefore, since the second act of being is in potency to the first act, and potency is divided from act as accident to substance, to renounce a or all ministries of an office is an act regarding the accidents not the substance of the office. Therefore, one could just as well renounce any or all of its ministries and retain the office. Therefore, by renouncing a or the ministry he does not renounce the office. Indeed, in public statements, he explicitly affirms only to have renounced the ministry. Therefore, his insufficiency of expressed intention does not save the act from substantial error.  Therefore, in such a renunciation etc..

14. The Pope is not more powerful than God the Son. But God the Son in becoming the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, at the moment of Consecration, renounces all the accidents and action of His Sacred Humanity, yet remains still God and Man.  Hence, even if a Pope were to renounce all his actions and ministries as Pope, he remains the Pope. But Pope Benedict XVI in his declaration of Feb. 11, 2013, renounces only the ministerium of his office, not the office. Therefore, he remains the Pope.

15. If you get up from your chair, but to not give the chair to another, the chair becomes vacant but remains your property.  Now the office of St. Peter’s Successor is to Saint Peter’s Successor as a throne is to the one enthroned. So if a Pope renounces the ministry of his office, but not the office, even if he intends by such a renunciation that the Throne of St. Peter be vacant, he does not cede his right and holding of the office. So when Pope Benedict writes declaro me ministerio … renuntiare ita ut Sedes Petri vacet its clear that while he renounces serving as Pope, he does not renounce the Papacy.

16. If any President, Prime Minister or father of a family renounces fulfilling the duties of his office, he nevertheless has not ceased to be President, Prime Minister or father. Likewise with the Pope, if he textually renounces only the ministry of his office, he has not lost his office.

17. God, who is Being, as the institutor of the Office of Peter, cannot regard as resigned from the office of the Successor of Saint Peter, any Roman Pontiff, validly elected, who only renounces accidents or second acts of the being of that office. But Pope Benedict XVI renounced only the ministerium, or exercise of the office, which he had received, not the munus, which is the office itself [cf. Canons 332 §2 and 749 §1]. Therefore, since the exercise of office is the second act of the being of the office, God cannot acknowledge such a resignation as valid. And if God does not recognize it as valid, neither can the Church. Therefore, in such a resignation, etc..

18. The essence of ‘being the Pope’ is the dignity of the office held. The essence of a ministry is the service rendered. Therefore, just as renunciation of a service does not cause the loss of dignity, so the renunciation of the Petrine Ministry does not cause the loss of Papal office.   Therefore, in such a resignation, etc..

19. In Canon Law ministerium is not the locus of right (ius), that is found only in sacraments (sacramenta) and offices (munera).  Therefore, he who renounces ministerium, renounces no right. But Pope Benedict XVI in his renunciation, Non solum propter, renounces the ministerium he received from the hands of the Cardinals. Therefore, he does not renounce any right. And if he renounces no right, he retains all rights, and thus remains the Pope.  If it be objected, that he renounced the ministerium so as to vacate the See of St. Peter (ita ut Sedes S Petri vacet), it must be responded that, since vacare, in Latin has 2 senses: that of conceding right and that of simply going away, as on a vacation, the assertion of renouncing ministerium so as to vacet the Roman See implies no necessity of signifying a renunciation of right.  Therefore, in such a resignation etc..

20. As the learned canonists Juan Juárez Falcó argues:  Canon 332 which is the only canon regarding Papal renunciations speaks of the renunciation of the munus, not of the ministerium. But Benedict XVI speaks only of renouncing the ministerium, not the munus. Ergo per canon 188, the renunciation is invalid to effect a renunciation of munus. But as per canon 145, the munus is the office. Therefore, in such a resignation, etc..

For the arguments, to the Contrary, and their refutations, see part II.

In summation:

As the eminent Canon Lawyer, Fr. Juan Ignacio Arrieta, says, commenting on Canon 126:  When the ignorance or error regards the essential object of the act, … then the act must be considered as never having been posited, invalid. (Codice di Diritto Canonico, e Leggi Complementari: Commentato, Coletti a San Pietro, 2004, commentary on canon 126).

Hence, it appears, that if a Pope were to intend to retire from active ministry, but retain the Papal Office in all its fullness, that he could just as well read out loud the statement made by Pope Benedict XVI, Non solum propter, since the vis verborum of that text is that he renounced the ministry of the office of the Bishop of Rome, but not the office. Herein lies the substantial error, and thus that act of Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013 must be judged to be invalid, as per canon 188, if it be asserted to be an act of resignation of the office of Bishop of Rome. However, if one were to assert that it is only the act of renunciation of active ministry, not of office, then yes, it should be said to be a valid act, containing no substantial error.

In Conclusion, Philosophical Reason

Though there can be many kinds of substantial error in an act of resignation, there is NONE more SUBSTANTIAL than the one which involves confusing the accidents of the office to be resigned as sufficient terms to signify the substance of the office itself. Now, according to canon 188, where substantial error is present in such an act, the act is invalid in its effect “by the law itself”. Therefore, the text of Non solum propter, of Benedict XVI does not effect validly his resignation from the office of the Bishopric of Rome.

In Conclusion, Canonical Reason

This is corroborated by undisputed facts of law, namely that the only Canon in the Code of Canon Law, Canon 322 §2, which speaks expressly of a papal resignation, requires that the man who is pope resign the munus and do so rite (i.e. properly according to the norms of law). But the text of Benedict’s resignation speaks only of a renunciation of ministerium.  Therefore, since it regards an act wholly outside the meaning of Canon 332 §2, the act is invalid to effect a Papal resignation. It is also thus invalid to effect the same by the law itself, according to Canon 188, and by canon 126.

Indeed, the inherent separability of ministerium from munus in Ecclesiastical history and canonical tradition is the fundamental reason why no renunciation of ministerium can be equated in law as a due manifestation of the resignation of an office. For that reason, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI made through the act, Non solum propter, of February 11, 2013 A.D., has no valid canonical effect regarding the office of the Papacy. He remains the Pope, therefore, with all rights and privileges.

On which account, as a baptized Roman Catholic, Italian Citizen and legal resident of the City of Rome, I call upon the Italian Government to invoke its right, as a party to the Lateran Pact and its subsequent agreements, to convene the entire Clergy of the Diocese of Rome, to judge in tribunal, just as they did in A. D. 1046 at Sutri, at the command of the Germany King Henry III, the validity of the claim to office of Popes Benedict and Francis, namely, whether the act of renunciation of Benedict XVI was valid as to a renunciation of office, and if not, to declare the Conclave of 2013 canonically invalid ex radicibus.


Bergoglio was a pertinacious public heretic years before the 2013 Conclave

As the prophecy given by Zacharia gives in Chapter 11:16-17:

For behold I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not visit what is forsaken, nor seek what is scattered, nor heal what is broken, nor nourish that which standeth, and he shall eat the flesh of the fat ones, and break their hoofs. [17] O shepherd, and idol, that forsaketh the flock: the sword upon his arm and upon his right eye: his arm shall quite wither away, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened!

Swiss bishops confirm existence of St. Gallen ‘mafia’

Cardinal Bergoglio takes the oath of conclave, March 11, 2015, with Cardinal Daneels standing behind him.
Cardinal Bergoglio takes the oath of conclave, March 11, 2015, with Cardinal Daneels standing behind him.

The From Rome blog has covered the “Team Bergoglio” voting scandal during the 2013 Conclave from the beginning.  In this, one of our last and culminating reports which verifies all the facti species, the Swiss Bishop’s Conference confirms the existence of the 20 yr conspiracy, not only operative in the Conclave of 2005, but also in 2013. For the entire timeline of reports, see here.

Reblogged in part from Litesite news (original here)

September 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — While correcting local media reports, the Swiss bishops today confirmed the existence of the so-called “mafia” of bishops that aimed to counter the influence of Cardinal Ratzinger during the pontificate of John Paul II.

The confirmation came amid intense discussion in Switzerland about the question of the now well-known group of cardinals, called the “St. Gallen Group,” about which Cardinal Godfried Danneels recently made some disturbing, even embarrassing revelations.

This morning, the local radio station FM1 Today in Sankt Gallen, Switerland, reported on the alleged secret meetings of this “St. Gallen Group” that supposedly worked both on making Pope Benedict XVI resign and on getting Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio then elected for the Papal office. As sources for their claims, the radio station cited a new biography about Bishop Danneels, as well as a candid public statement that the cardinal himself made.  Summing up their claims about this seeming conspiracy, the radio station said:

(See original for full text)

The culminating substance of this final report from Life Site News, is that all the evidence points to this, that a homosexual-heretical cabal violated the Papal law against vote-promising and put into power Jorge Mario Bergoglio with express purpose of overthrowing the Catholic Faith on sexual morals and establishing a new false religion, posing as the Catholic Church.

What should you do about this? — Demand that the Catholic Cardinals act and denounce this cabal, for the sake of their own immortal souls and the good of the whole Church, and investigate and determine the validity of the election of 2013.

The election of Cardinal Bergoglio was a supreme failure of the College of Cardinals

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio takes the vow of secrecy at opening of the 2013 Conclave (BBC, screenshote by From Rome blog, cropped)
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio takes the vow of secrecy at opening of the 2013 Conclave (BBC, screenshote by From Rome blog, cropped)

Rome, March 13, 2015:  Two years ago, this afternoon, the College of Cardinals elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Roman Pontiff.

A Failure in Law

I will omit, here, a long repetition of that which I have blogged about for 3 1/2 months, namely, that there are very grave and probative reasons and facts regarding the validity of that election, and this for 3 reasons:

  1. Cardinal Bergoglio was elected on the 5th ballot in the afternoon, in violation of the Papal Law, Universi Dominici Gregis, which allows only 4 ballots per day.  The facts were the subject of Antontio Socci’s bestselling book, Non è Francesco, and the crucial arguments were discussed here.  The facts have never been denied, the reasonings in law for the validity, require a rewriting of 2 sections of the papal law; the reasonings against the validity require no change in the law. That makes the argument against the validity more probable both in law and in testimony.
  2. Cardinal Bergoglio’s candidacy was promoted by a violation of UGD 81, which forbids any and all agreements among Cardinal electors as to whom they are going to vote for, such as any campaigning or promises of votes which is consequent upon canvassing for votes.  The facts were presented by various sources, but summarized and brought to clear relief by Dr. Austen Ivereigh, in his book, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, specifically in chapter 9 of the same, where he names the conspirators, “Team Bergoglio”.  The blog you are reading, From Rome, has made it the point to cover this story from the beginning; you can read all about it in our Chronology of Reports on “Team Bergoglio”.  The consequences of the violation are the invalidation of the election, and this in virtue of the Code of Canon law.  See the discussion here. Note that today Vatican Radio reports that Pope has himself confirmed that he was elected by a 2/3 majority (here), which puts validity in gravest doubt.
  3. Cardinal Bergoglio before his nomination to Cardinal, and after, was notorious for giving communion to those in public sin and for instructing others to do the same.  The allegations are confirmed by Sandro Magister. The consequence is that in virtue of the Papal Law, Cum ex apostolatus officio, of Pope Paul IV, he could not validly be elected Roman Pontiff.  This argument is explained in the petition to the College of Cardinals. The validity in law of the Papal Law of Paul IV, has been discussed here and here.

A Failure in Prudence

But, moreso, the election of Cardinal Bergoglio by the College was a supreme failure of human prudence.  Because, it is not prudent to elect quickly and without reflection someone who merely claims to be in favor of solving problems.  One must look to his life and deeds, and that requires reflection.  It is obvious to everyone in the Church, that if you spoke with Jorge Mario Bergoglio for 15 minutes, you could easily detect that he is not suitable for the office — that is, if you have any supernatural prudence at all, a prudence founded on an immaculate faith and resolute virtue.

I pity the man whom the Church’s Cardinals and Bishops regard as the Pope: it was a horrible sin against fraternal charity to promote to the office of Pope, a man whose entire career, from all accounts, has been obsessed with having and holding on to power.  If any of the Cardinals had any question, in conclave, they could have certainly spoken to Cardinal Sandri, who was well acquainted with Cardinal Bergoglio’s failings.

I really do not see how the College of Cardinals was so possessed to elect such a man.  But I feared that they had lost all sense, when during the general congregations for the Conclave, on March 7, the Cardinal Dean read out a message of condolence for the death of the dictator of Venezuela.*

It seems, from the continued silence of the College to so many scandals which have occurred on account of their choice, that that sense, after March 13, 2013, has not yet returned.


* Disturbing, too, was the fact that the first twitter user to recognize the newly elected Cardinal by face, that afternoon, was a male-prostitute.

Cardinal McCarrick confesses that he was lobbied to support Cardinal Bergoglio

Rome, February 25, 2015:  Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, on October 11, 2013, during a speech given at Villanova University, in the United States, confessed that he was lobbied to support Cardinal Bergoglio.  Start watching from 18:20…


The Cardinal very smoothly avoids saying that he heeded the advice given, and that he spoke to favor Cardinal Bergoglio’s candidacy, but his words and admissions betray him.

The events recounted by the Cardinal took place, according to him, while he was in Rome at the beginning of the General Congregations for the 2013 Conclave.  The lobbying effort was significantly exposed by Dr. Austen Ivereigh in November, in his book, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.

[HT to our friend from Chicago, for this tip]


Francis became Pope thanks to Belgian Cardinal Danneels

Cardinal Godfried Danneels was a part of Team Bergoglio, a group of cardinals that got the Argentine elected as pope in 2013 :  a new biography about pope Francis claims. — “If that is true, the election might be invalid,” says Vatican expert Tom Zwaenepoel.

by Michaël Temmerman of —  (English transl.; original Flemish article: source)*

Godfried Cardinal Danneels, retired Archbishop of Brussels, Belgium & Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Anastasia al Palatino
Godfried Cardinal Danneels, retired Archbishop of Brussels, Belgium & Cardinal-Priest of Sant’Anastasia al Palatino

If it’s a short conclave, Bergoglio will be elected pope. You can be sure of that.” Those words were whispered by the British cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor just before the start of the 2013 conclave. He was talking to Austin Ivereigh, his spokesman at that time. Those words are now repeated in The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, a recently published biography about pope Francis written by that same Austin Ivereigh. The author of the book claims that those words prove the existence of Team Bergoglio, a group of five cardinals who would have canvassed for votes in favor of the Argentine. “And the Belgian cardinal Danneels was among those five cardinals,” says Vatican expert Tom Zwaenepoel. “He is mentioned seven times in the book.”

Conspiracy theory

According to the book, the team not only lobbied for Bergoglio in 2013 but also in 2005. “I suppose some of it is true. But how much?” says Zwaenepoel. “Propagandizing and recruiting votes for a specific candidate are illegal and would make the election invalid.  But there’s a big difference between lobbying for someone and expressing sympathy for a certain candidate in an informal talk. According to the book Bergoglio knew about the lobbying in 2013 and would even have given his permission for it. But those statements are being retracted from the newer versions of the biography. Because they aren’t true or because the Vatican pressured the author to do so? We will probably never know for sure.”

Less than two days after the book hit the shops, the Vatican already stated that the accusations were all lies. Toon Osaer, spokesman of cardinal Danneels, also doesn’t believe in a conspiracy theory. “If you see how glad Danneels was after the conclave, you can be sure that Francis was his favorite candidate. But that doesn’t mean there was some sort of a master-plan to help the Argentine to the papal seat. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the cardinal didn’t canvass for votes for Bergoglio in the days and weeks before the conclave.”


The Flemish original was published on Jan. 6, 2015, p.  10, by Nieuwsblad, a Belgian newspaper in Antwerp. — Note that Belgian copyright law extends to this English translation (done for the From Rome blog), neither of which can be reproduced for commercial ends. — Michaël Temmerman is a staff reporter for the Nieuwsblad.

Who tallied votes for “Team Bergoglio”?

German cardinals Walter Kasper, Reinhard Marx and Italian Severino Poletto arrive at the Paul VI hall for the opening of the Cardinals' Congregations on March 4, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by  Franco Origlia | Getty Images Europe — Cropped Screen Shot)
German cardinals Walter Kasper, Reinhard Marx and Italian Severino Poletto arrive at the Paul VI hall for the opening of the Cardinals’ Congregations on March 4, 2013 at the Vatican. (Photo by Franco Origlia, Getty Images Europe — Cropped Screen Shot, not for commercial use)

Rome, January 11, 2015:  Dr. Austen Ivereigh, the author of The Great Reformer:  Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope recently reminded the world that the Conclave of 2013 contains many secrets of which the world has yet to know.  One of the more intriguing mysteries to which he refers to in the ninth chapter of his book, where he describes in detail the organized effort to solicit and obtain the promises of votes for Cardinal Bergoglio — which this blog has shown is a formal violation of the papal law on Conclaves, punished by automatic excommunication for those Cardinal electors promising them, and by the Code of Canon Law, c. 1329 for those soliciting them — is the identity, as yet not revealed, of the aged Italian Cardinal who kept a tally of the votes.

Who this is, is unknown. And one can only make inferences on published facts, inferences which have not much probity.

Since Cardinals attended the open sessions of the Conclave in 2013 at the same time in which from Dr. Ivereigh’s account it appears “Team Bergoglio” was actively soliciting support for Cardinal Bergoglio, it can be presupposed that their closest collaborators were those who were the men most frequently in their company, and in whose company they feared not to be photographed. This conjectural probability is valid in anthropology or sociology, but not in forensics.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the one aged Italian Cardinal, in whose company one of the leading alleged members of “Team Bergoglio” was seen in that period — according to the photo record — was Cardinal Severino Poletti, retired Archbishop of Turino, Italy, and Cardinal-Priest of San Giuseppe in via Trionfale.

Seen also in the photograph above is Cardinal Marx, one of the more prominent supporters of the theological and pastoral proposals of Cardinal Kasper, rejected by the majority of Bishops at the recent Extra-ordinary Synod on the Family, in October.

For a complete Chronology of reports on the “Team Bergoglio” allegations, from around the world, including our own, see our Chronology of Reports on “Team Bergoglio”.

Antonio Socci speaks on “Team Bergoglio” scandal

Antonio Socci
Antonio Socci

Rome — Dec. 21, 2014:  Antonio Socci, noted Italian journalist and author of the book, Non è Francesco (a best-seller in Italy, which details the events and facts which he believes invalidate the renunciation made by Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Cardinal Bergoglio), spoke about the “Team Bergoglio” scandal in an editorial published today in the Italian newspaper, Libero (republished on his FaceBook page; reprinted on his blog, Lo Straniero, i. e. The Outsider).

Here is our unofficial English translation of the first part of that blog-post, entitled, Abbattere tutti i muri? Va bene, Papa Bergoglio, cominciamo a spazzar via il “Muro di Silenzio” della Sistina, facendo emergere la verità sul Conclave….  A full translation in the German Language is available from Kirche & Realitat!

_ _ _

Tearing down walls? Ok, Pope Bergoglio: let’s begin to do away with the “Wall of Silence” in the Sistine Chapel, to reveal the truth of the Conclave

Dec. 21:  It was Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, thirty years ago, who proposed the abolition of the secrecy of the Conclave, by which the Cardinal-princes are obliged under oath regarding the election which takes place in the Sistine Chapel.  He proposed this because that norm — far from standing guard over the sacred — risked (and risks) becoming a cover for profane things (the Cardinal adjoined, then, in the ’80’s, that one should pray very much for the Conclaves of the future so that no external influence of any sect might intervene therein).

It is paradoxical that a proposal so innovative and democratic would be advanced by a prelate who was considered to be the leader of the “Conservatives”.  And that in the 30 years since no prelate, considered to be “progressive”, has taken it up and made it his own.


Today, if Pope Bergoglio were to take it up, that is, abolish the secrecy, he’d have the ability to demonstrate with deeds how much he is truly desirous of transparency and openness in the life of the Church, by liberating Her from obsolete prohibitions.

Will the Pope who has come to be hailed as “revolutionary”, be less an innovator than a “conservative” Cardinal? Will he wish to bolster the “wall of the Sistine Chapel”, after having asked the entire world to tear down all walls (in Cuba and elsewhere)?

Besides, Pope Bergoglio is sounding out every day against those modern “scribes and pharisees” who want to mummify all the old rules and old laws and prohibitions, by opposing change, transparency and openness to the world.

Let’s see if his words are followed with deeds, at least in regard to these norms which are entirely capable of modification, because they are ecclesiastical laws (while not even a Pope could modify the matters discussed in the recent Synod, because they pertain to the Word of God; though they were put into discussion by the Modernist faction).

One feels particularly the necessity of knocking down this “Sistine wall” — and this with urgency — above all in regard to the Conclave of 2013, concerning which rumors and questions grow daily instead of passing away.


As the case, which has broken out in England, shows — and from there it has leaped to America and Italy — in regard to the revelations of Austen Ivereigh in his book, “The Great Reformer”.

The book, a biography about Bergoglio, in an entirely positive light as regards the Argentine pope, contains some lines which skin him alive.  One has to remember that Ivereigh is not the last man to arrive at the party, he was the spokesman for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and has held positions of trust in Catholic Media in England.

He, thus, speaks of the existence of a “Team Bergoglio”, made up, precisely, of Cardinals Murphy-O’Connor, Kasper, Danneels and Lehmann to promote the Argentine prelate to the papacy.  The work, which is to have begun after the renunciation of Benedict XVI, would have had the consent of Bergoglio himself.  A canonical case arises from this, because there are those who have sustained that all of this might put into doubt the validity of the election on March 13th.  There have followed polemics, precisions and denials which have co-involved even Fr. Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman.

In my opinion, the facts cited in the book by the Englishman do not put into discussion, per se, the legitimacy of the election.

Nevertheless, they cause to be revealed that there is something of a battle which was engaged in behind the 5 ballots in the 2013 Conclave (from the renunciation of Benedict to the election of Bergoglio) and who were the protagonists of that.

But it makes one recall a similar controversy which broke out.  Perhaps this is only the tip of an iceberg? Are there any other secrets? Among the various rumors and speculations, for example, remains the as-of-yet unexplained delay of Pope Bergoglio’s salute from the Loggia of St. Peter’s.


In the other half of the essay (not translated here), Socci speaks of other anomalies in the 2013 Conclave and the non-reaction to his book.

Socci’s entire piece was republished by Libero’s blog, on Dec. 22, 2014.

For a complete Chronology of reports and videos regarding the “Team Bergoglio” scandal, see click here. That the allegations of Ivereigh are substantial and have grave canonical consequences has been explained here, here and here and here.

The improbity of Team Bergoglio’s Recent Denials

Feast of Santa Lucia, Rome, Dec. 13, 2014:  The crux of the scandal surrounding “Team Bergoglio” — Dr. Austen Ivereigh’s nickname for the group of Cardinals who canvassed for votes on behalf of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio before and during the Conclave of 2013 — is, without doubt, the curious denials of the testimony Ivereigh gives in his book, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.

These curious denials are what sparked the interest of the Catholic world.  And their inconsistencies have fueled, not quieted, the speculation, since they are widely seen not as transparent statements, but as politically motivated misinformation.

The From Rome blog, however, mindful of the duty of objectivity, in all of its reporting regarding “Team Bergoglio” has taken as an a priori presumption, that neither Dr. Ivereigh nor those alleged to be part of “Team Bergoglio” are not telling the truth.  For that reason, to round out our coverage, the From Rome blog will now put to scrutiny what these denials say and do not say, so as to weigh their probity.

The denial of Ivereigh given by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor

DenialThe first official denial of Dr. Ivereigh’s narrative came from Maggie Doherty, the spokeswoman for the retired Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster, England:  his Eminence Msgr. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.  That denial, published in the form of a letter to the editor of the Monday Daily Telegraph, on November 25, 2014, can be seen to the right (Note that the Telegraph’s editors have added the lead-title, “Papal plot”).

As the From Rome blog demonstrated yesterday, the most probable reason for the denial, as given, was to specifically negate the allegation of Dr. Ivereigh’s book, on p. 355, which said that the members of “Team Bergoglio”, first of all, sought the agreement of Cardinal Bergoglio to their vote-canvassing campaign.

This is because in  Catholic Church law (Codex iuris canonicis of 1983),  canon 1329 extends punishment for all acts criminalized with excommunication, to all accomplices of those acts, without which the criminalized act or acts could not be accomplished.

Consenting to a vote-canvassing campaign on one’s behalf is the most culpable act which an accomplice can make in it, since without such consent, the campaigners would never have reasonably considered to have undertaken such a campaign.

Canvassing for votes is specifically criminalized by the Papal Law, Universi Dominici Gregis, (here after UDG), of Pope John Paul II, published in 1996, as this blog has explained in detail in its article, “The Great Reformer”.

The improbity of the First Denial

Improbity refers to the inability of a person or testimony to be considered honest.  Of itself, what has improbity is not necessarily false, but in its totality it remains improbable, or, more precisely, aims to affirm what is improbable.  What has improbity is not untrue under every aspect, it can merely be an exaggeration or misleading or misdirecting.

Let’s, presume, as stated, that the letter by Maggie Doherty is true in everything it says. We know from Dr. Ivereigh’s twitter feed, that he regards the statement of Maggie Doherty as emanating from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. In our previous report, Ivereigh + UDG 81 = A Radical Problem for the Pope, the From Rome blog speculated on the form and occasion and method of this denial. Now, let us consider it from another point of view: what it says and does not say, and whether the Cardinal could reasonably be considered to have given a testimony which has forensic value.

First of all, one must recognize that in denying the narrative presented in Dr. Ivereigh’s book there are several great problems: the first of which is that Dr. Ivereigh is the former personal secretary to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, and if Ivereigh knew anything about the campaign in 2013, the public will presume that he had all this information either from the Cardinal or had it as confirmed by the Cardinal.  So in a sense, the Cardinal will appear to many to be denying himself.

Second, one can only give testimony to what one has seen or heard or did.

Third, one denies only what one denies. And when accused of many things, all which has not been denied, is implicitly or tacitly affirmed.

So, let’s examine the text of the Cardinal’s denial.  In the first sentence, he states that he is not denying what Ivereigh wrote, only aiming at dispelling any misunderstanding that might arise from reading Dr. Ivereigh’s book.  This initial statement greatly weakens the Cardinal’s statement: in a word, he denies nothing of the narrative presented, neither as regards names mentioned or as regards the chronology of events or the acts participated in.  He does not even deny the conversation which Dr. Ivereigh attributes to him, in asking Cardinal Bergoglio for his consent to the campaign.

In the second sentence he denies that he, or as far as he knows the other Cardinals, made any approach to Cardinal Bergoglio to seek his assent as a candidate.  In this statement, the opposite error occurs, for unlike the first in which he denies nothing and concedes all, in this statement he denies too much.  It would have been sufficient to deny with greater precision, but to deny that Cardinal Bergoglio was never asked by any Cardinal regarding his willingness to serve is beyond belief. And since “assent” regards an act of the mind, “consent” to that of the will, and since it is consent that makes one an accomplice, the Cardinal may be saying that he did not seek Cardinal Bergoglio’s assent, but did seek his consent.

Finally, the Cardinal can only deny what he knows: hence, since he cannot possibly know everything which every other of the named Cardinals did or said, his denial in that regard has no forensic value, except to exculpate himself in a conspiracy with Cardinals regarding seeking such a consent.  He has not denied that bishops, priests, deacons, laymen or religious or even journalists were used as intermediaries to obtain such consent.

What is the truth? Until the Cardinal is questioned by journalists or fellow Cardinals in consistory, we may never know.  But it appears from the second sentence that the Cardinal has affirmed that the campaign was a vote-canvassing / vote-promissing endeavor, because in denying too much in the second sentence, he implicitly affirms Ivereigh’s allegation as to the nature of the campaign.

For these reasons, assuming everything the Cardinal said is true, then one seems constrained to conclude that the Cardinal has denied nothing, but confirmed everything. And this is where the improbity arises, because a denial should deny specifics and the totality of an accusation.  One can understand, however, that the Cardinal, being a man of God from his earliest days, would never deny what was true, directly speaking, for that would be dishonest.

The denial given by the Four Cardinals through Fr. Lombardi

On December 1, 2014, with growing interest in the story regarding “Team Bergoglio”, the blog, Il Sismografo publishes in Italian, P. Lombardi su presunti comportamenti di alcuni cardinali nell’ultimo Conclave, which contained Fr. Lombardi’s statement on the affair.  Our English translation read as follows (1st the editors preface, then Lombardi):

In view of what is circulating regarding the recent Conclave, we asked Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office.  Here is Fr. Lombardi’s response:

In a book recently published about Pope Francis, written by Austen Ivereigh in English with the title, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope (Henry Holy & Co.), and in Italian as, Tempo di misericordia. Vita di Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Mondadori), there is affirmed that in the days preceding the Conclave, four Cardinals:  Murphy O’Connor, Kasper, Daneels e Lehmann, “first secured Bergoglio’s assent” to his eventual election, and “then they got to work” with a campaign to promote his election.

I can declare that all of the four Cardinals, just named, explicitly deny this description of the facts, both as much as regards the request of prior consent on the part of Cardinal Bergoglio, and as much as regards the conduction of a campaign for his election, and (that) they desire to be known that they are stupefied and opposed to what has been published.

The improbity of the Second Denial

In the first part of Fr. Frederico Lombardi’s official denial, he casts a net about too little: because he denies only the activity of 4 Cardinals, when, as this blog has shown, the text itself names 7 and 2 other suspected accomplices, and implicates as many as 30 in the crimes of vote-asking / vote-promising.  Therefore, his statement must be understood, authentically, of not regarding the activities of these others Cardinals, nor of any intermediaries they might have used, nor any other details of Ivereigh’s account.

In the second part of Fr. Lombardi’s statement, too little and too much is denied.  Too little, because, as this blog has shown, it is not a crime to seek the consent of a candidate to be a candidate. Nor is it a crime to profess willingness to be a candidate.  But it is a crime to conduct a vote-canvassing campaign to promote a candidate (this is a violation of UDG 81), and it is a punishable offense to give consent to such a campaign on one’s own behalf, with knowledge that the campaign has this nature.  Too much, because it is not a crime to conduct a campaign on behalf of another Cardinal.  Since the 4 Cardinals, through Fr. Lombardi, have not denied that it was a vote-canvassing campaign, they implicitly have affirmed it.  Since they have not denied that Cardinal Bergoglio gave his consent, they implicitly also affirm that. They have not denied that they were accomplices, only that they were leaders conducting it. They have not denied that they promised votes or solicited the promise of votes.

Furthermore, Cardinal Bergoglio did not have to be asked to give his consent; it is sufficient that he gave it spontaneously, willingly and with knowledge of the nature of the campaign, which nature and its existence none of the Cardinals have denied.

For this reason, this second denial also has great improbity, because it has the form of a denial, but when reasonable interpreted according to the above stated method, it can be considered to be a confession.  For, when accused, the accused must rebut the nature of the crime and the acts committed, if he disputes one or the other or both.

In conclusion, it appears from both denials, that these four of the seven members alleged to be part of “Team Bergoglio” are in fact affirming all which is necessary to indict Cardinal Bergoglio for the crime of being an accomplice in the vote-canvassing campaign. They also leave open the possibility that Cardinal Bergoglio, himself, was the ringleader or initiator, though no one has accused Pope Francis of this.

The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope

As many as 30 Cardinals implicated in Vote-Canvassing Scandal

Per una traduzione Italiana

December 9, 2014:  Now, in the midst of the scandalous affair of “Team Bergoglio”, when the Catholic world is aghast at not only the allegations made by Dr. Austen Ivereigh in his new book, The Great Reformer, but also at the inconsistencies in and contradictions of the denials of his allegations, which denials have issued from the most authoritative sources: the official spokeswoman for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and the Pope’s spokesman, Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S. J., it will be most useful to scrutinize the testimony given by Dr. Ivereigh in his book.

The From Rome blog, having obtained a hard-copy of the American edition of the book, it can now do so; but so as to clarify the legal implications and the probity of testimony, let us proceed in a forensic manner. This will require, that we first consider the acts criminalized, the confession by the head of the conspiracy, and the corroborating evidence which supports the probity of what we shall study from Dr. Ivereigh’s book.

The Papal Decree which criminalizes Vote-Canvassing

In the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1996, there is forbidden under pain of automatic excommunication (i.e. immediately imposed, without necessity of declaration) the canvassing for votes.  The crime is described there thus in the official and original Latin text:

81. Cardinales electores praeterea abstineant ab omnibus pactionibus, conventionibus, promissionibus aliisque quibusvis obligationibus, quibus astringi possint ad suffragium cuidam vel quibusdam dandum aut recusandum.

And, according to From Rome‘s more precise English translation of the official Latin text:

81. Let the Cardinal electors, moreover, abstain from all pacts, agreements, promises and any other obligations you like, by which they might be constrained to give or refuse support (suffragium) for anyone (sing. & plural). 

To understand this prohibition, let us note that Pope John Paul II was personally very scandalized by the shenanigans which marked the conclave in which he himself was elected.  To obstruct this in the future, he established a penalty for that most common form of human prudence in elections, vote-canvassing: this is because, as one can see in the papal law, UDG, he insists that the Cardinal Electors proceed in a religious manner and after much prayer to select the man most pleasing to almighty God and useful for the Church in the present hour (cf. the paragraphs which precede and follow, n. 81).

Thus, the Latin text, by which Pope John Paul II describes the activities to be forbidden, contains very important words: the first is all, the next describe the activities pactionibus, conventionibus, promissionibus (pacts, agreements, promises), but the last throw a net around all kinds of human activity by which there is any moral obligation arising:  aliisque quibusvis obligationibus (and any other obligations you like).

Thus, let us consider the moral act of urging the election of a prospective candidate:  First, one must have some confidence that the Candidate is suitable & willing (# 1: the agreement & pact); then, that one must recruit those willing to assist in canvassing (agreement & pact) in such wise that they also pledge support (# 2: promise & pact).  The members of the vote-canvassing team, then, communicate by word or signs with prospective electors to present the reasons why the said candidate merits the electors support or vote (proposal of an agreement); and obtain some word or sign of agreement (# 3: agreement & promise or obligation) that he is worth of the electors’ votes.  Each of these three steps is criminalized by the Papal Law.  Since the Law does not exclude, but rather includes, all kinds of obligations, those which are grave, such as under a vow, or those which are light — which are signaled, for example, by even the wink of the eye — all are forbidden.

Note that since the Papal law is wide in what it forbids, not only is it a crime to promise a vote, it is a crime to join in a conspiracy to canvass for such votes, since this is tantamount to promising to vote for one candidate and not vote for other candidates. However, note that the papal law only penalizes voting Cardinals.  Cardinals too old to vote, are not thus penalized, though they are collaborating in the solicitation of votes.

Once one has canvassed for votes, one has knowledge that the said candidate will achieve such and such in the first ballots, and confidence that he will be successful or not in that. This allows one to tally the votes promised.

The Confession of the Crime

That Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, confessed to having such confidence, was reported by the Catholic Herald on Sept. 12, 2013; in that same report he admits that Cardinal Bergoglio knew that he was being put forth as a candidate prior to the initiation of the Conclave.  He also admits that after the Conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio personally recognized the English Cardinal’s leadership in the campaign for getting him elected. In the said interview, the English Cardinal confesses both knowledge and confidence, which could not have been had, reasonably, except by means of vote-canvassing in the strict sense of the term.

The Corroboratory Testimony & Evidence

Note that the mere fact that “Team Bergoglio”‘s self-confessed and papally-recognized leader was Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, an aged Cardinal who was NOT an elector, argues for the awareness by other members of “Team Bergoglio” of the existence of the penalty imposed in UDG 81.  Also, from the testimony given by Dr. Austen Ivereigh, in his BBC appearance on March 12, 2013, at 17:03 PM, we know that Ivereigh and Murphy-O’Connor met beforehand to discuss the affairs of the Conclave; and that Ivereigh knew of the penalties imposed by UGD 81.  Since in recent days, Ivereigh has shown himself unaware of the implications of UDG 81, it can be further suspected that in March of 2013, he had this knowledge of UDG 81 from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor.

The Narrative of the Conspiracy, according to Ivereigh

I strongly suggest you get a copy of Ivereigh’s book, because the testimony it contains will be of momentous historical worth for years to come. Let us now consider that evidence.

From the Chapter entitled, “Conclave” (Chapter 9, pp. 349-367), we have these allegations:

“The had learned their lesson from 2005”, top of p. 355 — Argues for motive and foreknowledge of necessity of making a strong showing for Cardinal Bergoglio in the first vote: but this cannot be accomplished without a vote-canvassing campaign, nor can it succeed unless the forbidden and criminalized activities are engaged in.

“They first secured his assent. Asked if he was willing, he said that he believed that at this time of crisis for the Church no cardinal could refuse if asked.” (ibid.) — This Jesuitical response is what you would expect from a Cardinal-Jesuit; nevertheless, such a statement is morally equivalent to a sign of will giving consent, and in the context of a proposal to launch a campaign, it is also morally equivalent to a pact.  This is an excommunicatable offense given the context of the offer of a campaign. A conscientious man, observant of the law of the conclave, would have added a sign that he repudiated an organized campaign, if only out of charity for the campaigners, who would thereby fall foul of the papal law.

The probity of what Ivereigh has just alleged, is very high, because no one initiates a campaign without the consent of the candidate; it would be to accuse “Team Bergoglio” of insanity, to hold that they did not ask for a sign to indicate his willingness.  And it is more uncharitable to accuse a sane Cardinal of madness, than of a worldly Cardinal of reasonable prudence.

Then Ivereigh includes in parenthesis, a citation which appears to be lifted from Cardinal-Murphy-O’Connor’s testimony to the Catholic Herald last year.  But the mere fact that these words are in parentheses, preserves the probity of the narrative from claims of hearsay evidence.

“Then they got to work touring the cardinals’ dinners to promote their man…” (ibid.) — This has been confirmed, in the case of Cardinals Murphy-O’Connor and Cardinal O’Malley, in the Wall Street Journal report from August 6, 2013.  Dr. Ivereigh’s recent denials, do not deny this activity, which he, in retraction, characterizes now as “urging” Bergoglio as a candidate.

“… Their objective was to secure at least twenty-five votes for Bergoglio on the first ballot.  An ancient Italian cardinal kept the tally of how many votes they could rely on before the conclave started.” — This statement which has never been denied or repudiated on point, confirms the charge of a violation of UDG 81, without any wiggle-room, because you cannot tally votes, unless votes have been promised, and if they are promised, then the ones asking have sought them, and both parties have entered into some kind of obligation or pact or agreement to vote for a particular candidate in the first ballot, while not voting for all other candidates.

There you have it, a formal, explicit allegation of a formal explicit violation of UDG 81.

Dr. Ivereigh then speaks of the confidence they had regarding the 19 Cardinals from Latin America, and then adds:

“The Spanish cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of St. Mary Major in Rome and a former nuncio in Latin America, was vigorous in canvassing on Bergoglio’s behalf among the Iberian Iberian bloc.” (ibid.)— This allegation has never been denied by anyone, not even the Spanish Cardinal.

Ivereigh then names other Cardinal collaborators:  Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna and Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris.

He also names other Cardinals in suchwise as appears they participated in promising votes:  Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa and Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Finally, on p. 356-357, Dr. Ivereigh confirms this reading of the testimony he gives, by writing:

For this reason, and because the organizers of his campaign stayed carefully below the radar, the Bergoglio bandwagon that began to roll during the week of the congregations went undetected by the media, and to this day most vaticanisti believe there / was no organized pre-conclave effort to get Bergoglio elected.

Dr. Ivereigh then confirms this statement, that there was an organized campaign, with footnote 10, which reads:

In his Francis: Pope of a New Word (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2013), ch. 3, the leading Vatican commentator Andrea Tornielli says that there were no “campaigns organized in advance” of the conclave for Bergoglio.  There was one.

Numerous Cardinals are implicated

Though, heretofore, there have been publicly implicated 4 Cardinals:  Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, Danneels of Belgium, Kasper and Lehmann of Germany; the text of Ivereigh has named 3 others as team members: Schonborn of Vienna, Vingt-Trois of Paris and Santos Abril y Castello of St. Mary Major.

A total of 7 Cardinals in the team.

Two other Cardinals as suspect of promising votes, named explicitly: Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa,  and Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

But also, enormously, all the Cardinals of Spain and Latin America as potentially promising votes! That’s more than 20 others! — Not to count the African Cardinals.

In total, perhaps as many as 30 Cardinals, all participated: those who were electors, excommunicated even unto this day! *


More astounding is that key parts of this narrative have not, as of today, been denied by any of or all of the participants. The only facts denied are that the Four Cardinals asked Cardinal Bergoglio for his consent to the vote-campaign, and the narrative presented by Dr. Ivereigh regarding them. Nothing has been denied by the others, and some alteration of the chronology of the timeline presented, might in fact be what is being implicitly affirmed by Lombardi’s denial.  The facts denied however are the those which the evidence presented above shows to have great probity.



* Though, if any did not vote for Bergoglio in the first round of votes, one might argue that they did not oblige themselves.


For a complete list of our coverage on Team Bergoglio and a list of reports from major news outlets the world over on it, see here.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Conner admits Pope Francis recognized his leadership of “Team Bergoglio”

Catholic Herald, Sept 12, 2014: Online edition (Screen Shot by From Rome blog)
Catholic Herald, Sept 12, 2014: Online edition (Screen Shot by From Rome blog)

Dec. 6, 2014: In a letter to the editor of the Monday edition of the Telegraph, Nov. 25th last, the former Cardinal of Westminster strongly denied that he had asked Cardinal Bergoglio to assent to a vote-lobbying campaign in his favor and the involvement of Cardinals in that effort, known as “Team Bergoglio”.

But, in a stunning revelation, published by Miguel Cullen in the Catholic Herald, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, and entitled,  Pope sent greetings to the Queen straight after his election, says cardinal, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor had already contradicted his own denial, when he confessed to being the ring-leader of what Dr. Ivereigh nick-named, “Team Bergoglio”, and admited that Pope Francis recognized this, just 2 days after the conclusion of the Conclave in 2013.

The key passages of that report read:

The cardinal also disclosed that he had spoken to the future Pope as they left the Missa pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, the final Mass before the conclave began on March 12.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said: “We talked a little bit. I told him he had my prayers and said, in Italian: ‘Be careful.’ I was hinting, and he realised and said: ‘Si – capisco’ – yes, I understand. He was calm. He was aware that he was probably going to be a candidate going in. Did I know he was going to be Pope? No. There were other good candidates. But I knew he would be one of the leading ones.”

The admissions of the Cardinal in that report blow a hole in the hull of the denial, issued by Maggie Doherty, his spokeswoman, just 2 weeks ago, whereby he denied involvement and denied Cardinal Bergoglio knew about the vote-canvassing.

That Pope Francis knew about the Cardinal’s leadership in “Team Bergoglio” is admitted by the Cardinal in the same report, where it says:

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said: “All the cardinals had a meeting with him in the Hall of Benedictions, two days after his election. We all went up one by one. He greeted me very warmly. He said something like: ‘It’s your fault. What have you done to me?’ 

For a time-line of reports about “Team Bergoglio” from sources round the world, as well as by this blog, see here.