Father John Zuhlsdorf, who is known on the Net simply as, “Father Z”, from his famous blog by the same name, did something the other day which only a handful of Catholic priests have dared to do in the last 8 years: he spoke publicly about the controversy over the “resignation” of Pope Benedict XVI.
I know at least 4 priests who would not have the courage, even though they privately recognize Benedict XVI as the true pope.
And so, for that daring, Father Zuhlsdorft deserves praise and applause from all Catholics everywhere.
We live in a time when the clergy, alas, have fallen nearly totally silent about the truths of the Faith and about the errors and falsehoods of our day. And of the greatest of these errors is that which regards understanding what happened — or, as Ann Barnhardt rightly says in a more correct language, what did NOT happen — on Feb. 11, 2013, in the Sala Clementina, from approximately 11:30 AM local time until about 11:40 P.M..
The Vatican announced that Benedict XVI had resigned. Benedict XVI three years later, in his official biography interview by Peter Seewald, however, would explicitly deny that he had abdicated. In other words, he is still the pope, but some sort of revolution or coup d’etat has taken place at the Vatican. A thing which is undeniable by all, since there are two “Popes” at the Vatican.
But since Father Zuhlsdorf has publicly opined upon the matter, and since he has in true humility admitted, as a prologue, that he is not an expert on the controversy, I will make some comments here about what I see are the grave errors which pepper his discussion and keep anyone reading it from arriving at a certain and true conclusion regarding which is the true pope.
Where Father Hunwicke got mislead
Father Zuhlsdorf opens by citing a historical example of a case in which there were two popes, believing by such reference to obtain some light on how to explain the current situation. So he cites another rather well known Catholic priest blogger, Father Hunwicke, a convert, who lives in the United Kingdom.
Here I follow the citation of Father Zuhlsdorf:
Over at his splendid blog, Fr. John Hunwicke had an engaging piece provoked by the whirling of your planet back to the annual Feast of St. Silverius, Pope and Martyr (+537).
Fr. H used this occasion to look into a question which vexes many a thoughtful Catholic these days: two popes at the same time. Possible? Fact: Francis is going around doing pope things while Benedict lives in the Vatican Gardens still looking a lot like The Pope. It’s a head-scratcher.
NB: Some people wave away questions about “two popes” or an invalid resignation. To my mind, it is wrong-headed to gloss over hard questions that vex people, to turn a blind eye to them and whistle a happy tune with fingers deep into one’s ears. There are people who are really upset by this situation. We have an obligation to tackle these questions head on in order to put people at ease about them. Let’s do that.
Back to Fr Hunwicke’s piece.
Background first: In 537, the Byzantine general Flavius Belisarius entered Rome and deposed Pope Silverius who had been elected the previous year. Belisarius brought in his own guy, Vigilius, and made him Pope while Silverius was still alive (for a few months, at least). So, who was the real Pope?
Father Zuhlsdorf’s recourse to a historical example seems a reasonable way to proceed. But I submit that it is colored by the fact that he has grown up in the United States and come to believe that the Common Law principle of precedent is a good principle to apply in a dubious legal case of two popes.
Here Father gets it completely wrong in his presumption. Because the Roman Church has always chosen Roman Law not Common Law — which by the way did not even exist for some 800 years after the faith came to Rome — as Her legal system. In Roman law, precedent has nearly no worth. What matters is what is the statuary law at the time a dispute arises, not what happened in past cases when the laws where different.
And such is the case of the example brought up by Father Hunwicke. Thus, whatever happened in that case, simply has no bearing whatsoever in regard to a solution in the present case. This is true because in the present case, the laws which bear on determining whether the renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI was valid or not, were promulgated in 1983 in the New Code, which expressly abrogated and obrogated all past laws. Whereas, the case cited by Father Hunwicke took place some 1400 years before when there were no canons or laws regarding papal resignations, forced or otherwise.
Dom Guéranger’s quip is worthless and misleading in this debate
Now, in a controversy over law or rights, it is important to cite authorities. No one denies that. But the value of the authority depends on whether he has said anything pertinent to the debate.
Now there is no doubt that Dom Prosper Guéranger is a man worth citing. But since he died before the canons of the Church were codified in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, he obviously approached the problem of a papal schism differently than we do today. He had to, because there was no law to appeal to.
So citing this very learned Benedictine, as Father Zuhlsdorf does in citing Father Hunwicke, is again simply useless, even if the argument sounds good:
Hunwicke provides something from dom Gueranger concerning Silverius and Vigilius (my emphases):
“The inevitable play of human passions, interfering in the election of the Vicar of Christ, may perchance for a while render uncertain the transmission of spiritual power. But when it is proved that the Church … acknowledges in the person of a certain pope, until then doubtful, the true Sovereign Pontiff, this her very recognition is a proof that, from that moment at least, the occupant of the Apostolic See is as such invested by God himself.”
Do you get that? No matter how strange a path by which some fellow became the one with his “bum in the chair”, when “the Church” acknowledges him, then he is the legitimate Pope.
It is simply useless, because we cannot pretend today that there is no law determining whether Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is valid or not or makes him no longer the pope or not! Nearly all who claim Bergoglio is the pope do entertain such a pretense, because if you don’t then you have to recognize that the law gives you no leg to stand on.
But that is not the only error, implicit in the citation of Dom Guéranger. Because, when we cannot know the facts of a case or the moral or legal principles by which it can be solved with certitude, we are forced to resort to reflex principles which indicate a probable or more probable solution.
So Dom Guéranger was right to resort to a reflex principle in a case in which he could not have known the facts well or personally. But we are wrong to do so, since we can easily have the facts of the case with certitude and can easily find the code of canon law in Latin which sets out the principles by which we can arrive with certitude at the correct answer.
A Shameful error in reading Latin
Now if anyone sees the Latin term, which is key in this controversy, and mistranslates it as office — for wont of a better term — I as a Latinist can excuse him, because I have done the same. But since Father Zuhlsdorf is rather famous for his Latinity, I will have to say that when he renders munus as office, it is a shameful error.
Admittedly Father Zuhlsdorf claims no expertise in this debate, and so perhaps does not know that Canon 17 explains how to understand the word munus, but after all that has been written, which is not hard to find on the internet, it is simply irresponsible to cite a translation of munus as office without at least pointing out the translation is wrong or insufficient to understand this controversy.
For if munus meant office, then in canon 145 §1, the Code would not define officium as a munus, under a certain sort of specification. It would simply say they mean the same thing. But it does not, therefore, in the mind of the legislator we must understand, as Canon 17 requires us, that the words do NOT mean the same thing.
And if you want to know what munus means, you can avail yourself of the only academic paper every submitted in a Conference at Rome, which followed the norm of canon 17 to discover what it means. And you can read it here. It was delivered 21 months ago and has never been refuted by anyone, anywhere.
Father Zuhlsdorf then wanders into quacksand
At this point, the learned Father Zuhlsdorf, who evidently does not know the principles of Canon Law, wanders off into speculating that the Office of the Pope can be separated from the Office of the Bishop of Rome.
This speculation has found favor and pleasure among some who are participating in this debate. But out of respect for them, I will not mention them by name.
Suffice it to say, that the office of Peter cannot be separated from the Bishopric of Rome, when both are understood properly, that is, according to the correct understanding of their terms. We can know this with certainty, because Vatican I infallibly declared that the Pope has no authority over the deposit of the Faith. And the Deposit of the Faith includes Apostolic Tradition. Apostolic Tradition means what the Apostles handed down, left to us, for our instruction. And obviously the office of St. Peter was left to the Church of Rome BY THE APOSTLE PETER. Hence it cannot be alienated from it by anyone.
To say otherwise is simple heresy. For it implies that Apostolic Tradition can be overthrown, corrected or changed. Now that is the doctrine of Bergoglio (e. g., in regard to the Our Father), but it is not Catholic.
And to imply that Pope Benedict XVI intended that, is not only unsubstantiated by any explicit statement, but requires a reading of his Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013 which is artificial and strained at the best, and totally imaginary at the worst.
You do not have to play games of theological speculation, to find out whether the renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI is valid or not. Simply read canon 332 and the text of the Declaratio and it is clear enough, if you want to see it, and if you are not a priest who is naming Bergoglio as the pope in the canon of the mass.
Father Zuhlsdorf’s exposition of the controversy does contain some accurate parts, where he lays out the basic argument for the invalidity of the Declaratio to cause Benedict XVI to no longer be pope.
But for the most part his exposition is rambling and confusing and seems inconclusive.
I object strongly at his blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, in saying that that Divine Person might rig a papal election with the intent of giving us a bad pope. God cannot will evil. To say so, is to call God the Devil.
And I demure at the entire post by Father Zuhlsdorf, because I think that if a priest open his mouth, he should at least give clear doctrine and not muddle the waters.
But what is lacking is grave also in this, that Father seems to think, by his noticeable omission, that if a priest names someone he doubts is the pope in the Canon of the Mass that he is not gravely sinning, or that if he names someone whom God knows is not the pope, he is not gravely sinning. This omission in the article is very shocking, because it pretends to a form of Catholicism in which the manner of the offering of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is one which is acceptable to God when it is rubrically correct, regardless of whom it is offered in communion with, a true or false pope. And that makes a mockery of the Divine Majesty.
First, let me publicly thank them for calling me Brother. I will respond by referring to them as Mister, because I believe that in debating a Catholic should be respectful of persons and of truth, and disrespectful of error and falsehood.
However, as regards the title it is incorrect. I am not a Bennyvacantist. A Bennyvacantist, if the word means anything but a purile slur — and I assumed Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza are gentlemen and would never stoop to such behavior — must mean someone who holds that Pope Benedict has vacated the Apostolic Throne. But that is not my position, that is the position of Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza.
So there is some major confusion. As the attack on me personally regards the accusation that I am misusing words and changing definitions, I am not nitpicking the title, I am merely showing that my interlocutors are misusing words and changing the proper meaning of particles. So that kind of puts doubt that their critique of my position on dogmatic facts will be sound.
Here is their opening charge against me:
There’s a common saying that schism always ends in heresy. If a false doctrine isn’t trumped up to justify the schism, a true doctrine is distorted and eventually denied to sustain it. The latter is taking place before our eyes with Br. Alexis Bugnolo, whose “Benevacantist” position has now forced him to falsify the meaning of dogmatic facts by entirely redefining the term. It was only a matter of time before this happened, since his rejection of the peaceful and universal acceptance (UPA) has always really been a rejection of the infallibility of the Magisterium in judging dogmatic facts. As we will see later, according to Cardinal Ratzinger himself, by rejecting the legitimacy of Francis’ election, Br. Alexis Bugnolo has rejected a truth of the faith, denied the infallibility of the Magisterium, and cut himself from communion with the Catholic Church. And this teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger is perfectly consistent with what all the theologians have taught, and what Martin V defined at the Council of Constance.
I concede the first proposition…but they should have not
It is true as regard the Greek Schismatics, for example. But why is it true. Because when you separate yourself from the true Pope you fall away from Christ’s Mediation of grace. We see heresy arise in all schisms which perdure a long time, when they intentionally reject the Roman Pontiff.
However, it is really poor judgement that my opponents cite this principle at the very beginning of their diatribe. Because, as you can see, logic itself turns against them:
MAJOR PROPOSITION: There’s a common saying that schism always ends in heresy. If a false doctrine isn’t trumped up to justify the schism, a true doctrine is distorted and eventually denied to sustain it.
MINOR PROPOSITION: But Jorge Mario Bergoglio by the universal acceptance of every Catholic author in the last 7 years who accepts the perennial magisterium has spoken heresy, has refused to retract it and continues to profess it.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, Bergoglio must be in schism, because he has ended in heresy. But if he is in schism he is not the pope.
Contrariwise, after 7 years, Pope Benedict XVI has not fallen into heresy. Therefore he must be in union with the true pope. But Bergoglio is not the true pope, since he has fallen into schism. Therefore, he must be the true pope, because the Church cannot be without its Head.
Truths of the Faith
As we will see later, according to Cardinal Ratzinger himself, by rejecting the legitimacy of Francis’ election, Br. Alexis Bugnolo has rejected a truth of the faith,
The Faith is defined as the totality of Divine Revelation, when “the Faith” is used as a metynymic term for the whole of the Catholic Religion. Faith as a virtue is not called, “the faith” in English, as anyone who has ever taken 1 course in theology at a Catholic institution should have learned.
So when Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza classify Dogmatic Facts as truths of the faith, I have to shake my head. They have just redefined the Faith. It is a truth of faith, but not of the Faith. It is a truth of faith, because faith requires implicitly that when we show obedience of assent to the teaching of the Magisterium, that we accept that certain authorities involved in is promuglation are in fact legitimate. Thus, as Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza rightly say, elsewhere in their article:
Again, we see that a dogmatic fact must be believed with faith because of its connection to revealed truth, and is a fact that the Church judges infallibly due to its relation with a revealed truth.
Here, Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza change their definition of Dogmatic Fact. Now they say it regards revealed truth. Whereas before in their opening peroration they said is was “a truth of the faith”, which I explained, must mean a revealed truth.
The problem here arises from the Latin, since we say of truths of the faith that they are de fide. And Latin does not have the definite article, the. If you are skilled in the philosophy of particulars and universals, and in the theology of dogma and in the English language, you can understand this. But you won’t learn it in law school or in other disciplines, because they do not teach it.
So I can honestly concede that Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza are scandalized at my use of terms when speaking about all these three arguments, and about canon law, because they simply are trying to squeeze what I am saying into the wrong categories of their own minds, which do not know how to distinguish them properly. I see this commonly among many Catholics and I do not get angry at it, since I know that I once also did not understand this before I went to Seminary and 3 pontifical universities. Though for the record, I do not hold a degree in them. My degree is in Cultural Anthropology.
This leaves Br. Bugnolo in quite the predicament. If he remains in communion with Pope Benedict, he too is a member of the Church of Antichrist.
Here Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza make a grave error in their ecclesiology. As Catholics we should be in communion with all the other members of the Catholic Church. Not to do so would be schismatic. So whether you think Benedict is the pope or not, you should be in communion with him. To say that anyone who is is a member of the Church of the Antichrist is as much false, as it is an absurd exaggeration and horrendous thing to say. Because by saying it, they are implying that Pope Benedict XVI is the Antichrist.
I think this lapsus linguae is very revealing.
Yet if they refuse to accept his own judgment that Benedict’s abdication was invalid, he is “rebelling against the papal law,” and “condemned by Unam Sanctam.”
But as regards the judgement that Benedict’s Declaratio did not have the proper canonical form to effect his separation from the petrine munus, I do not recall that I have ever said that this is so because I judge it so. If Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza can find such a statement, I will withdraw it. But as I have loved the Papal magisterium from my youth, and know well in what it consists, I learned when I was a boy, reading Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori, that in matters of the Catholic religion we must leave aside our own judgement completely and simply accept the words used by Holy Mother Church or by the Saints at their face value. And this includes canon law. Do my opponents do that?
I submit that all rational and sane men by universal acceptance will grant that in saying that “when Benedict renounces ministerium while canon 332 requires the renunciation of munus, that the renunciation is not in conformity to the norm of law and is rendered of no effect by canon 38, irritus by canon 188 and not binding on anyone in virtue of canon 41,” that I am not using my own judgement to support my such an assertion, I am merely reiterating the law in the circumstances which prima facie it appears to apply to. And as every lawyer knows, the prima facie meaning of a law or legal text has the presumption in every argument. For that reason, since the application of the LAW to due circumstances is not an opinion, which wavers between doubt and assent, it is also wrong to call it my opinion. I do not hold it as an opinion, I hold it with the same certitude that the Sun rose this morning and that Rome is the capital of Italy, because those are facts of reality just as factual and real as that ministerium was renounced by Benedict in his text and that munus is found in canon 332 §2. From these facts, the conclusion follows with the same certitude: prima facie the renunciation of the papal office never was effected, therefore it must be held that Benedict is the pope still, because the cessation of power is not to be presumed.
In the formation of Catholic Clergy, prior to the study of theology or canon law, a seminarian has to study philosophy. This is required because you cannot understand theology without the intellectual ability to make the proper distinctions and to undrstand words in their proper senses. I have had such formation at Our Lady of Grace Seminary in Boston, where I graduated cum laude.
So on the central argument of Dogmatic Facts, I concede all the authors cited. But I point out that none of them is magisterial and that theologians are often imprecise even if they are substantially correct. This is mostly because they write for one purpose, but readers read them for another purpose and so miss the finer points of context, which change how you apply the principles or truths they enunciate. That is why no theologian or canonist has publicly denounced my position. In fact, Edward Pentin on Saturday, at his blog, affirmed that Mons. Nicola Bux knows many canonists who hold the same position.
Let me cite Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza, where they write:
Here is how another real theologian, Tanquerey, explains dogmatic facts in Vol. I of Dogmatic Theology (1959).
“The Church is infallible in regard to dogmatic facts. A dogmatic fact is one which is so much connected with a doctrine of the Church that knowledge of it is necessary in order to understand the doctrine and to preserve it safely. Dogmatic facts can be threefold: historical, doctrinal and hagiographical. Thus, dogmatic facts are the legitimacy of the Holy Pontiff, the ecumenical (universal) nature of a Council. That the Church is infallible in regard to dogmatic facts is certain.” (Tanquerey, Dogmatic Theology, vol. 1, 1959, p. 146.)
The debate with me, however, regards only the historical Dogmatic Facts, though I admit referring to doctrinal dogmatic facts. Elsewhere, above this, in their article they attack me claiming my examples of dogmatic facts are wrong:
As anyone who has ever consulted a theology manual concerning dogmatic facts would know, the nomination of a bishop is not a dogmatic fact, regardless of whether he accepts the nomination. Neither is the choice of the Cardinals during a conclave.
Here, I really got to chuckle. Evidently, Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza think that dogmatic facts are like points in a Cartesian plane, through which there are no intersecting lines. I know that this is false, because when I studied what dogmatic facts were, under Dr. Peter Felhner, OFM Conv., I asked him the question: If it is a dogmatic fact that Vatican I was a true council because it defined papal authority, then would not all the facts which lead to that also be dogmatic, like the fact that Pope Pius IX was the canonically elected, was validly ordained a Bishop, was validly baptized, and was born and existed. His answer was yes, they are remotely considered as dogmatic facts, whereas that Vatican I was a valid council is the proximate dogmatic fact. Also there are negative and positive dogmatic facts. A positive one is that which is connected to a dogma by positively affirming it. A negative one is that which is connected to a dogma by affirming that contrary evidence is not authoritative. Such as for example the teaching did not come from an authentic source, which becomes dogmatic inasmuch as it negative demonstrates that the contrary doctrine is not dogmatic.
Wherefore, when I say the nomination of a bishop is a dogmatic fact, I am referring to remote historical dogmatic facts. I did not specify their connection to dogma, because in the context of my writing I am referring to the acts themselves inasmuch as they are classified. Obviously, the nomination of a man as Bishop does regard a dogmatic fact, because as Bishop he holds the ordinary power of the magisterium, and his teaching enters into the ordinary magisterium of the Church only if he is a licitly appointed or validly ordained Bishop of the Catholic Church holding jurisdiction. If he did not accept, then that he was not a Bishop is a negative dogmatic fact. But his appointment by the Pope is a remote dogmatic historical fact, inasmuch the act proves that the Pope was the true pope, and the Pope exercises the Magisterium which touches upon many points of doctrine affirming or which will be used to affirm the definition of dogma or doctrine int he future.
If you know philosophy you understand these things.
Church Doctrine vs. the teaching of theologians
The next major confusion that Mr. Siscoe and Mrs. Salza have regards doctrine. The word means simply teaching. The Church teaches and theologians teach. But not every opinion of a theologian is Church doctrine. For example, Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori wrote a book on Moral Theology in which he presents thousands of his own opinions on matters of morals. But it would be incorrect to say that since he is canonized and a doctor of the Church that his opinions are church doctrine or binding doctrine. Yes, they are approved of, inasmuch as the Church probably will not punish anyone for holding them, but nearly all of them have never been formally taught by the extraordinary Magisterium, even though many of them may regard and be derived from the ordinary magisterium.
When you study dogmatic theology 101, you learn these things.
So, I have to object to what Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza write when they say:
The consequences of rejecting this Doctrine
They make the statement in reference to the opinions they cite from theologians in the previous section:
Fr. E. Sylvester Berry’s book, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise, which was originally published in 1927
Tanquerey, explains dogmatic facts in Vol. I of Dogmatic Theology (1959).
Msgr. Van Noort provides the same explanation in his manual of Dogmatic Theology, The Church of Christ, published in 1957.
Now, as can bee seen from their identities, it is a dogmatic historical remote negative fact that they are not Bishops of the Catholic Church and never held an office which participated in the ordinary magisterium of the Church. Therefore, their doctrine is not magisterial. And therefore it might contain some imprecision and may even be wrong. I do not think their doctrine is wrong, but I do think that some of their statements regard other kinds of dogmatic facts, or are extrapolations poorly expressed. No one is required to accept their doctrine as they state it, since it is not the doctrine of the Church in the form in which the state it, it is their own doctrine.
I am not sure if Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza understand these distinctions.
Nay, it seems that they suffer from super-scrupulosity in accepting the doctrines of theologians who are fallible men and yet suffer from a complete lack of scrupulosity in accepting the terms of Canon Law which does not come from man, but from the office of Saint Peter, approved in Heaven by Mouth of God Himself, saying: whatsoever you bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven.
I find their inability to do this inexplicable. I find their imbalanced approach also inexplicable, though I tried to explain it here.
Intrinsic and extrinsic proofs
One of the fundamental problems that Mr. Siscoe and Mr. Salza seem to have is their inability to distinguish the proper hierarchy of forensic evidence.
Forensic refers to things which pertain to the scrutiny of a court. Forensic evidence is evidence presented to judgment. We are not talking about courts here, but we are talking about evidence which pertains to the truth or value of canonical acts in the Church. So I use the term forensic in this sense.
Now among such evidence there is a hierarchy. Let us take an example to illustrate this. A man is charged with murder. There is his confession, the video tape of the murder, the testimony of witnesses which saw it, or heard it when it happened, and of witnesses who heard others speak of it or of the accused confess it. Then there is the evidence from the crime scene which is strictly spoken of as forensic evidence when gathered for a prosecution in court.
In the USA the legal system puts the judgement about the evidence to be admitted for a trial before all other proceedings of the actual case, because it is important to get the evidence correct. Thus, I think we can agree that some evidence is more determinative than other evidence.
For example, if there is a video of the actual murder, and the testimony of someone a week later who heard the accused say he was not innocent. The testimony cannot be regarded as as crucial or important. Even the testimony of someone who heard the crime but did not see it. There is a hierarchy of importance. And this is determined by its proximity to the historical event or act which is under investigation or dispute.
But for Mr. Siscoe and Salza, they want the remote and post factum consequential evidence of what Bishops thought happened because they uncritically listened to the media say Benedict did in fact resign the papacy to be the SOLE determinative factor, and want everyone to ignore the crucial proximate evidence that Benedict renounced ministerium not munus.
I think anyone can see that is simply not a sound way of proceeding.
But that some theologian in the past at any time advocated the use of such remote post factum evidence as proof, is really praeter rem to the present argument. Because in the past documentation was hard to come by. Ancient manuscripts and notes and transcripts have been lost. One does not have certain proximate evidence, so there is some necessity to argue a case on the basis of remote post factum evidence. But with Benedict XVI that is not necessary as we all have all the proximate evidence in his Declaratio and the Code of Canon Law.
Thus in regard to the election of Roman Pontiffs or their renunciations, the conformity of their election or renunciation to the norm of law in force at the time is the principle and proximate forensic criterion upon which to base the evaluation of the proximate or remote positive or negative historical dogmatic fact that they were elected or not, or did resign or not. That is what legitimacy means properly.
Legitimacy does not mean public opinion. But when the proximate evidence is lacking or obscure some theologians have appealed to post factum evidence to establish legitimacy. But they are not talking about canonical legitimacy in the sense of conformity to law, but in the sense of determined by the judgement of a Council or the Apostolic College.
The citations made to Martin V regard the Council of Constance which condemned Huss. The question of the legitimacy of Martin V’s election results from the 38 year controversy over who was validly elected in the election of 1378, whence sprang the Great Schism in the Church. Because Martin V was elected after both rivals renounced their claims, though one later fled to Spain and left a series of successors as anti-popes. Since the Great Schism was put to an end in a Council, it is one of the few dogmatic facts which prove the possible doubts to a papal title, in this case Martin V, whom the Hussites charged was not the valid pope on that account. So the statements made about universal acceptance had value in that debate, since the proximate evidence of 1378 was long put in doubt.
Understanding all of the above, because I learned it from those more knowledgeable than myself, hold that Benedict still the pope for the reasons I have stated in my Index to Pope Benedict’s Renunciation. I do so because I recognize things the way the Church teaches them, while my opponents rush off to find some other kind of evidence while ignoring the proximate issues.
For this reason I think the arguments marshaled against my position are false, praeter rem, erroneous, mistaken, and based on a lot of lack of familiarity with philosophy, theology and canon law, and the principles of forensic evidentiary methodology.
Finally, please excuse any errors in this rebuttal, as I wrote it quickly in the space of an hour or so, and am a poor proof reader.
The one golden thread of consistency in every defender of Bergoglio, whether of his blatant heresies, blasphemies or crimes, or whether of his claim to be validly elected or retain his office, is that his defenders are willing to lie, and to lie boldly.
I have had occasion to publicly out them as such many times here at FromRome.Info, and today, I consider it necessary to do so once again.
I speak of Steve O’Reilly, who says he is a convert to the Catholic Faith and lectures Catholics about what to see and not to see, what to think and not to think, on his own authority, about the Declaration of Pope Benedict. He has attempted some childishly immature and false arguments from November 2018, when he entered into the fray of the debate. And he has painted his position with redundant misrepresentations, lies and logical frauds ever since.
Now, however, he has proceeded to a new low, that of putting forth his own opinion as the historical narrative.
He makes this claim in his new essay, “Being Wrong: The Ontology of the BiP Argument”, published yesterday at his blog, Roma locuta est, by which he mans, “Steve has spoken, now shut up”! BiP is a derogatory term for those who hold that Benedict Is the Pope. It is crafted to make such persons appear to be blips of ignorance.
His recent sui generis extravagance is this:
I do not believe I ever have heard Dr. Mazza or other BiP-ers adequately explain what Benedict meant when he wrote in the Declaratio he renounces the Petrine ministry ‘in such a way’ that the ‘See of Peter will be vacant.’
The author who crafts an argument from a faulty memory is truly a sophist of the highest quality, so I will only remark that objectively speaking, if Mr. O’Reilley has a perfect memory, then he is a public liar, since I explained the canonical and logical meaning of that statement adequate in my Disputed Question on the Renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI in December of 2018, some 2 years and 5 months ago – and which he has read in my replies to his ludicrous argumentations. In that question from Dec. 2018, I asked and responded to this problem, he now reposes, in Part II of that Question:
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.
And I expanded upon my response, further, writing:
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.
I suppose, however, that by “adequately” O’Reilly means, what he always means by his writings in defend of Bergoglio, namely, that “When I say you have no proof or adequate argument, I am setting up myself as the measure of truth and adequacy and hoping that you do not see that I am gaslighting you all along.”.
Indeed, O’Reilly consistently argues as if the English translation published by the Vatican is the true canonical document. And you can see that in how he renders the Latin “ut”. I know that the State Department does not know Latin, because one of their staff employers purchased my Latin Course for their staff library, many years ago.
And that may be the truth, because as Mr. O’Reilly admits on the About page of his blog, he is a former intelligence officer. He does not say of which agency or nation, however.
I recently was informed by a reader, moreover, that the founders of LifeSite News, which consistently affirm the validity of the Renunciation, are former employees of a Canadian publication founded by a MI5 intelligence asset. Like Michael Matt of The Remnant, who has gone silent, is a graduate of Christendom College which was founded by a CIA agent. I hope the picture is becoming clear for you.
For public disclosure, I have never worked for any intelligence agency.
March 6, 2021: The Italian Daily, il Libero Quotidiano has published an article by Andrea Cionci provocatively entitled, “Un libro rimette Ratzinger sul soglio” (A Book has put Ratzinger back on the Throne). — Above is the image of the actual article. — Below follows the Italian and ENGLISH translation.
The article features the juridial study of Attorney Estefania Acosta Ochoa, an legal expert from Colombia, South America, which was published by Amazon Books in English, Portuguese and Spanish last week, and which is causing a global sensation among the sacred hierarchy. FromRome.Info featured the book in two previous articles. (here & here)
It represents an important work necessary for the International Inquest into Corruption at the Vatican, which was issued 366 days before the publication of Acosta’s Book. The Inquest calls for an extraordinary Synod to hear the facts, depose the antipope Bergoglio, and restore Pope Benedict XVI to the Apostolic Throne.
The article by Andrea Cionci, in the Libro, this morning here in Italy, marks the first time, according to my knowledge, that a major Italian newspaper dares to express that Benedict XVI is still the pope according to the juridical facts and laws.
As such, it is a decisve shot across the bow of the ecclesiastical establishment which in the eyes of a large portion of the faithful world wide has UTTERLY discredited themselves, and the institution of the priesthood, over their malicious insistence to simply ignore the facts and laws, while proclaiming Bergoglio undoubtedly the pope.
ITALIAN ORIGINAL – Reprinted with permission
Il primo testo giuridico: Benedetto XVI invalidò le dimissioni.
Il papa è lui.
“Il papa è solo lui, non Francesco”: la ricostruzione dello stratagemma
by Andrea Cionci
E’ appena uscito il primo testo giuridico che conferma: il papa è uno solo, Benedetto XVI, in quanto la Declaratio di dimissioni è stata da lui costruita in modo giuridicamente invalido.
L’avvocatessa colombiana Estefania Acosta, autrice di “Benedict XVI: pope emeritus?“ spiega come la Declaratio sia stata preparata con cura da Ratzinger in modo che, sulle prime, non si notasse che non si stava affatto dimettendo. Gli errori di latino avrebbero poi attirato l’attenzione anche sul meccanismo giuridico auto-invalidante.
Non essendo giuristi dobbiamo rimanere ai dati di cronaca oggettivi, come gli ambigui comportamenti di Benedetto stigmatizzati dal card. Pell: egli veste ancora di bianco (giustificandosi col dire che “non ha più talari nere nell’armadio”), risiede in Vaticano, mantiene il nome, la benedizione apostolica e, da otto anni, ripete – sibillino – che “il papa è uno solo”, senza mai specificare quale.
Ci hanno provato a farglielo dire, nel 2019, quando Vatican News titolò: “Per Benedetto il papa è uno, Francesco”, citando (un giorno prima) un’intervista di Massimo Franco sul Corriere. Ma il virgolettato era di Franco, non di Benedetto. Una svista?
La Acosta, nelle sue 300 pagine, analizza anche altre questioni, come le dichiarazioni del cardinale Danneels, primate del Belgio e membro della “Mafia di San Gallo” che, nell’autobiografia andata a ruba e mai smentita dal Vaticano, dichiarava che la stessa lobby di cardinali modernisti mirava a far dimettere Ratzinger avendo come campione Bergoglio. Roba da scomunica automatica, secondo la costituzione Universi Dominici Gregis promanata da Wojtyla nel ’96.
Ma per la Acosta, dirimente è solo la Declaratio: «Attenzione, le dimissioni non sono invalide perché Benedetto è stato “forzato”: egli ha agito consapevolmente, sapeva che non si stava dimettendo dall’ESSERE il Papa (cedendo il munus petrino), ma semplicemente dichiarava di rinunciare al FARE il papa (il ministerium), a svolgerne – solo alcune – azioni pratiche. Ciò invalida le sue dimissioni, poiché munus e ministerium, per il papa, sono INDIVISIBILI, come conferma (pur in difesa di Bergoglio) il canonista Mons. Sciacca. Si spiega così l’ultima battuta di Ratzinger al Corriere: “Otto anni fa ho compiuto la mia scelta in piena consapevolezza e ho la coscienza a posto”. Il mainstream non ha capito».
Altro fatto strano: perché nelle versioni della Declaratio dal latino in italiano e altre lingue il Vaticano ha tradotto il munus sempre come ministerium? Perché essi sono indivisibili, o per celare la “trappola” di Benedetto? A “guadagnarci”, in entrambi i casi, è il Benedetto-stratega.
Ancora più strano come la gravissima questione venga evitata in modo surreale non solo dai vescovi, ma anche dai media laici. Eppure, l’hanno già denunciata giornalisti, teologi, latinisti. Ora c’è finalmente un testo giuridico: si apra il dibattito.
Indifferenze, attacchi personali e accuse di complottismo, in reazione, avvalorerebbero la tesi per cui Benedetto, nel 2013, isolato e impotente, seguì tale strategia per lasciare che la “deep Church”, al servizio del mondialismo, si svelasse. “Ambiguo per non mentire”, avrebbe così mantenuto quanto da lui scritto nella Declaratio, anche se essa è giuridicamente invalida. Del resto, sotto attacco dall’interno, cosa avrebbe potuto fare per difendere la Chiesa? Solo usare la Logica e il Diritto canonico, attendendo che i vescovi, “vedendo davvero” la Declaratio, uno ad uno, dicano semplicemente la verità: che l’unico papa è Benedetto. Il resto verrebbe da sé.
ENGLISH AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION
The first legal text: Benedict XVI invalidated the resignation. The pope is him.
“The pope is only him, not Francis”: the reconstruction of the stratagem
The first legal text confirming: the pope is only one, Benedict XVI, has just come out, as the Declaratio of resignation was constructed by him in a legally invalid way.
Colombian lawyer Estefania Acosta, author of “Benedict XVI: pope emeritus?” explains how the Declaratio was carefully prepared by Ratzinger so that, at first, it was not noticed that he was not resigning at all. The Latin errors would then also draw attention to the self-invalidating legal mechanism.
Not being jurists, we have to stick to objective facts, such as the ambiguous behavior of Benedict stigmatized by Card. Pell: he still wears white (justifying himself by saying that “he has no more black cassocks in his closet”), he resides in the Vatican, he keeps his name, the apostolic blessing and, for eight years, he repeats – sibylline – that “the pope is only one”, without ever specifying which one.
They tried to get him to say it, in 2019, when Vatican News titled, “For Benedict the pope is one, Francis,” quoting (a day earlier) an interview by Massimo Franco in the Corriere. But the quotation mark was Franco’s, not Benedict’s. An oversight?
Acosta, in its 300 pages, also analyzes other issues, such as the statements made by Cardinal Danneels, primate of Belgium and member of the “Mafia of St. Gallen”, who, in his autobiography, never denied by the Vatican, stated that the same lobby of modernist cardinals aimed to make Ratzinger resign, having Bergoglio as a champion. Stuff from automatic excommunication, according to the constitution Universi Dominici Gregis emanated by Wojtyla in ’96.
But for Acosta, what is decisive is only the Declaratio: “Attention, the resignation is not invalid because Benedict was “forced”: he acted consciously, he knew that he was not resigning from BEING the Pope (ceding the Petrine munus), but was simply declaring that he was renouncing to DO the Pope (the ministerium), to carry out – only some – practical actions. This invalidates his resignation, since munus and ministerium, for the pope, are INDIVISIBLE, as confirmed (though in Bergoglio’s defense) by canonist Monsignor Sciacca. This explains Ratzinger’s last remark to Corriere: “Eight years ago I made my choice in full awareness and I have a clear conscience. The mainstream has not understood”.
Another strange fact: why in the versions of the Declaratio from Latin into Italian and other languages did the Vatican always translate munus as ministerium? Because they are indivisible, or to conceal Benedict’s “trap”? To “gain”, in both cases, is the Benedict-strategist.
Even stranger is how the very serious issue is surreally avoided not only by the bishops, but also by the lay media. Yet, journalists, theologians, Latinists have already denounced it. Now there is finally a juridical text: open the debate.
Indifference, personal attacks and accusations of conspiracy, in reaction, would corroborate the thesis that Benedict, in 2013, isolated and powerless, followed such a strategy to let the “deep Church”, at the service of globalism, unveil itself. “Ambiguous in order not to lie,” he would thus have maintained what he wrote in the Declaratio, even though it is legally invalid. Moreover, under attack from within, what could he have done to defend the Church? Only use Logic and Canon Law, waiting for the bishops, “really seeing” the Declaratio, one by one, to simply tell the truth: that the only pope is Benedict. The rest would come by itself.
Dear Friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae: a friend of our community, Sergio Russo, author of the book about which about which we spoke some time ago, Sei tu quello o dobbiamo aspettarne un altro? (Are you the one or should we expect another?), has sent us a reflection which seems to us particularly interesting and stimulating on the strange situation in which we we are living, and about which we have spoken in recent days. Have a good read!
§ § §
Two Impelling Questions
which necessitate an urgent answer
by Sergio Russo
The first is: “Is Pope Francis a pope in every way, or not?”
The second, which is consequent upon the first, is: “Is Pope Benedict XVI still the pope, or not?”
I offer my personal contribution to the present debate, taking occasion also from the recent intervention by the Mons. Athanasius Schneider (dated Feb. 28, 2020) published originally in English at the site LIfeSite News, and also in French translation on the blog, Le Blog de Jeanne Smits.
Therefore, I will list here simply a series of facts, and not of argumentations, leaving it to the Reader to form his own opinion on the matter, knowing well, however, that contra factum non valet argumentum (against a fact no argument is valid).
Both academics and experts of things theological, as well as simple faithful, have noted how, from the date of March 13, 2013, even unto today, there has been created an unheard of situation, never before happening in the two thousand year history of the Church: the co-existence and co-habitation in the Vatican of two popes.
All of these, however, know well that the expression, “pope emeritus”, plays on the congruence/assonance of “Bishop Emeritus” and “Cardinal Emeritus”, and that, besides, it is not ordained by any canon of ecclesiastical law, neither past nor present …
Moreover, it is to be noted – and here it basically returns to the same univocity which occurs in effect in the principle — just as there is, thus, no “priest emeritus”, so also, both the academic and the faithful have always known (but perhaps today the way to understand things has changed?) that there absolutely is no other kind of pope, neither Emeritus nor Presiding, and more so, and this by “una contraddizione, che nol consente … (a contradiction which does not consent to it)”, as Dante would say, since — and all believing Catholics have always held this as valid — the pope is the symbol and guarantor of unity in the Catholic Church, and She is one Body (though Mystical, but a true body), which cannot have but one sole Head!
Therefore, not a two-headed Body, which would be a monstrosity, and neither a headless body, which would instead be a deficiency: as a matter of fact, one alone is the Christ, one alone is the Church, one alone the Faith, one alone the Vicar of Christ and one alone the Head of the Church …. and this is what the two-thousand year Magisterium of the Church has always affirmed, without the least hesitation!
Pope Francis, on the one hand would be the pope in every way, since he was licitly elected by all the Cardinals, united in a lawful Conclave (and which consequently is indubitable)
On the other hand, we are given to know that the election of Pope Francis (and this is also indubitable) might not be equally valid, since according to a declaration — never denied — of the now late Belgian Cardinal Godfried Dannels, present in his book-biography, which reports the admissions of the prelate made to the journalists, J. Mettepenningen and K. Schelkens, the said Cardinal revealed to them that a group of Cardinals and Bishops (to which he also belonged) worked for years to prepare for the election of J. M. Bergoglio, seeing that all of these porporati were opponents of Joseph Ratzinger: it was, in fact, a group which was kept secret, which the same Cardinal Danneels defined as “a mafia club, which bore the name of St. Gall”.
And this type of agreement, according to the Apostolic Constitution of Saint John Paul II, Universi Dominic Gregis, which regulates the “vacancy of the Apostolic See and the election of the Roman Pontiff”, falls under a latae sententiae excommunication, as is clearly affirmed in nn. 77, 81, and 82:
« Confirming also the prescriptions of our Predecessors, I prohibit anyone, even if he is marked with the dignity of the Cardinalate, to make agreements, while the Pope is alive and without having consulted him, about the election of His Successor, or promise votes, or take decisions in this regard in private meetings » (n.79); « The Cardinal Electors are to abstain, moreover, from every form of vote-canvassing, agreements, promises or other pledges of any kind, which can constrain them to give or deny their vote to one or another. If such in reality would happen, even if under the obligation of a vow, I decree that such a pledge be null and invalid and that no one is bound to observe it; and from this moment I impose the excommunication latae sententiae upon the transgressors of this prohibition.» (n.81); « Equally, I forbid to the Cardinals to make, before an election, formal agreements, whether to receive pledges of common agreement, obliging themselves to put them into effect in the case that one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. Even these promises, as much as they might be made, even under the obligation of an oath, I declare null and invalid » (n.82).
It is good to repeat that the “Renunciation” of Benedict XVI (according to his own admission) was truly made in full awareness and without any constraint … and yet that such a “renunciation” cannot be held to be truly such, since (and this is the seventh one which has occurred in the course of the two thousand years of Church history) all those who did renounce the papacy afterwards returned to their prior status as before thier election: and hence he who was a Bishop or Cardinal, returned to being a Bishop or Cardinal … he who was before a hermit, returned to be a hermit … (if one remembers the events of Pope Celestine V and Pietro da Morrone!), and hence none remained pope (not even an “emeritus”, or any other kind), by continuing to wear the white cassock, by maintaining the papal coat of arms, by signing wtih the name of the Pontiff, etc..
Hence, just as, if one must believe that Benedict XVI posited his “renunciation” in total autonomy and independence … so and equally, one must believe in what He himself declared: “… When, on April 19 nearly 8 years ago I accepted to assume the petrine ministry … from that moment on I was engaged always and for always by the Lord … The “always” is also a “for always”, there is no longer a return to the private: My decision to renounce the active exerciste of the ministry, does not revoke this ” (Benedict XVI, Wednesday General Audience of Feb. 27, 2013, Piazza S. Petro).
And hence, through his own same admission, Benedict XVI is always and still pope, whether others say so or not.
Therefore, in this case more than ever, there is required by all a firm intellectual coherence: if we ought to believe and hold as true the words of the Holy Father about His own renunciation, we ought, on the other hand and equally, believe and hold as true the just mentioned words pronounced by Benedict XVI, which affirm that he remains still and always pope!
In conclusion, how can one explain, then, such an apparent and present unresolved situation in the Church … what, in substance, ought we hold to have clear ideas and not to let ourselves be overwhelmed, even us, by such a contemporary “confusion”?
The solution is supplied us both by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, but as something requiring of us the highest attention and correct discernment ….
It is Our Lady Herself, in fact, who asks us to pay attention to Her words, left in our own days at Fatima, in which She speaks, both of the Holy Father, and of a Bishop dressed in white.
The Divine Providence has also arranged, also in our own days, that Pope John Paul II elevated to the honors of the altar the Blessed Ann Catherine Emmerich, making in this way known to all believers her singular visions, especailly those in which she saw “the Church of the two popes”, the Church of always, faithful to the Magisterium, at whose head is the Holy Father, and another “new” church: big, strange and extravagant … (and, moreover, that the warnings, in part from the Mother of God are truly very many: the Miraculous Medal, La Salette, Fatima, Garabandal, the Marian Movement of Priests and many, many others …).
And, at last, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (in nn. 675-677), in which it informs, that, in our own days, all the faithful will be called to confront a “final test”, capable of shocking the faith of many believers, since in it there will be revealed the “mystery of iniquity”, able to provide an apparent solution to contemporary men, under the form of a religious impostiture, and it will be then that we will have to decide on which side to stand: whether with the Anti-Christ (the Anti-Church and the Anti-Gospel, as even John Paul II was wont to say), though this at the cost of apostasy from the Truth, in joining in such a manner the “new church”, great and lauded by the world, as ecological and ecumenical, which concerns itself primarily with the poor … or if we would remain with the Church of always, even if it is today seen in a bad light by the world, which reputs Her as integralist and fundamentalist, to remain with the holy Magisterium, held even today as antiquated, and faithful to the Gospel of Christ, the one and true God, our Savior and Redeemer: “Whom we hold most dear!”
This is an authorized translation of the original at
In the Summer Issue of the Latin Mass Magazine, 2020, there has appeared an article by Father Brian Harrison, on pp. 12-19, with 21 footnotes, entitled, “Is Benedict Still the Pope”.
Since I was named in the article and insulted, I will reply to the entire argument. I was not notified of the publication by either the editor of the magazine or the author of the article. A reader informed me.
For a summary of my reply, see the end of this article. I have decided to make no preliminary comments, because I want you to use your reason, not my opinions, to evaluate my criticism of what Father Harrison says.
First, I will thank Father Harrison for attempting to defend his position with words. He holds that Benedict is certainly no longer the pope. By expressing his thoughts in words the entire Church is given the opportunity to assess the value of his argument. This is so unlike 100% of the College of Cardinals and 99.99% of the Bishops and 99.999% of the priests.
I invite you to obtain a copy of the magazine and read his article so you can avail yourself of this rare opportunity to, as it were, look into the mind of a priest who names Pope Francis daily in the Canon of the Mass.
I will only outline the argument and comment, here, as my reply.
Second, I thank the editor of the Latin Mass Magazine for admitting the controversy exists. This controversy became heated in November 2018. So to discuss it in his magazine nearly 20 months later, is the very least a sign that the controversy has not gone away. This is so unlike 99% of all Catholic publications, which have neither the courage nor integrity to confront the issue.
However, since those who say Benedict XVI is no longer the pope have had 20 months to put their arguments together, every reader of Father Harrison’s article should expect the best of all arguments.
So here is my running commentary on the argument presented in his article.
Resignationists, p. 12
At the beginning of his article, Father Harrison explains that he will slur all his opponents with a name: resignationists. This is really not necessary, and quite uncharitable. For as Aristotle says, when a man fails to have a rational argument for his position he begins with insults (ad hominem arguments). And to do that at the beginning of your article sends the wrong message.
But in his haste to insult his opponents, he has made a logical error. Because it is he who holds that Benedict has resigned, and his opponents who hold that he has not resigned. This oversight, at the very beginning, makes us wonder whether Father Harrison wrote this article in a calm thoughtful state of mind, without excessive anger or passion.
Frame the Discussion, p. 12
The first honest way to enter a debate is not to open by saying that those who disagree with you are psychologically of doubtful sanity or suffer from psychosis (inability to accept reality). But that is what Father Harrison does, by saying that the thesis of his opponents hold an opinion which disagrees with 5000 less 2 Bishops and 100% of the Cardinals. Therefore, he argues you should dismiss it on grounds that the world considers it improbable.
This is not the proper way to argue. Since truth is not determined by a vote, the truth can be that which the majority might disagree with. But also, Father is arguing ex silentio. Because clearly 99% of the Church has never examined the evidence for or against the validity of the Papal resignation. So that they hold any opinion is not evidence of anything other than that the hearsay is that the Pope has resigned and that the vast majority did not think to question the hearsay. That proves nothing about the truth, it only makes an observation about the power of the mass media and political networks to convince the masses that something is true, whether it be true or not. I think we can all admit that the Media has this power, as we have just come out of a lock down for a winter flu!
Moreover, just as we would not build a sound argument as to whether the world is flat or a globe, based on the opinion of 99% of the population, because in one age, that was thought to be the truth, which in another age was thought to be false, so in all other things, we do not judge what is true based on opinions of those who do not know, but guess.
Father Harrison by opening his article with such an argument is saying that those who have never investigated and who cannot know the facts, because of their failure to investigate, should be taken, before we investigate, as the presumptive possessors of the truth. That is simply absurd, as it is the principle of thought in highly ignorant and primitive pre-scientific societies.
If Father really believes in such a principle, it is a wonder what he believes about many other affairs in which 99% have not the expertise to know the facts, laws or scientific principles which regard it.
When one argues, one should begin with the strongest of arguments. And so we must assume that Father Harrison has done exactly that, and move on to his other arguments.
But Benedict is not ignorant, pp. 12-13
Next Father Harrison argues, that since Benedict is not ignorant, then what he intended or did is what I think he intended or did, because otherwise what he intended or did would be stupid or erroneous.
That is a good argument to use while you are shaving in the bathroom all alone, but I assure you it does not convince anyone outside your bathroom.
What is necessary for a pope to renounce his office (munus)?, p. 13
Next Father Harrison opens by framing the question thus. And he shows that he does not even know Latin, by calling the office by the Latin word munus. I admit that if one has been reading the Code of Canon Law according to the English translation widely found on the internet, this can happen. I committed the same blunder in my Scholastic Question. But munus does not mean office, as any dictionary of the Latin language will tell you. And though in Canon 145 §1 it says that every officium is a munus, according to the rules of logic, that does not mean that the word munus translates as office. Just as if you said, that “Every dog is a living animal”, it does not mean that in the sentence, “Homo est animal vivens” you can replace animal vivens with dog. (For those who do not read Latin, that Latin sentence says, “A man is a living animal”).
But rather than discuss here what the word munus means, he launches into the second half of Canon 332 §2 and puts off the crucial argument to the end. Which is a really bad way to argue, since your first arguments will have no foundation in fact or law if you have not yet admitted what you hold about the nature of the act which the canon requires. Even Our Lord told us what will happen with those who build on sand, so I do not have to repeat His teaching.
Did Pope Benedict XVI resign freely?, p. 13
The first argument should be whether Pope Benedict resigned, and then having proven that, whether he did so freely and with due manifestation. That would be to argue logically and according to the order of words in Canon 332 §2.
But Father Harrison does not do that. He begins with the debate over liberty. His argument is basically, that those who say the renunciation was not free are presuming, as there is no conclusive evidence. I am surprised at this point that Father Harrison wants to look at evidence, since he told us at the beginning of his article that we must presume that that what 99% of everyone who have not investigated hold a thing to be, is what we should presume a thing to be. Why should we investigate whether the act is free or not? if we are to begin with such presumptions? He does not say.
As for what criterion must be met to establish a canonical act to be free, Father Harrison does not cite any canonical principal. He also does not distinguish between the freedom to do one thing and the freedom to do another. That Pope Benedict XVI says in his Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013 that he freely declares does not mean that he was free to do that which I think he meant, when I close my eyes to what words he actually said. That would be to transfer his claim of liberty in what he said, to my claim of what he meant by what he said. And that is simply incorrect. Nor does it mean that if he freely declares, that which he declared he did freely, just as if a man says, “I freely declare that I will vote for Trump,” does not mean that he will vote for Trump or has voted for Trump.
I would like to see a canonical reference to what constitutes liberty in a canonical act. I think as of yet this is one of the great weaknesses in the discussion.
For transparency, I admit that I presume an act to be free, unless its author says otherwise at any time. But I only hold to be free the act which he specified, not any acts which I believe he may have or might have wanted to posit. I think in the presence of a lack of further information this is the only sound position.
Father Harrison closes this section by appealing to the principle that those who assert the act was not free are the ones who need to prove their assertion. This is a good principle of argumentation, and I recommend that Father Harrison think to apply it to his own argument. Because, as it is he who says that Benedict is not the pope, when he in fact agrees with the whole Catholic world that Benedict was validly elected as the Pope, it is the duty of Father Harrison TO PROVE CONCLUSIVELY that Benedict XVI is NO LONGER the pope, before we accept anything he says. He has not done this, so you can judge the solidity of his arguments on that forensic basis.
Did Pope Benedict XVI duly manifest what he did?, pp. 13-14.
Father Harrison also holds that the act was duly manifested. He seems to not know what the canonical term, rite, means, as he makes no reference to the law. But in substance he argues as if it means what it does mean, namely, that the Pope make his act known in the presence of at least two Bishops, and does so most properly before the body which elected him, the Cardinals. I agree that this was done, but it is immaterial if you do not address WHAT the pope did, because, if a pope rite manifests that he declares the Moon made of cheese, you cannot rightly judge the canonical value of his act without considering whether the Moon is really made of cheese or not, and whether the Pope has the authority to make such a declaration or not. This is obvious. A child can see it.
Did Pope Benedict XVI renounce that which he had to renounce?, p. 14
Father Harrison frames the core question within the context of a due manifestation. This is not precise, but adequate for purposes of debate.
He opens his argument by saying that munus and ministerium mean basically the same thing, as all dictionaries of Ecclesiastical Latin show. I do not know which dictionaries he uses, so I cannot judge his statement. I know how to use Latin Dictionaries, as I have translated more than 9000 pages of medieval Latin. In my opinion his appeal to dictionaries is a bad argument, even if dictionaries were uniform — which they are not — since dictionaries are uniformly inaccurate and full of errors. Only one who really uses many dictionaries and who has precisely studied the Latin of one epoch knows how to avoid such errors and how many errors there are. Moreover, even if a dictionary has among the many meanings of a word, the same meaning as those meanings which are found under the heading of another Latin word, THAT DOES NOT MEAN that in any given sentence or writing, in which both words appear, that the author intended to use them in the same sense. This should be obvious. Otherwise, every author talking about how his dog got upset and bit the surface of a tree, would not be able to be understood as to what he was referring with the word, “bark”. If Father Harrison really wants us to believe and accept his principle for verbal interpretations, I think he is joking with us.
But more importantly, Father Harrison seems to be entirely ignorant of Canon 17, which is discussed frequently in this debate. Because in Canon 17 it does not cite dictionaries as a source to be used to understand the meaning of any term in Canon Law. Father Harrison must know of canon 17, as everything I write refers to it frequently. As he will next directly name me in his article, he cannot be ignorant of it. Therefore his omission of reference to this Canon should be understood as a BIG SIGN that he knows his argumentation would fail if he opened that can of worms, as we say.
It was Benedict’s indisputable intention, p. 14
After accusing Catholics of presuming that Benedict did not have the intention to resign, without evidence, Father Harrison opens his argument about munus and ministerium by asserting as a principle, that Benedict indisputably intended to use both words synonymously. But though he asserts this and repeats it, he gives no proof.
As a translator, I know that is the wrong way to approach any text. First, you see how the words are used, and second you argue from what is clear. But you certainly never say that when an author uses different words, that it is certain he intended to mean the same thing. Such a principle is not even rational, and it is certainly not one which comes from a mind which seeks to precisely know the causes of every variation in a text. What more can I say, than that it is a weak argument, because once again, Father Harrison wants us to take him as the authority on what Benedict intended, even though he has argued well that those who make assertions must prove them, and as we will see in the following, he never proves this assertion, he just keeps referring to it. Thus, he argues as if the rule of proof does not apply to himself, only to his opponents. And that is a very bad way to argue, because it makes you appear intellectually conceited.
Furthermore, his argument is bad forensics. For it is like the argument, “If you keep your eyes closed you will see that there is no evidence in this room of a murder”. For, Father Harrison first wants to convince us not to look at the evidence by running at us with an argument which takes him as the authority that there is no evidence to see.
The Pope meant munus when he said ministerium because…, pp. 14-15.
Beside repeating that self-referential principle, Father Harrison advances an old argument, which I summarize thus: Since what Pope Benedict XVI says in his Declaratio, contains words which follow the renunciation of ministerium, which only would in fact have effect IF he renounced munus, then we must read ministerium as if it were munus.
This is one of the strongest arguments that can be mustered for the validity of the renunciation. I say, strongest, because it seems strong to those who do not think about it. It was the very hermenutic that I held for 5 years, when I did not think about it.
But if we use comparisons, we can see that it is not an argument at all. And this is the proper way to begin to think about it.
Here are some examples of what humans can say and whether this principle of interpreting words which are prior in a sentence by words which follow in a sentence is a valid way of reading a sentence. Take these 3 examples:
I went to the mechanic to fetch my car after its repairs, so that my wife would not invite me to play bridge with her friends.
I went to do my weekly shopping at the supermarket, so that I would not miss out on my haircut.
I am going to renounce eating bananas, so that the see of Peter becomes vacant.
In the first sentence, we see that what follows in the second half of the sentence refers to a condition which the speaker wanted to avoid, but it does not explain why his car needed repairs, only his cause for doing a necessary thing at that moment. If one argued that the game of bridge caused the meaning of the first half of the sentence, and not merely indicated an occasion which the speaker wanted to evade, you would end up concluding that the car needing repairs had something more to do with the game of cards, which is patently absurd.
In the second sentence, we see that there is something which the speaker leaves unexplained. And we the readers are left to conjecture as to why the speaker has put both thoughts together. We might postulate that the barbershop is near the supermarket or along the way to or from it, but that would be pure supposition. We are left not knowing the intention of the speaker and it would be clear that we could not really know it without asking him. If we assume anything, it is clear that we are adding data which is not contained in the statement, and by doing so might end up with a totally unfounded conclusion, based on our erroneous supposition and interpretation.
In the third sentence, we are confronted with something which is inexplicable, because we recognize that there is no rational cause why renouncing bananas has to do with vacating the Apostolic See. If we assume that which follows in the second half of the sentence requires that the word, bananas, means the papal office, then we are clearly being irrational and unjust in our interpretation. And if anyone tried this, he surely would be laughed at.
But Father Harrison commits this same blunder. If his key argument that what Benedict intended to do requires us to read ministerium as munus, then he must be honest to admit that that is his interpretation, and that if there be no rational reason why a renouncing of service leads to a renunciation of office, then his argument is unjust and irrational itself, and thus should be laughed at.
Father Harrison does not address the relationship between ministerium and munus, where he admits such words might mean two different things. But if he needs help, he only needs to examine the facts of history throughout the whole world in recent months.
For the Bishops of the world renounced their priestly ministry to the faithful during the lockdown. Thus if a renunciation of ministry leads causally and necessarily to the renunciation of munus, then the Bishops are no longer our superiors. Does Father Harrison actually believe that? And if he does NOT, why does he think such an argument is valid to kick Benedict out, but not kick out his own Bishop?
Footnote 10, p. 14
But as Father Harrison cites my Scholastic Question in footnote 10, of this his argument, I will respond to his objection there. He says that since Benedict uses ita ut, not simply ut, my objection regarding ut, does not apply. He seems to think that ita ut and ut are two different phrases in Latin, generically different, that is, of two different genera. He has evidently never studied Latin grammar, since ut is a conjunction and ita is an adverb, and thus, the phrase ita ut is a species of an ut clause. What I have said, that an ut phrase indicates a goal but does not necessarily achieve that goal is in no way undone by Father Harrison’s gratuitous assertion that ita ut does introduce a clause which alters the meaning of the main sentence, because if you do that which Father Harrison is fond of — use a Latin dictionary — you will see that “ita” when used as an adverbial particle means “so much”. So Father is saying that in the sentence,
I declare that I renounce bananas so much that (ita ut) the see of St. Peter will be vacant.
the use of ita ut produces the vacancy of the See. If that is his argument, I think all humanity would disagree.
Actually, however, having read 9000 pages of Latin and written a Latin Grammar, I can tell you that ita ut can only be translated as “so much that,” when that which precedes is capable of quantification.
Such as in the sentence:
I walked so much that I began to feel very tired.
And since no amount of renouncing service causes the loss of an office, since these two things are not quantitative measures of one another — service being exercise, and office being that which is exercised — you cannot read ita ut as “so much that,” if you still want us to consider you a rational being, arguing in good faith.
But Father Harrison ignores this glaring inconsistency, and moves on and says…
A Certain Br. Alexis Bugnolo, p. 15
Well, I thank Father Harrison for naming me, even if he does so as if I were a certain species to be on guard against. In English it is a denigration to put “certain” in front of a persons name. But since he also prefaces this by calling me a resignationist, I will suppose that 2 insults to introduce me is a psychological way to warn those readers who want to be mind controlled by Father Harrison, that I am a dangerous individual and that all should accept what Father Harrison says of me, and not consider or investigate further!
I am reminded of certain thought control institutions of the Soviet Union — but I digress.
Here are Father’s actual words:
The resignationist who insists most emphatically, and in the most detail, that regardless of the Pope’s own intentions, formally renouncing the ministerium, but not the munus, will not leave Peter’s See vacant, is a certain Brother Alexis Bugnolo. So what is his proof that ministerium can never be used canonically as a synonym for munus? He tells us: “This can be seen from its use in the Headings of the New Code for canon 145 §1, where every ecclesiastical office is called a munus, not a ministerium.”11 Well, that is true of c. 145, but throughout the subsequent 51 canons in this section,12 “every ecclesiastical office” is called an officium not a munus.
Here, I have to laugh. Because Father Harrison counters my assertion which regards the predication of officium with munus, with the assertion that the English translation has office for the Latin word munus. Does he think that is an argument?
I am talking about the Latin text, and he is talking about the relationship between the English and Latin texts. That does not disprove what I say. To disprove what I say, you would have to find in those next 51 canons a Latin sentence which connects the noun ministerium with officium, or vice versa, with the Latin verb esse, to be. Because that is what predication is, the connection of two nouns with the verb to be. And since every definition is founded upon a predication, if you cannot find such a sentence, your argument that the two words mean the same thing HAS ABSOLUTELY NO FOUNDATION IN THE TEXT NOR IN LOGIC.
But perhaps Father really does not understand things of this kind. I wonder if he has ever read a treatise on Logic or on Grammar. He does cite my Scholastic Question, so he has read something about both.
Next after making several sweeping assertions without any proof, he accuses me of his own sin, saying that I make a sweeping assertion regarding the whole of Canon Law on the meaning of munus and ministerium. While it is true I make such an assertion in my Scholastic Question, that the assertion is global, and affirmative does not make it unfounded, since I had already studied the Code before making it, and since at the academic conference in October 2019, here at Rome, I demonstrated it textually and conclusively. But perhaps Father Harrison did not know that. (see here: https://fromrome.info/2019/10/31/munus-and-ministerium-a-canonical-study/). I therefore make a quite founded assertion. And if anyone reads that study he will see that ministerium never means munus in the Code of Canon law of 1983, and that canon 17 requires us to accept that as the teaching of the Magisterium on this debate.
Father Harrison attempts to refute that conclusion by saying that Canon Law does exactly what I say it never does. He quotes Book III, title 2 of the Code, but cites no canon. As I can find no canon there which says a ministerium is a munus, I do not know how to respond to Father Harrison’s implicit assertion that I am ignorant or a liar. His accusation is grave, and he should have cited his proof. What Father Harrison is arguing, is that since this section begins with the Title, De divini verbi ministerio, that all the occurrences of munus in this section are to be read as ministerium.
As I said before, a definition is founded upon a predication, which is a sentence in which two nouns are conjoined by the verb, to be, in one of its forms, in the present tense.
What Father Harrison has done is created a new unheard of definition of a definition. According to him, if a noun appears in a title of any text, any word in that text which he says means the same thing as the noun, means the same thing as that noun. This means, in the world of Father Harrison, everyone who has ever written a dictionary, will now have to appeal to his infallible authority to determine which nouns mean the same thing as the nouns in the titles of every text. Father has a a lot of work a head of him, and I wish him a long life to fulfill it. But as for the reason of us who know that his argument is grasping for straw, we can see that such a rule of interpretation is simply a gratuitous assertion posing as infallible principle, to do that which no human has ever done in history.
The common sense way to read a text defies Father Harrison. Because, titles tell us the general topic of the text which follows, and in that text there can be many names and nouns for things related to the topic, not all of them are or have to be the definitions of the nouns in the title. To prove this, pick up any book and read the Title and then open it.
Father follows up this argument, by saying that the ministries of lector an acolyte are offices. I think he is thinking of the Code of 1917, in which both are minor orders. The offices of acolyte and lector were abolished in the new Code. They are now only ministries, which is why a woman can fulfill the duties of each, under certain circumstances. So his argument that the fulfillment of their duty is called ministeria in the Code does not mean that the Code holds them to be munera by definition. Father is also ignoring the meaning of words — he has been doing this the entire time — since every munus has a ministerium, we should expect that when the Code speaks of the ministry of the clergy to preach, that it will first refer to their munus of teaching. So his argument proves nothing at all. Nay, since as I said, that every office is a munus, does not prove that every munus is an office. So even if there are liturgical munera which are exercises as ministeria, that does not prove they are the same thing, because the title to authority which is an office is not the work done to fulfill the duty of that office, as every sane person can see. As I explained in my 7 part documentary (see here), munus is used to describe liturgical duties in the presence of a priest because the priest has a munus sanctificandi and he coopts minor orders to assist him in this duty at Mass; therefore, the munera being exercised are not theirs, but his. That is why they exercise a ministry properly speaking and can even do so stably, but properly speaking have no munus. This is not difficult to understand.
His clear and correctly expressed intention, p. 15
Father Harrison then moves on to a discussion of substantial error in the act of resignation. His basic argument is that the Pope is not stupid, and I hold that he was stupid if he did anything other than validly resign the papal office, therefore he did validly resign. — This is another of those arguments that might come to you while shaving, but I recommend you leave it in the bathroom.
But more importantly, Father has misrepresented Canon 332, which in no part of it speaks of the necessity of having the proper intention as a condition of validity or as the definition of the essence of the act. This is because Canon Law regards things in the external forum. What the pope intended cannot be a source of the validity of the act, because, since what he intended is secret and known to God alone, no act of resignation could ever be certain if right intention was required as a cause of its validity. Also, intentions when judged by others are often misjudged. Thus Father Harrison is taking a criterion upon which he asserts his infallible authority to judge to close off consideration of the fact that a juridical act must be judged by external evidence alone, or else no certitude can be had about what it does or does not mean.
Here we arrive at a fundamental point: that a papal resignation is invalid does not mean any grave fault upon anyone, per se. It can simply be an error in the Latin. However, the Code of Canon Law which Pope John Paul II published and which remains the law of the Church which alone judges the act of the man who is the pope, requires that the man who is the pope objectively signify that which the code requires him to signify in a papal renunciation. Lacking munus or any other word which canonically necessarily means munus, means the act is defective. What is the problem with such an approach? You would only argue against that if you benefit in some way from the error.
In the next 2 and one half pages, Father Harrison rails against those who argue that Benedict has acted for 7 years as one who has retained something of the papal authority. His position is that since there can be Bishops emeriti, there can be Popes emeriti. But as there is nothing in Canon law about a pope emeritus, here again, we must have recourse to Father Harrison’s infallible ability to interpret everything and conclude that he is completely unquestionable in his argument (I am being sarcastic). The most eminent canonists of Rome have argued from the first week of March, 2013, that there is no such status as a pope emeritus and that Benedict must stop wearing white, calling himself, the Pope, signing with his Papal Name, and the P.P., and giving Papal blessings. So evidently there are some who think differently than Father Harrison on this point.
Father Brian Harrison has presented us with the argument of a priest, who names Pope Francis in the canon of the Mass, and who has developed a long litany of excuses for his own behavior. The principles of his argument are self contradictory, illogical, irrational, and in many cases involve principles of interpretation which he has invented for this argument. He has employed every tactic of the nominalist to prove his case, resorting to the most sordid forms of argumentation and logic. In such wise, he has given everyone who does not want to find the truth reasons not to think.
But, thankfully, in doing so, he has give all rational men a strong motive to doubt that anyone at all who holds that Pope Francis is the Pope, after investigating the evidence of history and the requirements of the law, is truly honest or rational.
Contrariwise, he has negatively proven that LOGIC, REASON, GRAMMAR, AND LAW ALL TESTIFY THAT BENEDICT IS THE POPE! Since to argue his case, he chose to attack all four of these. All Catholics therefore who understand that our Faith requires us to accept logic, reason, grammar and Church Law, thus can conclude that Father Harrison’s argument comes from the ancient serpent who wishes us to destroy our minds, our speech and live lawlessly. And that is the spirit of the man of Sin, whose time is rapidly approaching.
I therefore conclude, that Benedict XVI is the pope, since he remains such unless it can be proven he is no longer such. That is my duty as a Catholic. And I invite you to be dutiful Catholics.
Viva Papa Benedetto!
Watch my 7 part documentary proving that Benedict XVI is still the pope, which I published at Easter this year, at >
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Egregio Direttore Tarquinio,noto con dispiacere che, di fronte al mio recente articolo su Libero, pur argomentato e circostanziato, circa la rinuncia di papa Benedetto (https://www.liberoquotidiano.it/articolo_blog/blog/andrea-cionci/23247982/benedetto-xvi-ratzinger-rinuncia-bergoglio-declaratio-2013-dimissioni-abdicazione-munus-ministerium-bugnolo.html) in cui esponevo da un lato degli incontestabili dati di fatto, dall’altro le interessanti e coraggiose posizioni del latinista Frà Alexis Bugnolo, il Vostro collega Gianni Gennari mi ha oggi sostanzialmente – e cristianamente – dato dell’imbecille, guardandosi bene dal cercare di capire la questione e dimostrandosi incapace di ribattere con argomentazioni a tono. Un boomerang, direi, per Avvenire e, purtroppo, di riflesso, anche per l’Istituzione che rappresenta. Un errore comunicativo da matita blu, se mi permetti: i Vostri lettori potrebbero, infatti, incuriosirsi. Magari vanno a leggere Libero, vedono che quanto riportato è esposto in un chiaro italiano, con fatti oggettivi e argomentazioni – che si possono discutere, ma che hanno una loro coerenza – e poi tornano a leggere i “sorrisi di sufficienza” del Vostro collega.Vista così, sembra la conferma della solita strategia difensiva di chi non ha argomenti, né reale e sincero interesse per la verità: delegittimazione dell’interlocutore, derisione “snob” e insulto personale, accuratamente evitando di affrontare il merito del discorso. Un modo di fare “vecchio” e ormai riconoscibilissimo che, temo, non porterà a risultati produttivi.Da parte mia, piena disponibilità a collaborare con Voi, per discutere insieme argomentazioni logiche alternative a quelle di frà Bugnolo, il quale è ben disposto, da parte sua, a pubblicare una replica sul Vostro giornale, nell’interesse esclusivo dei lettori e della ricerca della verità. Saremmo tutti rassicurati se la realtà fosse diversa da quella, agghiacciante, prospettata da frà Bugnolo.Saluti cordiali, anche al collega Gennari.
The Catholic Faith does not come from laymen talking about opinions on YouTube. It comes from Jesus Christ, through the Apostles in Apostolic Tradition down throught the ages.
Recently a discussion has begun in the English speaking world as to whether a Roman Pontiff, in his capacity as Successor of Saint Peter, can separate the Office of Peter from the Church of Rome, such that the Bishop of Rome not be the Sucessor of Saint Peter.
The core of the argument is that the Petrine Office is distinct from the Church of Rome, the two being two distinct and separate realities which are only connected by history.
Dr. Taylor Marshal has listed the historical positions, which I think he has divided badly. So here I will divide them according to all possibilitites:
That the two are united by Divine right, that is by the will of God.
That the two are united by Apostolic Tradition.
That the two are united by merely eccleiastical tradition.
That the two are united by merely human tradition.
However, if you stop and think befor jumping into this debate, you will ask yourself the more important questions:
What is the Petrine Office?
What is the Roman Church?
The Petrine Office is by Divine Right, that is, it has its cause in an act of the Divine Will. This is de fide, and is taught at Vatican I. This office is a title to power, authority and jurisdiction which flows from Christ’s Mandate to Simon Bar John, saying: Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I shall build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail over Her.
But if you are a carefuly listener to Jesus Christ, then you just saw the answer to the second question: What is the Roman Church?
Saint Gregory VII in his Dictatus Papae explicates what Christ said, as I reported the other day the very first thesis:
I. Quod Romana ecclesia a solo Domino sit fundata.
I. That the Roman Church has been founded by the Lord alone.
For according to the words of Jesus Christ, HIS CHURCH is the entity founded upon Peter. From this it follows that when the Church was founded on Pentecost Day, the Church which was one and encompassed the entire world by Divine right and jurisdiction, was placed under the care of the Primacy of Saint Peter.
Following Pentecost Day in diverse places by the decision of St. Peter and the Apostles there was detatched from that one jurisdiction of the Church over which Peter ruled diverse local Churches, such as Jerusalem and Antioch which hold local circumscribed and limited jurisdictions.
What does this mean then for the Church of Rome?
Since, the Church of Rome was NEVER detached from the jurisdiction of Saint Peter, and therefore represents the original Church it all Her fullness, grace, authority and power, it follows that the Church of Rome was founded by Jesus Christ alone, as St. Gregory VII teaches. This is confirmed by the unbroken tradition whereby the Church of Rome claims to be founded by St. Peter and to have never had anyone but Saint Peter as its Bishop as its first Bishop.
Therefore, when we approach the question of whether the Petrine Primacy can be separated from the Church of Rome, we must affirm that it cannot be separated for three reasons:
It is by Divine Right that the Office of St. Peter is joined to the Catholic Church, which Church is the Roman Church by nature.
It is by Divine Ordinance that the Office of St. Peter is joined to the Roman Church, inasmuch as the Lord Jesus gave Saint Peter the authority to join his Office to any particular local Church.
It is by Apostolic Right tha the Office of St Peter is joined to the Roman Church, inasmuch as the Apostle Peter freely decided to join his Office to the Roman Church by chosing to die there.
Therefore, it one says that the Office of St. Peter be said to be able to be separated from the Church of Rome he would be denying 3 divinely revealed truths:
That the office of St. Peter was established by Jesus Christ as inseparable from the Catholic Church.
That Jesus Christ gave the Apostles the authority to establish local Churches anywhere in the world.
That Jesus Christ established the Apostles in such authority that their decisions would be upheld by Him forever.
As I showed in my previous post on this, it can be clearly demonstrated from the teaching of Vatican I that it is heretical to say that they can be seperated. The assertion of any theologian to the contray is simply the expression of the error of historicism. Because the infallible teaching of an Ecumenical Council means what it means, even if theologians during or after hold that it means something else.
Historically, it is also a great error to say that an opinion about this matter before Vatican I is licit, when the teaching of Vatican I now demonstrate that it cannot be held. If we used the same error, we could deny the Immaculate Conception defined in 1854 just becuase Saint Thomas Aquinas c. 1265 A. D., disagreed with it.
Therefore, as I said before, it is clearly heretical — that is in its implications — to say that the Church of Rome or the Office of the Bishop of Rome can be separated from the Office of St.. Peter.
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So, the title of this article, since it runs contrary to opinions cited by Dr. Mazza in his recent discussions with Dr. Taylor Marshall and Anne Barnhardt/Mark Docherty, I will lay it out in simple form, without a discussion, to allow you to look directly at the argument in strict logical form.
Heresy is a denial of revealed truth.
Revealed truth contains Scripture and Tradition. (Cf. Vatican I, Session 3, held on April 24, 1870, Dei Filius, in chapter 2, cited here below)
Tradition contains Divine and Apostolic Tradition. (cf. Vatican I, profession of Faith, n. 2, cited here below)
Apostolic Tradition contains both the teaching and the judgements of the Apostles, written and unwritten (Cf. Vatican I, Session 3, held on April 24, 1870, Dei Filius, in chapter 2, cited here below. Cf. also Mt. 19:28, where the judgements of the Apostles are declared by God Himself to be authoritative over the whole Church. This declaration is a divine ordinance.)
The Roman Pontiff is servant of the Deposit of the Faith, not its lord. (Cf. Vatican I, Session 4, chapter 4, n. 6, here below)
Therefore, the Roman Pontiff cannot legitimately act or teach contrary to the Deposit of the Faith.
Therefore, the Roman Pontiff cannot legitimately act or teach contrary to Divine or Apostolic Tradition.
Therefore, the Roman Pontiff cannot legitimately act or teach contrary to Apostolic Tradition.
Therefore, the Roman Pontiff cannot legitimately act or teach contrary to the judgements of the Apostles.
It was a judgement of Saint Peter to die at Rome and entrust his office to the Church of Rome. (Cf. here below, Vatican I, Session 4, in chapter 3, n. 2, where the unity of the Primacy and the Church of Rome is called by divine ordinance, which is a technical term for the Divine Approval of the judgements of the Apostles, who were chosen by the Lord and appointed to their offices and empowered to found the Church)
Therefore, the Successors of Saint Peter cannot legitimately separate the Papal Primacy from the Roman See.
Therefore, those who say that the Successor of Saint Peter can legitimately separate the Papal Primacy from the Roman See speak heresy.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
See my responses to questions posed, in the comment section here below.
Vatican I, Profession of Faith, sworn by all the Council Fathers:
Apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same church I most firmly accept and embrace.
This true catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure  that all others do the same. This is what I, the same Pius, promise, vow and swear. So help me God and these holy gospels of God.
Vatican I, Session 3, held on April 24, 1870, Dei Filius, in chapter 2:
n. 5 Now this supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal church, as declared by the sacred council of Trent, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions, which were received by the Apostles from the lips of Christ himself, or came to the Apostles by the dictation of the holy Spirit, and were passed on as it were from hand to hand until they reached us .
Vatican I, Session 4, held on July 18, 1870, in Chapter 2 teaches infallibly:
n. 5 Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord Himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole church; or that the Roman pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.
Session 4, chapter 3,
n. 2 Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world.
n. 3 In this way, by unity with the Roman pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith, the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd  .
n. 4 This is the teaching of the catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.
Session 4, chapter 4,
n. 6 For the holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.
Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren 
A circular system in which those heading national and international health advisory bodies are also invested in the bigPharma companies that stand to profit from the development of drugs and vaccines. That would be profoundly wrong wouldn’t it? It would involve an intolerable conflict of interest surely? Yes it would, but watch here, its endemic, involves US and UK government advisors and explains why we are where we are. We cannot afford to take this lying down: