Category Archives: Ecclesiology

Father Z’s Dares Righteousness but needs some major guidance

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

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.

His post is entitled, “The Question of Two Pope Bothers a lot of people. Some Thoughts” and it was published on June 29, 2021.

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.

In Conclusion

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.

What does a valid Papal renunciation look like? — St. Celestine V shows the way

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

For more than 8 years Catholics have discussed and debated the  Declaration of Pope Benedict XVI, what it means and the peculiarities of its formulations.

Now after 8 years, it is more and more clear that it is not a Papal Abdication, but only an act of retirement, which renounces service but retains all power, authority, office, title and dignity.

This becomes clearer if we look to what words a canonized Saint, Celestine V, used to renounce the Papacy.

Here is the Latin text of his act, taken from His Papal Bull of December 13, 1294 A. D.:

Ego Caelestinus Papa Quintus motus ex legittimis causis, idest causa humilitatis, et melioris vitae, et coscientiae illesae, debilitate corporis, defectu scientiae, et malignitate Plebis, infirmitate personae, et ut praeteritae consolationis possim reparare quietem; sponte, ac libere cedo Papatui, et expresse renuncio loco, et Dignitati, oneri, et honori, et do plenam, et liberam ex nunc sacro caetui Cardinalium facultatem eligendi, et providendi duntaxat Canonice universali Ecclesiae de Pastore.

Here is my own translation into English:

I, Celestine V, Pope, moved out of legitimate causes, that is, for the sake of humility, and for a better life, and for a wounded conscience, by the debility of body, by the defect of knowledge, and by the malignancy of the plebs, by infirmity of person, and so that I might repair to the quiet of my past consolation: voluntarily, and freely cede the Papacy, and I expressly renounce the position, and Dignity, the burden and honor, and I do give full, and free faculty from hence forth to the sacred assembly of the Cardinals to elect and provide for the Universal Church a Pastor, so long as (it be done) in a canonical manner.

Discussion

Notice how the Saint does not renounce insignificant parts or details of the Papal Office. He does not renounce the execution of his office nor his clothing, because he understands that when you renounce the cause or root of power, you have renounced all rights and duties which flow from it.  Thus he renounces the the position (locus) in which he was placed above all (this is the office), the Dignity, which exalted him above all (this is the superior quality which is inextricable from that), the burden (onus) which is the totality of duty not in its execution but in its imposition — this is one sense  of the munus — and the honor, that is the quality which demands from all other recognition.

Thus he has named all the essential parts of the Papal Office. And he renounces all of them.

That is how to renounce. And a canonized Saint has shown the way.

For anyone to claim therefore, that to say, “I declare to renounce the ministry which I received from the Cardinals”, is sufficient for a papal renunciation, makes a joke of the papacy and a very bad argument.

The Blindness of Canonists just became permanent

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The Antipope recent revised his Code of Canon Law, rejecting that promulgated by Pope John Paul II.  The new anti-Code has an entirely new and unauthorized Penal Code.

The changes will permit the Antipope to start excommunicating and punishing all who oppose them. All who know Bergoglio know his mean and vicious character, but this can be seen even in his new code, where instead of 1 canon on crimes of speech, there are now 2, one of which allows the medieval penalty of interdict. —  I really should not call it a penalty, because being denied sacraments in a heretical and sacrilegious “church” is a blessing, not a penalty.

Among the new punishments, are any criticism or contradiction of any non-definitive teaching of Bergoglio or his Synods.  Before, you could only be punished for speaking against defined doctrine. Now you can be punished for speaking against pronounced politics or heresy.

Welcome to the Church of the Antichrist.

The Status of the Debate on the invalidity of the Renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI

But canonists who refused to read and observe the Code of 1983, are now out of the game. Because by following lies and closing their eyes and ears to the truth, they now follow an false Code which hides even more the evidence.

For one of the reasons for this action was to rewrite or replace Canon 1331, §2, n. 4, which by showing that excommunicated persons could exercise a ministry, demonstrated that the renunciation of a ministerium was possible without loss of any dignity (dignitas), officium (office) or charge (munus).

The new anti-canon 1331, speaks only of power of governance. (here)  The phrase “power of governance” is obviously a fig leaf to hide the concepts of munus and ministerium, one of which is a power and the other which is only a duty.

Indeed, on Dec. 11, 2019, A. D., when I personally spoke for more that 45 minutes with Mons. Arrieta, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legal Texts, I demonstrated irrefutably from that canon that the renunciation was invalid.  To which the Monsignor replied, that they were preparing a revision of the Penal Code and that canon would be “fixed”.

This will make them incapable of participating in the debate and of finding the truth.

But as they have chosen darkness not the light, because the fear that their works of darkness be seen in the light, they have now a new Code to serve as a unbreakable chain to drag them down and keep them down.

The reverse of this is also true. Those of us who remain in communion with Pope Benedict are now free of them even more. And those who know canon law, who are of our number, are now the world experts on the Code of 1983, since we alone believe it remains in force.

Siscoe & Salza attack Bugnolo on Dogmatic Facts — He replies

REPUBLISHED FROM MARCH 9, 2020 A. D.

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I appreciate a good debate, but the attack launched against me personally won’t offer much worthy of attention because it is founded upon a totally incapacity to think. As I will explain.

I am speaking about, Mr. Robert Siscoe and Mr John Salza’s article entitled, Br. Bugnolo Redefines “Dogmatic Facts” to justify Benevacantist schism.

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.

Dogmatic Facts

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:

  1. Fr. E. Sylvester Berry’s book, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise, which was originally published in 1927
  2. Tanquerey, explains dogmatic facts in Vol. I of Dogmatic Theology (1959).
  3. 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.

Legitimacy

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.

Conclusion

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.

+ + +

If you do not want to be damned, please admit TODAY that you have been hoodwinked

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The whole Catholic world knows and accepts that Pope Benedict XVI was elected canonically and accepted his election on April 19, 2005 A. D..

And everyone knows that you do not presume that a non-heretical pope is no longer pope, until he dies or has renounced the papacy.

And all Catholics know we are obliged to follow Canon Law.

And if you do not know it by now, I will repeat it for the umpteenth time:  According to Canon 332 §2, the man who is the pope does not renounce the papacy, until he renounces his munus, and renounces that munus freely and in the due manner.

And the whole Catholic world knows that Pope Benedict XVI HAS NEVER RENOUNCED HIS MUNUS.

Therefore, if you were hoodwinked into thinking Benedict XVI is no longer the pope or resigned the papacy, because you watch TV or read websites, but did not know of the points of fact and law I just cited, please have the integrity to admit you were hoodwinked.

Because though a person can fall into error through being fooled or being ignorant, THE DECISION TO REMAIN IN ERROR after the facts have been shown to you, DOES IN FACT constitute a mortal sin of pertinacity in a lie, which merits indubitably ETERNAL DAMNATION.

Tomorrow is the 16th anniversary of the canonical election of Pope Benedict XVI and the 16th anniversary of his ongoing Pontificate.  If you do not want to go to Hell, then join with true Catholics in celebrating it, and stop attending liturgies of those who want or do not fear to go to Hell, naming Bergoglio as the Pope.

¡Viva Guadalajara!

REPUBLISHED FROM DEC. 11, 2019

Written in Socratic jest for Mons. Juan Ignacio Arrieta,
Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Legal Texts,

and presented viva voce by Br. Bugnolo to him in person on that morning.

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

In the conclave of 2243, the Cardinals of the Roman Church, in their final votation, elected a Spaniard.

So, according to the rules established by Pope John Paul II, on February 22, 1996, in the document Universi Dominici Gregis, n. 87, the Cardinal Deacon, the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and the Master of Ceremonies for Pontifical Liturgies approach the Spanish Cardinal and ask him in these solemn words if he will accept his election:  Do you accept your canonical election as the Supreme Pontiff?

Silence.

Then the Cardinal Deacon signals with his eyes to the Elected Cardinal, asking for an answer.

The Cardinal Elect, smiles, then extends both hands to each side and forms the V sign. With that he says in a clear voice: ¡Viva Guadalajara!

The Spanish Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, familiar with the jocularity of the Elected Cardinal, giggle. The Cardinal from Barcelona says to himself, “What a joker! But this is not a time for laughs!”

The Secretary of the College gives a stern look at the Cardinal Elect. He is not amused at this kind of levity. So he turns to the Cardinal Deacon, who is perplexed, and whispers: “Let’s ask him again”.

So the aged Cardinal Deacon, turns to the Cardinal Elect, and asks again, this time in Spanish: ¿Acepta su elección canónica como Sumo Pontífice?

Silence.

Then, the Cardinal Elect, answers: raising both his right and left hand as before, and making the V sign with each, he says: ¡Viva Guadalajara! — This time with an even bigger smile on his face.

At this point, the Cardinals break their silence, and mixed mutterings of insouciance and consternation.

The Cardinal Deacon, now impatient, says to the Cardinal Elect: “This is no time to make jokes. Please answer the question with a Yes or a No”. Then recomposing himself, he repeats the canonical question, this time in Italian: Accetti la tua elezione canonica a Sommo Pontefice?

And again, the Cardinal Elect responds in the same manner.

At this point, the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel break out in small groups of conversation. Everyone is trying to figure out what the Cardinal Elect means to say. The Spanish Cardinals approach the Elect and attempt to reason with him. But he says nothing futher. All he does is keep smiling and raising his right and left hand now and then with the V sign, for victory.

So in accord with the Papal Law on Conclaves, UDG, n. 5, the Cardinal from Paris asks that the College discuss and decide what is to be done, since the Papal Law says nothing about the manner in which the Cardinal Elect is to accept the office, whether it be by a Yes or No or by some other sign.

Two factions arise among the Cardinals. On the one side, a minority hold that the Cardinal Elect, by the words used has not accepted his election and must be considered either in error or mad. On the other side, the position taken is that of the Cardinal of Mexico City, who reasons this way: There is no more certain a manner of indicating that one has accepted the dignity of a prince than to respond in a manner which requires his listeners to acquiesce to his authority. Now by responding in this manner, does not the Cardinal Elect clearly show his intent to act like a prince? And therefore, his intention to accept the election? Is he not just putting our loyalty to the test? I for one will not fail in my loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff in this his first act of office!

This line of reasoning wins over the majority and they vote to regard the manner of speech chosen by the Cardinal Elect as meaning, “Yes, I accept”.

The Cardinal Deacon, then approaches the Cardinal Elect and asks him by which name he wants to be known. He replies, “Ignazio I”.

And years pass. And there is nothing controversial in the pontificate of Ignatius the First. Not in the least.

Except for this one thing.

Every time journalists manage to get an interview with him, and they ask him about the moment of his election as Pope, they ask him what he said, and he says: ¡Viva Guadalajara!

About 6 years into his reign as pope, one journalist, by the name of Marco Tosatti III, wanting to understand this better, asks a very specific question of Pope Ignatius I, during a plan trip.

Tosatti III: I know, your Holiness, has been asked this same question many times. And we are all impressed by your talent for humor and your jocundity, which is so unique among the Popes. But the day of your election, if I may ask again, can you tell just what you said, when the Cardinal Deacon asked you if you would accept your canonical election?

Ignatius I: I said, ¡Viva Guadalajara!

Tosatti III: Is that all you said?

Ignatius I: Yes.

Tosatti III: Did you not say, Yes?

Ignatius I: No, I never said Yes or No. I simply said, ¡Viva Guadalajara!

Marco Tosatti III publishes his interview and it goes round the world. The Pope never said yes.

A few days later, another Italian Vaticanista, by the name of Sandro Magister V, obtains an interview with the aged Cardinal Deacon, who confirms the story: Yes, he never said, yes. In fact there was a controversy in the Conclave, and now that Pope Ignatius I has abolished the pontifical secret on his election, I can reveal that we held a vote in accord with Universi Dominici Gregis, n. 5, and we determined that canonically speaking, this phrase, ¡Viva Guadalajara! would be taken to mean, “yes, I accept”.

Magister V also publishes his interview, which causes even more of an uproar and travels round the world.

About two weeks later, an old lady from the suburb of Madrid, Spain, where Pope Ignatius I grew up, flys to Rome and enters the Piazza of St Peter with a sign, saying, “He is not the Pope!” The Gendarmerie, the Vatican Police, attempt to take the sign from her, there is a scuffle and they end up punching her and she punching them back. Eventually they take both her and the sign away.

But the pilgrims in the piazza photograph and video record the entire travesty and these images go world wide on all social media platforms.

The next day in all the majors newspapers and MSM sites the one topic is why they beat up this poor old women. And the journalists who are allowed to interview her in the Vatican jail all receive the same statement, prepared by her attorney: In my suburb of Madrid, where I grew up with Pope Ignatius I, the phrase, ¡Viva Guadalajara! has always meant, “You got to be kidding. I would no more agree to that than support the team from Guadalajara, by shouting ¡Viva Guadalajara! at a soccer match with our own team!”

At this news, journalists flock to Madrid, Spain and interview all those they can find who knew the Pope as a child or youngster. And they all agree that what this old lady said is the absolute truth.

And these journalists report what they find. And, the next day, Ignatius I gives an interview and says: You see, there is nothing I hate more that arrogance and sycophantry. So when I saw that there were no worthy candidates for the Papacy, I determined to do what I could to delay as much as possible the Conclave, so the most unworthy ones would be taken by the Lord or not be able to vote, having reached the age of 80. So I contrived the deception I used to fool everyone. And it worked. But now that my purpose has achieved its goal, I willing admit that I was never pope, because I never accepted my election as the Supreme Pontiff. Therefore, I will now stop pretending to be pope and go back to Madrid and enjoy my final years of life by drinking cerveza and watching the Madrid Soccer team. Good-bye and Adios!

_____________

The Limits of Discretion

So ends the fictional canonical case I have created. As you can see, strange things can happen if the discretion which we Catholics traditionally accord to the Cardinals goes beyond all limits. There are just some things they cannot do even if they want to.

One thing they cannot do, even if they want to, regards the interpretation of verbal texts. As a translator of medieval texts, I understand well that there are 3 ways of determining the meaning of any obscure phrase. The first is intrinsic, the second extrinsic and the third is referential.

Intrinsic methods look to the meaning of the words used and their grammatical structure. Extrinsic methods look to the context in which the phrase is used and impose a theory about what the intent was in the author’s mind in using the obscure phrase. Referential methods look for other occurrences of the same obscure phrase in the writings of the same author, his contemporaries or those authors he read or cited.

And as a translator, I have learned the hard way, that the worse method of interpretation is the extrinsic method. The intrinsic method can be used but it requires great discretion and a good knowledge of the author one is reading. The referential method is the most certain but one has to take into account that every author might use standard phrases slightly differently.

¡Viva Guadalajara!

As can be seen from the fictional case I have constructed, grave error can arise when the ones who should be interpreting the meaning of things said by the Pope use the extrinsic method, by adopting the context of the phrase and some theory of what the intention was of the one saying it, and from these two data points extrapolate the meaning of the phrase.

This has been no idle study. And though you may find this story humorous, that is not my intention. Because though it regards what could happen regarding the very first moment an man becomes the Pope, the same interpretational problem can arise in the very last moment a man is the Pope, that is in an Act of Renunciation.

Because, when a man renounces the papacy, Canon 332 §2 requires that he say something that signifies, In my capacity as Roman Pontiff, I renounce the munus which I received in the Apostolic Succession from Saint Peter, the day I accepted my election as Supreme Pontiff by the College of Cardinals.

The words do not have to be the ones I just wrote, but they have to signify essentially the same thing.

If you say, however, I declare that I renounce the ministry which was entrusted to me through the hands of the Cardinals, the day I was elected, then you have a problem. Because no where in the Code of Canon Law, nor in Canonical Tradition, nor in the mind of Pope John Paul II do we find any clear equation or predication of munus by ministerium. To hold that Pope Benedict’s renunciation of ministry means a renunciation of munus is an interpretation, unfounded in the law. Moreover, the Cardinals and Bishops and Clergy who hold this interpretation have no authority in the law to interpret the Papal Act in this manner.

We need to be adults and admit this problem of interpretation.

And the ones who committed this error have to grow up and stop insisting that we follow them in it. After all, religious extremism does not consist in refusing an error of interpretation. Religious extremism consists in insisting, like ISIS, that we accept their errors of interpretation or else.

CREDITS: the image of the Cathedral of Madrid is taken from the Wikipedia article on the Facade of the Cathedral of Madrid and is used under the wiki commons license described there.

 

How they boldly lie to defend Bergoglio….

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

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.

A Canonical Justification for the Second Synod of Sutri

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

It has been reported that Cardinal Burke has recently remarked that canonists, seeking a solution to the current problem of a patently heretical pope or a dubious papal resignation, have found no canonical way forward in the present juridical system of the Church.

To this alleged assertion, I intend to response with this brief essay, as it becomes all the more clear to a majority of the faithful and bishops who have been paying attention, that Bergoglio was never canonically elected and Benedict never canonically resigned.

First of all, it must be said, that in truth no canonical solution is required, if by “solution” one means putting into practice a special juridical tribunal or making a special appeal to some particular body. This is because, the real and simple solution would be to PUBLICLY simply ask Pope Benedict XVI what he did and intended to do and accept that. — Or as Ann Barnhardt proposes, in the case of Benedict truly thinking by error that the papal dignity can be shared, to rebuke him for his error as St. Paul did St. Peter, and publicly call on him to recognize that — and, as I would add, to renounce the papacy wholly if he no longer wants to be the pope. (Though this must be after some decision is made regarding to the invalidly nominated Cardinals and Bishops, and the invalidly appointed members of the Roman Curia and Vatican government)

But if one means by a ‘canonical’ solution a special event or action to rid the Church of Bergoglio or put an end to the controversies on these matters, then there needs to be a canonical justification for such an action. And that is what I intend to expound, herein.

In the Middle Ages, when the Church was faced with apparently insolvable doubts about discipline, and in particular, about who was the real pope, She convened councils and synods. This is how the Church sought to end the Great Western Schism which began in 1378 when the college of cardinals claimed to have elected in separate conclaves two different men as the Pope. The general council of Constance (1414-1481) was called to end that conflict, and obtained the resignation of the two rivals, and paved the way for the election, by compromise and unanimity of all the real and alleged Cardinals, of Pope Martin V.

Before that at the Synod of Sutri in 1046, the clergy of Rome, to whom there pertained the right of electing the Roman Pontiff, were convened at the request of Henry III, King of Germany, to sort out which if any of the three claimants to the papacy: Silvester III, Benedict IX or Gregory VI were the pope.  That Synod deposed all three, and paved the way for the election of Pope Clement II on the vigil of Christmas of that year.

The Church has always accepted as canonical, valid and legitimate, the actions of both of these synods. And that establishes the precedent upon which an argument for a future synod, after the manner of that of Sutri in 1046 can be made.

The first problem, however, is that in the present Code of Canon Law, synods and councils are called and convoked by the Pope.  It expressly says in canon 344, that “A Synod of bishops is directly beneath the authority of the Roman Pontiff, to whom it belongs, n. 1, to convoke the synod, howsoever often it seems to be opportune, and to designate the place where its meetings are to be held”. Indeed, both at Constance and Sutri both or at least one of the rival claimants to the papacy convoked the meetings.

Since it is unlikely that Bergoglio would ever convene such a synod, and while it remains unlikely that Benedict would be allowed to publicly call for such a convocation, there remains to consider other arguments to justify such an assembly.

These can be classified into two categories: arguments from divine right or ex iure divino; arguments from necessity or by natural right.  Both categories have supreme authority, inasmuch as the divine and natural laws are both promulgated by God, the former in the Gospels and the latter in creation.

I will begin with a consideration of natural right, which is the weaker of the argument, inasmuch as it is more indirect.

The necessity of the Church requires that it have a government which is united. The existence of two popes makes that unity impossible.  Since the subjects of every society have the right to know the identity of their government, the Church has a corresponding duty to Her members to not delay to identify Her own earthly head in a public declaratory manner.

As for divine right, there are several arguments which could be advanced.  the first is that the highest law of the Church is the promotion of the salvation of souls. And since no one can be saved who is not subject to the Roman Pontiff, as Pope Boniface VIII magisterially taught in his bull, Unam Sanctam, it is a practical necessity of all the faithful to be subject to the true pope. And hence the Church is gravely obligated, in all her members, to put to rest such a doubt with an authoritative declaration.  This is the argument of natural right raised to the level of the supernatural.

The second argument from divine right is that the unity of the Church requires the unity of the clergy. And since there can be no unity unless the clergy recognize the same man as the Roman Pontiff, it is of divine right that the clergy have the right to know who is the true pope and thus of the Church to given them a public authoritative declaration of the fact.

The third argument from divine right is that the Bishops of the Church, inasmuch as they are successors of the Apostles, while they each have a duty towards their own flocks, nevertheless all share in the duty of being responsible for the government of the whole Church universally, and that in the case of an Apostolic See impeded by doubt about who is and who is not the real pope, they have the right to make a public declaration of the matter.

In fact, as regards this latter argument, many Synods were called by bishops locally, during past schisms which resulted from more than one claimant to the papacy.  In such cases, these Synods were called at the request of Kings and Princes, by under the authority of the primate of the Kingdom and other Archbishops of those territories. And indeed, in such cases, there were occasions in which the Synod of this kingdom rendered a decision differing or concordant with the decision of synod of another kingdom.  This happened often in the Great Western Schism (1378-1415).  Even during the schism under Bl. Urban II or the antipope Anacletus II, several councils were held in France to repeat the decision in favor of the true pope.  So that there be only one Synod rather than more is not even a necessity.

Now the strongest argument against calling such a council or synod is that it would never be legitimate canonically unless it be called by Pope Benedict XVI or by Bergoglio, depending upon which you think is the true pope.

But the stronger argument is this: Since every Bishop has the right and duty to remain in communion with the true pope.  This is implied formally in canon 392 §1, which says:

Since he is obliged to defend the unity of the Church universal, the Bishop (of each diocese) is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and hence to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.

Thus, if a Bishop is obliged he has a right to act, and if he be bound to promote the common discipline, he is even more bound to uphold the terms of Canon 332 §2 on papal renunciations and canon 1364 regarding heretics, apostates and schismatics, even if they intrude upon the Apostolic See.

As for the convocation of such a Synod, this too is a duty of the Bishops in virtue of their specific obligation of communion with and visits to the Roman Pontiff (cf. canon 399) every 5 years, because a Synod held in the presence of the Pope is nothing more than a public audience of the Pope held in the presence of the bishops to hear from his own mouth his instructions and councils and explanations and to hear from their own mouths, their needs and questions.

Another avenue is the Provincial Council, which can be convened by the Metropolitan Archbishop (canon 442) when the majority of bishops in that ecclesiastical province agree (canon 440), and though this can only be done with the approval of the Apostolic See (cf. canon 339), it would be sufficient that one of the claimants to the papacy remain silent, to grant the tacit permission to convene the Synod. In a provincial council, the Metropolitan determines the place, procedures, questions, time of opening and can transfer, prorogue or dissolve the assembly of bishops (canon 442 §1 n. 3). In the case of there being no valid Metropolitan, this can be done by a  validly nominated suffragan Bishop elected by other valid suffragan bishops (canon 442 §2). Canons 443-446 specify how to conduct a Provincial Council.  And it is noteworthy to note, that the Synod of Sutri in 1046 was most likely a Provincial council.

Perhaps the most risky of all solutions, however, would be to await the death of one or the other claimants and allow the Cardinals who recognize Benedict XVI as the true Pope, to meet and make a public declaration for Pope Benedict (when Bergoglio passes away or resigns) or to proceed to elect his successor in a new conclave, depending on the case in question. Though I think that a public declaration by the Cardinals would still require a public confirmation by Pope Benedict XVI or a Synod).

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CREDITS: The Featured image is that of the doors of the Cathedral of Sutri. All rights reserved by FromRome.Info.

Il Libero: “A Book has put Ratzinger back on the Throne”

Commentary by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

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.

Andrea Cionci

Was it Substantial Error, or Divine Inspiration?

REPRINT OF MARCH 4, 2020 A. D.

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

A frequent question that I receive is that which regards why Pope Benedict XVI renounced the ministry which was committed to me through the hands of the Cardinals and not the petrine ministry which he received when he accepted his election as Roman Pontiff.

The First to Answer is Ann Barnhardt

The first to answer this question substantially, was Ann Barnhardt. And she did that in June of 2016, way before anyone else. Her explanation is that Pope Benedict XVI made a substantial error. His declaration, therefore, does not effect the loss of the papal office because this error of naming the wrong thing in the act of renunciation causes the act to be irritus – Ann, however,  nearly always says, “invalid” for simplicity sake — in virtue of Canon 188, which means that it has no legal effect.

Her analysis and argument was the first to break through the Big Lie of our age. And it has rescued countless minds from the lies and propaganda of the Bergoglian party. It was the first convincing argument I ever heard. I watched it in one of her videos in August of 2018 and in October of 2018 I actually made the time to look at the Latin of the Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013 and the Latin of the Code of Canon Law, canon 332 §2, two things I had never done. I saw she was 100% correct in about 5 seconds.

That is all it should take for anyone to see that she is correct. Because the act of the intellect which is needed to see it is the first act of the mind: that ability — given to us by the Most Holy Trinity who creates our soul out of nothing in the moment of our conception — to recognize the essence of any thing for what it is before comparing it to anything else.

And there is only 3 ways to not be able to exercise that ability. The First is that your are mentally impaired or retarded. The Second is that, in this case, you cannot read.  And the third case is that you allow your will to prevent you from thinking, either by bad will or because you allow yourself to be seduced by an unsubstantiated doubt, gratuitously asserted.

Those who have the first problem are not guilty. Those who have the second problem should study if they can. And those who have the third problem will be damned, because in matter so grave as who is the true Pope, the forcible intervention of will to prevent the mind from seeing what God gave it the ability to see, is a direct attack on the Divine Will for you, and thus a mortal sin.

As regards a substantial error, it can be caused by any number of causes. But that is another thing all together. Regardless of what was the cause, the substantial error is objective. No amout of ink, argument or bluster, no amount of insults or villainy can change the historical fact that Benedict renounced the ministerium, but Canon 332 §2 requires the renunciation of munus.

The Second Answer is Divine Inspiration

I was not the second to give answer, nor was I the first to suggest divine inspiration. Archbishop Gänswein himself said that Pope Benedict XVI was inspired by God to do what he did. I think in the book length interview with Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict XVI confirms this.

But what many do not realize, there are at lest 19 kinds of Divine Inspiration, and not all of them have the same effects. I know this because many years ago, when I was in a library with some ancient manuscripts, I read Saint Bernardine of Sienna’s tract on divine inspiration written in the 15th century, in Latin.

I will not summarize the 19 kinds, but I will simplify the classifications.  There is Divine Inspiration which is perfectly efficacious and is the cause of the whole act. There is Divine Inspiration which is efficacious but requires collaboration in the act by the fallible recipient of the inspiration, and then there is Divine Inspiration which is only motive and puts all the burden of work in the one inspired, infallible as he is.

So, even if it be true that Pope Benedict XVI was divinely inspired to renounce, that does not mean that what he did was Divinely Inspired in every aspect of it.

I have no reason to think Pope Benedict XVI is a liar and thus accept what he says about being inspired by God. And in several articles, here at FromRome.Info I have speculated that he acted to defend the Church from Freemasonry. In this I presume not to judge the Pope, as the Rule of Saint Francis requires me. I also presume that he did not sin in the least.  And in this I am merely obeying charity, which thinketh no evil of any man.

Third Answer is Both

The third possibility is that he was both inspired by God and made a substantial error. And that this happened because God gave him the inspiration to resign, but not the grace to do it perfectly. And that God did this because God wanted to protect the Church from Freemasonry, but did not want Pope Benedict XVI to be guilty of making a fake resignation or of being accused of deceiving anyone.

If such was the case, God also acted perfectly. Because He owes no man grace to be perfect and impeccable in what he does, not even the Roman Pontiff.

In this case, too, it may be that God blinded the minds of the Cardinals and Bishops to not see the substantial error in the act of renunciation because He was completely disgusted with them and wants to cut them off from His Church, or at least to so humiliate them before men as to produce from them a wholesome repentance and conversion which would not be achieved through any other means.

In this third supposition, Pope Benedict XVI may have sinned through pride, imprudence, haste, fear or avarice, depending whether the substantial error was conceived and executed out of vanity, neglect of seeking sound counsel, fear to avoid being assassinated or desire to have something after resigning that he had no right to have.

Conclusion

As can be seen, the First Answer addresses the objective facts and presumes personal fault or error and excludes divine inspiration. The second presumed divine inspiration and excludes personal fault or error. But the third and last presumes in part divine inspiration but in part some personal fault.

Yes, as Pope Innocent II teaches, we cannot judge the Roman Pontiff except when he errs in matters of the faith. And thus, we must say that it was a substantial error and affirm that it is an error to hold that the papacy can be divided. But as the Church has not definitively taught this truth — though it be clear in the Deposit of the Faith — holding this error does not cause you to be a heretic canonically. And acting on the basis of this error is not the same thing as professing the error, because, as I said, the error can arise out of passion and not dissent of mind.

But whatever was the reason answer, (1) we are all obliged to pray for Pope Benedict XVI and (2) urge that the right canonical order be restored in the Church: that he be recognized as the one and only true Pope, that it be affirmed that Bergoglio was  never the pope, and that Bergoglio be publicly reproved for teaching heresy and promoting schism, if not also for usurping the papal office (on the supposition he does know the resignation is invalid).

Both things need to be done: here at FromRome.Info we are not heroes or better than anyone else in the Church, nor even experts. We just advocate that which the Faith teaches all of us should advocate in such a crisis.

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The Bandages to the Invalid Renunciation

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

In 2017, we are told, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a private letter to Cardinal Brandmueller to explain what he did on Feb. 11, 2013.

You can read the original German and an Italian translation of the letters, by clicking the image above.

The articles published about these letters all aim to demonstrate that Pope Benedict XVI himself chose the title Pope Emeritus to signify that he is no longer the pope and that his renunciation was valid.

But the letters have 2 glaring problems.

  1. Joseph Ratzinger signs them, Pope “Benedict XVI”.
  2. Before signing them, he gives the Papal blessing!

So, I have to laugh when anyone cites these letters as proof that Pope Benedict XVI is not the pope, therefore.

But if you look at the argument in the letters, it is just as convincing. Because therein, it is made to appear that Pope Benedict XVI resigned in an entirely novel and new manner so that he could have, not like a mere cardinal, but as Pope emeritus, an untouchable position from which he could be protected from the press and all inquiries and requests.

Untouchable.

Hmm.

That means that Bergoglio cannot rermove him from that position.

That means that Bergoglio does not have the authority to remove him from that position.

That means that Bergoglio does not have the authority to make him stop wearing the clothing of the Pope or signing as the Pope.

That means that Benedict XVI has resigned in such a way as to retain an authority highter than Bergoglio.

Now what authority is that?

He has not become Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church.

And yet he has more authority than Bergoglio.

But in the Church there is only one office which has authority below Christ and above every other Bishop by every other name.

And that is the Vicar of Christ, the Pope.

So that means, that Bergoglio is not the Pope.

And that means that Benedict, XVI, in wearing white and signing “Benedict XVI P. P.” is saying that he is still the pope.

Or it means that he is confused and thinks he is not the pope but has an authority above the pope.

But if we look at his act, he clearly renounces the ministry of the Pope, but not the munus of the Pope.

But the munus is the source of the authority.

Therefore, Pope Benedict XVI remains the pope, whatever his intentions are.

Is this confusing?

Well if he has to write a letter to Cardinal Brandmuller 4 years after he resigns whatever he resigned, to explain it, when the Cardinal lives only a few hundred meters away and can speak to him, then, yes, he admits there is public and manifest and lasting confusion.

Therefore, his resignation was not duly manifested.

Therefore, his resignation did not meet 2 of the criteria necessary for a papal resignation, namely, that he renounce the munus, and that it be duly manifested.

Therefore, his resignation never happend and is not valid.

Therefore he remains the pope.

And thus, the letters to Brandmuller are bandages which do not work, but try to cover the problem.

 

The Canon 15 §2 Strawman trotted out by LifeSite’s anonymous Canon Lawyer

REPRINT FROM FEB. 2020

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Just as every criminal, for the sake of public safety, should receive a response from the police, so every error merits a refutation by those who love the truth. This is even more true in proportion to the danger posed by the criminal, or by the error.

Backstory

Nearly a year ago, on February 14, 2019, in an attempt to quell the growing realization among many Catholics that Benedict is still the Pope, LifeSite News, a pro-life website founded by a Canandian Political action committee and a converted Atheist, published an article containing a whole string of falsifications of legal principles and straw men arguments, entitled, “Did Benedict really resign? Gänswein, Burke and Brandmüller weigh in.”  The article was authored by Diana Montagna, and it was one of the first to actually mention the controversy over Benedict’s resignation.

I refuted the major points of her article, in my response, published on the same day, entitled, Gänswein, Brandmüller & Burke: Please read Canon 17!

As I look back today at that article, it does not surprise me that it was published at LifeSite News. My experience in apologetics — the one on one discussions with non Catholics to convince them the Catholic Faith is the true Faith or to answer their questions in that regard — for over 24 years has given me plenty of opportunities to speak with atheists of all kinds, and the one difficulty they all have is the inability to believe that words have meaning, and that meaning can carry us to the infinite or eternal. This is one of the great doubts in modern time which is propagated by the secular media and culture, and it is one of the most fundamental attacks Lucifer uses against souls. And as most of us cradle Catholics, who never doubted or left the faith have also experienced, just because a Convert has converted, does not yet mean he has left behind all his faults, errors or phobias.

I say this, because I cannot imagine why any good Catholic would publish an article such as Montagna’s which is so full of lies, and trash the reputation of his 15 year apostolate so profoundly in a single act. Pro-abortionists love to deny the meaning of words, because that is the only way you can kill children in the womb or as they come out of it. Denying Canon Law and legal principles kills souls, and that is a worse crime and sin in the sight of God and faithful Christians.

The Canon 15 §2 Strawman

First, let me thank Fred Martinez over at Catholic Monitor Blog, for drawing my attention again, a year later, to Montagna’s article. Mr. Martinez is doing a superb job at finding and pointing out the logical or textual self-contradictions of the “Bergoglio is certainly the Pope” crowd, and many of his articles show where he catches them saying the exact opposite after 2016 what they said before 2016. — My profound gratitude also to the Most Rev. Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas, for reposting his and many of my articles, at his own blog, abyssum.org, to help the wider audience of the faithful know of the pertinent issues in the present Church crisis.

In Montagna’s article, see here, there is trotted out the argument from Canon 15 §2. She quotes the anonymous theologian, thus:

The theologian acknowledged that it is possible that Pope Benedict thought there might be a real distinction between munus and ministerium but was unsure. In that case, he said, Benedict’s abdication would be invalid only if he had in his mind the thought: “I only want to resign the ministerium if it is in fact distinct from the munus.”

But he said it would be equally possible that, being unsure whether there was a distinction, Benedict could have had in mind the thought: “I want to resign the ministerium whether or not it is distinct from the munus.” In that case, the theologian said he believes the resignation would have been valid.

“In any case,” he said, “I don’t think there is convincing evidence that Benedict thought there was a real distinction between the two things.”

“Again,” the theologian continued, “since according to Canon 15.2, error is not presumed about a law, the presumption must be that he validly renounced the papacy.”

Let’s take a look at the actual Canon and see if the anonymous theologian — who appears not to have a degree in Canon Law, because if he did, he should be termed a canonist — actually quoted the Canon correctly and/or represented its authentic meaning:

Canon 15 §2, in the Intratext edition:

Can. 15 – § 1. Ignorantia vel error circa leges irritantes vel inhabilitantes earundem effectum non impediunt, nisi aliud expresse statuatur.

§ 2. Ignorantia vel error circa legem aut poenam aut circa factum proprium aut circa factum alienum notorium non praesumitur; circa factum alienum non notorium praesumitur, donec contrarium probetur.

Which in good English, means:

Canon 15. – § 1. Ignorance and/or error about irritating and/or inabilitating laws* does not impede their effect, unless something else has been expressly established.

§ 2. Ignorance and/or error about a law or punishment or about one’s own deed or about the notorious deed of another is not presumed; it is presumed about the non-notorious fact of another, until the contrary is proven.

But the theologian said Canon 15 §2 says “error is not presumed about a law, the presumption must be that he validly renounced the papacy.” — It is not clear, what the theologian is intending to speak about, because he is quoted to have introduced his statement with, “Again”, which implies reference to a second matter or the use of another kind of argument, or a double reason for the same argument. In charity, I assume he is referring to his straw man argument about the interior state of mind of Pope Benedict.

But it is certain what the canon says regards a person’s ignorance or error regarding a law. That can be seen from the entire context of the Canon, which speaks about a person’s apprehension of facts and of law. But it is proven by the Latin word, circa, which does not mean in, but regarding the matter of.

Thus, if we read the theologian as referring to Benedict’s knowledge of Canon 332 §2, which is the context of Montagna’s article, read in the best possible light, then we can see that the theologian is doing a bate-and-switch, because if we are not to presume that Benedict was ignorant or in error regarding Canon 332 §2, when we must presume that when he renounced ministerium, he did NOT intend to renounce the munus. Because if you think he intended to renounce the munus, then you have presumed he erred in saying ministerium.

As you can see, the anonymous theologian made a gross misrepresentation of the law. If he were a Canonist, I would have to presume in accord with Canon 15 §2 that he was a liar and intentionally misrepresented the canon. But since he is only an anonymous theologian, who  may have never studied Canon Law or may not know how to read Latin, in charity we should presume that he is simply ignorant or incompetent to give his opinion on it. — But, as I demonstrated in my rebuttal 51 weeks ago, everyone quoted in the article shows serious deficiencies in the knowledge of Canon Law or legal principles, except Cardinal Burke who seems to simply mistake the kind of legal matter he is dealing with, just as the great Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori did on the occasion of his conversion to his vocation.

The interpretative principle used by the anonymous theologian seems more adapted to the psycho-analysis of sociopaths, in that a clinical psychologist presumes the context of his patient’s statements in the best possible light but without reference to any objective custom or law of verbal expression, because, after all, he is a patient with problems.

The theologian, therefore, is adopting a presumption and a very uncharitable one toward the reigning Pontiff and towards a man who has read thousands of books. Not to mention, a presumption contrary to fact, because in the previous sentences of the Declaratio, Pope Benedict XVI uses the Latin word “munus” twice!

The correct reading of Canon 15, is that in accord with Canon 15 §1, even if Benedict were ignorant, Canons 38 and 188 and 332 would still nullify his act. So if he did not realize that by renouncing the ministry rather than the munus, he would transgress the essential obligations of Canon 332 §2 in his renunciation as regards the specific act required, the liberty required and the manifestation required, his act would nevertheless BE INVALID!

So Canon 15 destroys entirely the argument of everyone cited in Montagna’s article, because on the one hand if Pope Benedict was ignorant that would not save the act from being nullified by the Law, and if on the other hand we are to presume he was not ignorant, we must understand his act as a renunciation of ministerium, not of munus, and therefore it is also invalid by the same Canons 38, 188 and 332.

Words have meaning: this terrifies atheists and sociopaths, because it demands of each of us that we conform our verbal expression to an objective standard and admit that meaning transcends the categories of human speech, points us towards objective and eternal rules of behavior and implies that there is a God who is Sovereign of this Universe and Who will judge us eternally for what we do and say. — That words have meaning, is also the nemesis of every criminal, because it is through words that he is caught, prosecuted and sentenced.

Thus, we cannot be faithful or upright Catholics if we listen to men or women who attempt to undermine the truth that words have meaning, and if we do not admit that it is not within our power to change their meaning, neither in themselves nor in them when others use them. Those who do such things are practicing the same method of persuasion used by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, and we all know who that was and what it led to.

__________

FOOTNOTES

* An irritating law is a law which declares a juridical act to have no value in law on account of not having followed the due requirement of the law for the said act. An inabilitating law is a law which deprives the act of the ability to have an effect.  Canon 38 is an inabilitating law, Canon 188 is an irritating law, and Canon 332 § 2 is an invalidating law. Canon 332 §2, is the matter for the application of Canons 38 and 188 in regard to error in a papal renunciation, because as regards the error of a reigning pontiff, the Code takes the position that the administrative act be presumed valid per se but not have the effect others thinks it has or which the pontiff thinks it may have, and thus in canons 38 and 188 and 332, it declares that it has the effect which the sacred canons say it has, and not any other effect. — This is why it is essential, and not simply an optional method of intepretation, that Canon Law be read and used carefully to understand the canonical effect, if any, in an administrative act of the Roman Pontiff.

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CREDITS: The Featured Image above is a screen shot of the page of LifeSite News featuring the article reference herein. It is used here, along with the citation of the same, in accord with fair use standards for editorial commentary.

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