Recently, I had the opportunity to have as a guest a fellow Franciscan hermit. And in the course of our discussions, we came to the topic of who is the Pope. He gave me his reasons, mostly drawn from a canonist whom he respects.
Since our discussion would be helpful if it be known by the entire Catholic world, I share it here:
That canonist replied to me in this vein — this is not a direct quote: If Br. Alexis Bugnolo is correct about the meaning of the term, “munus” then Benedict is still the Pope. But until the Church comes to an agreement about this, we should not risk schism by breaking from Bergoglio. We must be very careful not to presume to say one word means this or that, especially when by error in this matter we could separate ourselves form the true Church.
Having received this reply, I explained to my guest, how wrong this answer is, and this for several reasons:
This argument is guilty of a petitio principii, that is, of presuming that that which it attempts to prove is true and arguing back to that truth, without ever putting it into question. For it presumes that Bergoglio is the vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff, and then argues that since he is, we would be risking our eternal salvation by breaking from him on our own judgement of whether munus means or does not mean the papal office. And it concludes by saying we should stick with Bergoglio unless the Church decides otherwise.
This argument pretends that what “munus” means is merely a question of opinions, and that since there is no authority which has declared it, we should refrain from making a judgement and follow the consensus of our ecclesiastical superiors.
This argument also errs in ignoring the proper canonical procedure in resolving the doubt of a juridical question.
This argument should conclude with the call for a Council to declare one way or another who is the Pope, but by resting in indecision shows that it pretends to honesty while, rather resting in dishonest indecision, which is in fact a form of intellectual and moral sloth, and this, in a matter which touches upon the salvation of the entire Church and of billions of souls now and in the future.
Here is my response to the comment by the canonist:
It is not a matter of opinion as to the meaning of munus, as if it were possible to sustain both that meaning by which munus means the papal office in a formal or substantive sense and that meaning by which munus can be named through the term ministerium.
Nay, rather, since no one has the right to interpret a papal act, and since Monsignor Ignacio Arrieta, President of the Pontifical Council on Legal Texts says, that no one has the right to interpret a renunciation — since if it is to be interpreted it is dubious and not manifest — the only way to understand the meaning of an act of renunciation is to have recourse to the obligation of the Code of Law, canon 17, which obliges us to understand the words of a juridical act as the Code of Law uses them. For in understanding a papal renunciation according to the obligation of law, we remove our method from every opinion of men and submit our own personal judgement to the declared authority of the Church:
Given that in canon 145 every ecclesiastical office is a munus
Given that in canons 331, 332, 333, 334, the only word for the office of the Roman Pontiff is munus
Given that in canon 1331, n. 2, iv, an excommunicated person cannot attain any dignity, office or munus but can obtain a ministerium
Given that the members of the Roman Curia assist the Roman Pontiff in the execution of his office, that is, his ministerium, but do not share in his office, that is, his munus,
And given that in renouncing X one separates himself from X, whereas, if X be that which can be had by one who is not the pope or not in communion with the Church, then its renunciation by the Pope cannot have the consequence of causing him to lose that which he shares with no other man, namely, that which makes him the pope,
That Canon 12 declares that ALL are bound by the canons of the Church, when a canon has been promulgated for them, and thus in renouncing the man who is the pope is not above Canon Law
Canon 332 §2 declares, that a pope renounces when he renounces his munus as pope, not his ministerium
That to fulfill canon 332 §2, the man who is pope is obliged by canon 124 §1, which requires him to make an act of renunciation which regards the same essence of act specified in canon 332 §2, and that if he does NOT, then canon 124 §2 says that there is no presumption as to its validity, nay rather, in accord with canon 188, if the act contains a substantial error, it is irritus by the law itself (ipso iure), that is, it must be considered to have never been posited.
If the act of renunciation of ministerium is not a juridical but only an administrative act, it must be understood in accord with canon 36, which reaffirms the same principles as canon 17.
Hence it results that in renouncing the ministerium and not the munus, the man who is Roman Pontiff cannot be understood to have meant to have renounced the munus withoutimposing an interpretation upon his words.
And therefore we must assume that the Renunciation made by Pope Benedict as Ratzinger on 11 Feb. 2013 does not mean a renunciation of the papacy, the office, nor the dignity or munus of the Roman Pontiff.
And therefore it does not appear that such renunciation produces a sede vacante.
Hence, We are obliged to hold that such renunciation is dubious and therefore invalid to produce the effect of the loss of office
Therefore by virtue of the words declared by the lips of the Living Incarnate God, Jesus Christ, Head of the Church, and sole Teacher of all, given to Simon Peter: “What you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven,” which directly refer to the Code of Canon Law, we must ALL hold that Jesus did not transfer the grace and office to another, since He Himself has bound Himself to the Code of Canon Law promulgated by His Vicar, John Paul II.
And that therefore, Benedict XVI remains the pope.
End of the canonical argument.
By the way, IF YOU HAVE NOT NOTICED, Pope Benedict XVI still
Wears the white of a pope
Signs with his papal name
Adds the abbreviation, P. P, to his name, which only a pope can do.
Gives the Papal Blessing, which only a pope can do.
Lives in the Vatican.
Which is all consistent with the above canonical argument. Hence, it is not even credible to counter argue, by saying, “But until Benedict says otherwise, we must presume Bergoglio is the pope.”
Hence it is entirely without any foundation in reality, that those, who say Bergoglio is the pope, continue to do such. They have been hoodwinked, if they are innocent and without bad will. But God is counting the years and soon His Wrath will fall upon all the slothful and bad-willed, for as it is says in the Book of the Apocalypse, the first to be cast into the eternal pit of Hell are the slothful: those who know there is a problem or something that needs to be done for the salvation of themselves or others, but dismiss taking any action on it.
The correct response from all honest Catholics would simply be to call a council and have all the Cardinals and Bishops of the World expert in theology, philosophy, and canon law to discuss the matter. To fail in that, is to risk the damnation of most of the faithful and the destruction of the Church. And that is the treachery of Judas Iscariot.
What does it mean, to be loyal to the Pope,
if we do not consider ourselves obligated
to know who is the true pope?
It is already clear that the whims of politicians has substituted any desire for the truth, and that the Dictatorship of Relativism has exalted itself unto the heavens. Hence, it is necessary duty that we Roman Catholics distinguish now between falsehood and truth.
The criterion of truth differs according to different subjects. In a vote, political truth consists in the final count of the votes. In the empirical sciences, scientific truth consists in what can be observed and demonstrated by repetitive experimentation. In matters of faith, the truth is the teaching which God has revealed. But in questions of who is and who is not the true pope, the truth consists in Canon Law, because the law of the Church regulates whose claim to the papacy is valid and legitimate, and whose is not.
As everyone knows, it is neither whim nor popularity nor a poll which confirms that a man is the Pope. A man becomes pope solely when he is elected in a Conclave. But to be more precise: a man becomes the pope when HE ACCEPTS his canonical election in a legitimate conclave. And a legitimate conclave is a Conclave which observes the papal law of Pope John Paul II, Universi dominici gregis, on the convening of conclaves during a vacancy (sede vacante) of the Apostolic See (see the Latin or English text at Vatican.va).
Obviously, therefore, even if all the Cardinals say the Pope is a man, who was not elected in a conclave which observed the norms of that papal law, he is NOT the pope, because even the Cardinals are obliged to observe the Canon Law of the Catholic Church! In fact, canon 359 says expressly that the Cardinals have no decision making power when the Apostolic See is vacant.
Therefore, to know who is the true pope, it is not sufficient to recognize him who has been elected in Conclave. Every Catholic also has the duty to verify if there was a sede vacante. This, however, is not a problem when a Pope dies, because there is a corpse.
But, how about when a Pope renounces? There a problem can arise. In fact, Pope John Paul II expressly foresaw the possibility of a invalid renunciation in paragraph 3 of his law on Conclaves, Universi dominici gregis, and indirectly in paragraph, n. 37
Pope John Paul II also foresaw the possibility of an invalid renunciation in the Code of Canon Law which he promulgated in 1983, because in Canon 332 §2, it speaks in these terms regarding a Papal renunciation:
Canon 332 §2 — Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validiatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero a quopiam acceptetur.
Which in English means:
Canon 332 §2 — If it happen that the Roman Pontiff renounces his munus, for validity there is required that the renunciation be freely made and be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone whomsoever.
In many translations of this canon, the Latin word munus (which is employed in the dative form, muneri) is translated as office, in accord with the terms of canon 145 §1, which defines every ecclesiastical office (officium) as a munus. This way of translating munus, however, is not faithful, because an ecclesiastical office per se is merely an ecclesiastical dignity. But the munus of the Successor of Saint Peter is a supernatural dignity, an evangelical duty, and a charge imposed by Jesus Himself, by reason of which the law of the Church reckons it as an ecclesiastical office according to the norm of law.
At this point, we need to recognize that in every discussion of canon law, the Latin text of an act is normally the only text which has juridical authority. On this account, Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013, in Consistory with the Cardinals, expressed himself in the Latin tongue, saying in the first person singular (as Joseph Ratzinger) the following:
Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commisso renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.
A Papal Renunciation is a special kind of juridical act
A papal renunciation of munus is a special kind of juridical act. As Mons. Arrieta, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legal Texts, in his meeting with Br. Alexis Bugnolo, on December 11, 2019, affirmed, a papal renunciation is not subject to interpretation by anyone, that is, no one in the Church has the legal right to interpret it. Not even the Pope. Because if the renunciation was valid, then he is no longer the pope. And if it was not valid, his interpretation cannot make it valid. “It has to be certain in itself”, as Mons. Arrieta affirmed.
Hence, as can be seen from the official Latin text of the renunciation, quoted above, Pope Benedict XVI renounced the ministerium (ministery). Hence, it is not legitimate for anyone to say that he renounced anything else. In particular, it is not permitted that anyone say that he renounced his munus or ecclesiastical office, for such an affirmation would be an interpretation which substitutes officio (office) or muneri (munus) where Pope Benedict XVI said ministerio (ministry).
Hence, Pope Benedict XVI is still the Pope. There never was a sede vacante.
The Haste and Imprudence of the Cardinals on Feb. 11, 2013 was historic and extraordinary
According to Mons. Arrieta, there never was, as far as he knows, any meeting of expert canonists to examine the Declaratio of Pope Benedict XVI, before Father Lombardi gave the go-ahead to Giovanna Chirri, an ANSA pool report, to tweet out to the world that Pope Benedict had resigned from the papacy.
Obviously, then, no one in the Church is obligated to follow Father Lombardi or Mrs. Giovanna Chirri or even the Cardinals in their error. Rather, we are obliged by the Divine and Catholic Faith to give our loyalty still to Pope Benedict XVI, as the Pope.
Pope John Paul II took precautions against errors of this kind in his Code of Canon Law of 1983, because in that Code, he as the supreme legislator of the Church, changed the canon which regarded the renunciation of the Roman Pontiff. He did this because, for more than 20 years, theologians had put in discussion the possibility of separating the papal government from the papal office, by means of a sharing of the papal dignity among two or more persons, one charged with the papal munus, and the other with the papal ministerium. He put a stop to any such future possibility by adding the words muneri suo as the object of the verb “renuntiare” (to renounce) — the Code of Canon Law of 1917 has no object to the verb. Moreover, he impeded the possibility of renouncing by renouncing anything else, through canon 188, which declares every renunciation irritus — invalid or never to have existed — which contains a substantial error as regards what is to be renounced.
Thus, even if Pope Benedict XVI wanted to renounce only the ministry but not the munus, he could not do it. Moreover, Mons. Arrieta affirmed — likewise in his meeting with Br. Bugnolo — that such a renunciation, so as to share the papal dignity with two persons, would be contrary to the Divine law itself.
A Divine obligation for all
Everyone in the Church is obliged to follow the true pope. A man, elected in a Conclave which was convened during the lifetime of a canonically elected pope, is obviously not the pope! Canon 359 formally forbids the Cardinals to elect another pope during the lifetime of the reigning Pope. And the reigning Pope remains pope until he either dies or renounces in accord with the terms of Canon 332.
If the Clergy has hastily followed the opinion of a journalist or Vatican spokesman who were not qualified in Canon Law, their error obliges no one. If the Cardinals, in haste and without due discretion, presumed the renunciation of ministerium was a renunciation of the papacy, their error obliges no one. Even if Pope Benedict XVI, with his advanced age, though that he could renounce the power and office of the papacy, without renouncing or even intending to renounce the munus, because he wanted to retain the papal dignity afterwards, this error obliges no one. It obliges no one, because not even Pope Benedict XVI has a power or authority which extends over the papal office. Only the Creator of that office, Jesus Christ, has that power. Hence, not even the intent expressed in the act (that of vacating the Apostolic Throne) can repair the error of not renouncing the petrine munus.
What are we to do now?
We must insist with our sacred pastors that they stop naming the man, who never received the petrine munus, as pope in the Canon of the Mass, and return to naming Pope Benedict. Each priest needs to employ canon 41, which gives him the authority to read the text of the Renunciation and to declare it null.
We need to do everything we can to convince the Cardinals to recognize their error and to return their loyalty to Pope Benedict XVI. Finally, we need to insist that the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenas Aires returns home to Argentina.
This is a solemn duty for every Catholic. We can not do otherwise, if we want to attain Heaven, because to obey an Anti-pope is the worst sin of disobedience possible in the Church on Earth.
Note, in this English translation, some of the terms and phrases were rendered according to the custom of English, rather than literally, and some Italian expressions which are clear in the Italian context, were expanded or made more precise, for clarity in English.
Today is the seventh anniversary of a day that will live in infamy.
A day of wickedness and flippancy.
A day wherein the Cardinals of the Catholic Church showed their utter contempt for:
Pope Benedict XVI
The Catholic Faith in the Papacy
The Canons of the Catholic Church
The Papal Law on Conclaves
Let me explain why I say this, point by point, in reverse order.
The Cardinals betrayed common sense 7 years ago today
It is obvious by now, that if anyone on the planet ,who had common sense, sat down and talked to Bergoglio for 15 minutes, he would realize that he is not a fit candidate to be Roman Pontiff.
But the College of Cardinals had been housed together with him for two weeks prior to March 13, 2013.
Therefore, the last 7 years proves that God certainly did not approve of their judgement in selecting such a man. Indeed, it was an epic failure of the College of Cardinals, as I wrote, in 2015.
The Cardinals betrayed John Paul II’s law on Conclaves
The Cardinal Electors violated the papal law on conclaves, in several ways.
First of all, they violated the Law, Universi dominici gregis, as regards the requirement in n. 37, of that law, when they held a Conclave without verifying whether there was a legal sede vacante.
A legal sede vacante means that either the previous pope is dead, and they confirm that with a funeral, or the previous pope resigned according to the norm of Canon 332 §2.
I have it from no less than the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legal Texts, Mons. Arrieta, whose commentary on the Code of Canon Law I keep at by desk, that there never was any meeting of canon law experts to verify if the Declaratio of Pope Benedict, of Feb. 11, 2013 — commonly called Pope Benedict’s Renunciation — was in conformity with the norm of canon 332 §2.
Second, the Cardinals violated n. 81, of the same papal law, by entering into agreements and promises to vote for Bergoglio, as Cardinal Daneels of Beglium admitted in his Biography composed of interviews he gave. But the College has never acted on the self admission, which in Canon Law tradition is an indisputable act of self imputation of a canonical crime. I have covered this issue in an extensive Chronology of Events, which still remains the most authoritative collection of facts on the matter, on the net.
Thrid, the Cardinals rushed to elect Bergoglio by violating the same Papal Law on the number of ballots permitted on each day: four, as is specified in n. 63, of the same papal law, regarding limit on the number of ballots to be taken on the 2nd day of balloting and all subsequent days. Because, as has been confirmed by several testimonies in the last 7 years, Bergoglio was elected on the 5th ballot. And this has never been denied.
Fourth, while there has been much controversy over whether the Cardinals could proceed to a fifth ballot in the case of a 4th balloting which contained 1 more vote paper than the number of Electors present, there remains 2 legal questions which have never been addressed about this:
The Cardinals could not lawfully proceed to a 5th Ballot unless they paused the election and held a discussion on the interpretation of the papal law, using the right conceded to them in that same law, in n. 5, for this purpose. If they proceeded to a 5th ballot without such a discussion and vote, then even if they interpreted it as valid, that omission made their interpretation illicit, and hence the entire election invalid.
Whether the Auditors of the Papal Conclave, as specified in n. 70 of the same papal law, held any meeting or discussion in accord with the norm, there specified, regarding the auditing of the final vote. Because in the case that there was no meeting in accord with n. 5 of the same papal law, in regard to whether to proceed to a 5th ballot when only 4 ballots were permitted, then likewise if the Auditors did not meet, the election was canonically invalid. And if they did meet, they had to declare in the case of the lack of a vote in accord with n. 5, that the election was invalid.
Since the multiple reports about a 5th balloting are all silent about what should have happened as regards nn. 1 and 2, here above, it can be rightfully doubted the election was valid. Because a doubtful pope is no pope.
The Cardinals Betrayed the Canons of the Catholic Church
Seven years ago today, the Cardinals consummated their betrayal of the Canons of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II, in 1983, in the text known as the Codex iuris canonicis, or the Code of Canon Law.
First, the Cardinals violated canon 40, which required them not to take any decision in regard to Pope Benedict XVI’s Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013, until they had the Latin text in hand in its final corrected version. Since the Vatican Press office in the days following February 11 published at least 3 versions of the text, there is sound canonical evidence that Cardinal Sodano, through Father Lombardi, violated canon 40 in instructing Giovanna Chirri at 11:58 AM, on that morning, to announce to the world that Pope Benedict has announced his resignation from the Pontificate on Feb. 28. Canon 40 declares invalid any act taken by a subordinate, before he has in hand the integral text of the act of his superior.
Second, the Cardinals violated canon 41, which required them to examine if the legal act contained in the Declaratio was an act specified by the Code of Canon Law and was in all its particulars a command to do something opportune. But since in the entire Code of Canon Law there is no mention of an act of renunciation of ministerium, the act posited by Pope Benedict XVI was clearly an an actus nullus, and thus canon 41 required them not to act upon it. Also since a renunciation of ministerium does not effect the loss of the papal office, the fact that the Declaratio speaks of calling a Conclave is an inopportune detail or provision. Canon 41 requires that those with mere ministry of execution, in such a case, have recourse to the superior to correct these issues. Once again, according to Mons. Arrieta, nothing of the kind happened.
Third, the Cardinals violated canon 38, which required them not to interpret the Declaratio of Pope Benedict as being in conformity to Canon 332 §2, on the grounds that by naming the ministerium instead of the canonically required munus, the act would gravely injure the rights of the Faithful to know if the pope had validly resigned or not, would cause doubt and risk schism in the Church. For in such a case, Pope Benedict XVI would have had to granted a derogation of canon 332 §2 in his Declaratio, in conformity with canon 38, otherwise the act would have been irritus. He did not, so the act was irritus — a technical canonical term which means having not effect in law, void, on account of having not followed due procedure (ritus).
Fourth, the Cardinals violated canon 36 §1, which requires them to interpret strictly any papal act which violates the norm of any canon, let alone Canon 332 §2. To interpret strictly means that they had to read ministerium as exclusive of any signification of munus, and thus hold that the Declaratio was prima facie incapable of causing Pope Benedict to validly resign the papal munus, the papal office and the papal dignity.
Fifth, the Cardinals violated canons 126 and 188, which require that a juridical act of renunciation of office contain the proper or essential act specified in the law. As is clear from the Code of Canon Law, which speaks of the Papal Office in canons 331, 332, 332, and 749, the proper term for the papal office is the petrine munus, not the petrine ministerium. Hence, they were required in accord with canon 188 to judge the renunication irritus on the grounds of substantial error.
Sixth, the Cardinals violated canons 17 and 145 §1, which require respectively that the terms of all canons be understood in their proper sense, that ministerium and munus, when mentioned in any canon be understood thus, and to undertake a study of the entire Code of Canon Law and canonical tradition, in the case of the doubt as to whether ministerium can suppose for munus. They did no such thing in February of 2013, as Mons. Arrieta affirmed to me.
Seventh, the Cardinals violated canon 332 §2, which requires them to recognize a papal renunication only if the Pope renounces his munus, and does so freely and manifests this duly. But since a good number of the Cardinal Electors were present in the Consistory of Feb. 11, 2013, they heard with their own ears that he made errors in Latin and that he said ministerium not munus, in the crucial core section of the Declaratio. They also heard him say munus twice before that. So they had indisputable canonical evidence that the Pope knew what he was doing, knew how to distinguish munus from ministerium, and did NOT intend to renounce his munus.
The Cardinals violated the Catholic Faith in the Papacy
Seven years ago, today, the College of Cardinals violated the Catholic Faith in the papacy. First, in the strict sense of the Faith, namely, that there can only be one pope. Because, it was clear already by March 3, 2013, that Pope Benedict XVI by his own decision was going to retain the papal dignity by using the title “Pope Emeritus”. There was at least one scholarly refutation of the validity of this published on March 3, 2013 by Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S. J., former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University at Rome. So they could not be ignorant of the fact. The same canonical scholar that week affirmed that a heretical pope loses office immediately. So in choosing an obvious heretic as Pope they also violated the Catholic Faith.
The Cardinals showed their utter contempt for Pope Benedict XVI
Seven years ago, today, the Cardinals consummated their utter contempt for Pope Benedict XVI, in that they responded with glee at his renunciation, and not with consternation and respectful attempt to dissuade him from it.
As reported in the press, in February of 2013, only one Cardinal, Cardinal Pell went on record as saying that the resignation should not happen. He said this before Feb. 28, 2013. He was also the first Cardinal the Vatican allowed to be prosecuted after February of 2013. Hmm.
Respect and reverence for the Holy Father, especially when frail and aged, requires first of all that the Cardinals assist him in executing his will, not obstructing it nor allowing it to be executed in an invalid manner.
Yet it also requires, out of gratitude, that they attempt to convince a good man not to resign. If they omit that, they are basically saying he is not a good man or that they despise him.
And they showed their contempt, not only in sentiment, but by positive canonical ommissions, in seemingly in several ways, because in February of 2013 none of them were under a pontifical secret, yet in 7 years they never have confirmed — to my knowledge — in any interview that they did not do the following:
They did not ask Pope Benedict to explain to them why he made his decision or what it meant, to make sure he was resigning freely.
They did not ask Pope Benedict to correct the 40 errors in the Latin text which he read, before it was published, so as to prevent the shame of such a thing staining the last act of his papacy and the Apostolic See.
They did not investigate or question Archbishop Gänswein and those around the pope as to the circumstance of the act to be certain that he was not manipulated or coerced.
They did not ask one another what they knew about the matter. If so, they would have discovered that Pope Benedict did not seek the counsel of others (according to Archbishop Gänswein) or refused the counsel of his better advisers (according to Archbishop Gänswein and Cardinal Brandmuller). If they had done this, they would have been altered to the necessity to examine the act further.
The consummated their disrespect through all these things and for not treating the Holy Father with that due respect for an aged man, in which one presumes frailty and therefore double checks everything to make sure it is done rightly.
For all these reasons, I think it can be said, objectively, that today marks the 7th anniversary of a day which will live in infamy in the history of the Church until the end of time and for all eternity. The Cardinals gravely failed in their duty as Cardinals and as Electors and as Bishops and Catholics. They failed also deliberately and by omission. Their failure also was canonically imputable, since the Code of Canon Law holds as presumptive, the responsibility of men with such high office to know the law and follow it.
Hence, it is objectively and canonically certain, that Bergoglio is not the pope. Because a man whose claim to the papacy is vitiated by so many canonical doubts, is not the pope, according to the ancient maxim of St. Robert Bellarmine, S. J.: a doubtful pope is not the pope.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a detail of the photograph by Tenan, which is used here in accord with the Creative Commons Atribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license explained here.
I find it very useful in arguments over legal interpretations, to restate the law verbatim and then state the law as each side wants it to read. So let’s do that with Canon 332 §2, the canon from the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983: a Code which all parties to the controversy recognize as binding and authoritative and backed up by the authority of Jesus Christ, Who said to Saint Peter: whatsoever you bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven.
First, how the Canon is wanted to be in the minds of those who say Benedict is not the pope. I will give all the versions I have seen presented in the arguments or assertions I have seen published. Please note: no one claims that the Canon’s text is as what follows, they just argue as if it means that which what follows would explicitly say:
If it ever happens that the Pope stops being the pope, the only thing required for validity is that afterwards he says he did it freely.
If it ever happens that the Pope gives up being the pope, the only thing required is that all the Cardinals agree he is no longer the pope.
If it ever happens that the Pope resigns, there is required for validity that he says he is longer pope, but not that he stops dressing as the Pope, signing as the Pope, and giving blessings as the Pope.
If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounce, there is required for validity that he did so freely, used the verb renounce, resign, give up, or leave etc., but not that he names what he renounces, resigns, gives up or leaves.
If it happens that the Cardinals say the Roman Pontiff has resigned, there is required for validity only that the Pope also say he is no longer the pope.
I think you can understand what their argument is.
Now here is that same canon, according to the arguments of those who say Pope Benedict XVI is still the pope.
If it happen that the Roman Pontiff renounces his munus, there is required for validity that the renunciation be done freely and manifested duly, but not that it be accepted by anyone whomsoever.
Now here is the actual text of the Canon in good English:
If it happen that the Roman Pontiff renounces his munus, there is required for validity that the renunciation be done freely and manifested duly, but not that it be accepted by anyone whomsoever.
If you do not trust my translation, see the Latin:
Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur.
I hope you see the significance of these comparisons.
But Canon 332 §2 does not require the Pope to say, “munus”!
This is becoming a more and more common assertion. My response to it, is, prove your case. For it is a gratuitous assertion.
I do not therefore have to disprove it. But I will disprove it.
In Latin the verb renuntiare means to announce something in a sense contrary to what was previously announced. As such it requires a verbal statement and a complete negation.
Now what did the man who is pope accept which in a renunciation he obviously must negate to make a real renunciation?
Most cannot answer this question with precision, and for that reason they cannot understand the controversy nor evaluate it precisely.
The correct answer to my question is his acceptance of that to which he was elected.
Now, what is that to which a man is elected when in accepting he become the pope?
This second question has to be answered with precision, or else one does not understand the controversy, which is a canonical controversy, not a political, moral, religious, or textual controversy, in its essence.
The correct answer to this, my second question, can only be made by having recourse to the Code of Canon Law to see what is that which a man who is pope has or receives or accepts when he becomes the pope.
Surprisingly, the correct answer is not what you think. In the Code of Canon Law the pope is not called the pope! He is called the Roman Pontiff. See canons 331, 332, 333 and 749 if you do not believe me.
And what is it that he accepts, receives or has to make him the Roman Pontiff?
Again, the answer is not obvious. That is why this controversy is badly understood by many. The correct answer is the petrine munus. If you do not believe me, see canons 331, 332, 333 and 749, where the word munus is found every time for the papal office. The Code of Canon Law never calls the office of the pope the “papal office” nor the “papacy”. That is why all those canonists who say that for a valid renunciation a pope needs to signify the renunciation of the papal office are wrong ACCORDING TO THE CURRENT NORMS OF CANON LAW. Before 1983, when the 1917 Code of Canon Law was in force, their opinion was correct. But no longer, because in canon 332 §2, John Paul II added a word to NAME that which the Pope has to renounce: munus.
But Pope Benedict XVI HAS NEVER SAID: I renounce my munus, the petrine munus, or the munus of the Roman Pontiff. Rather, by continually claiming to have the papal dignity he makes it quite clear that he never even intended to renounce that.
Also, from any exhaustive study of the Code of Canon Law, one can see that the word munus does NOT mean ministerium. So even if Canon 332 did not require the pope to say the word munus, it cannot be denied that it required him to renounce that which munus signifies. But ministerium does not signify that. Therefore the renunication is invalid to effect the loss of the munus. And therefore Pope Benedict XVI is still the pope.
I have watched Steve Skojek’s argumentation over the last 14 months go from straw man arguments, to unreasoning blather, to insults and vicious invective against almost anyone who would point out the unreasonableness of his approach to the problems with the Declaratio of Pope Benedict XVI and its consequences in the Church.
And I have kept silent about it, except for a passing comment here and there, here at FromRome.Info, because I am not concerned with nit picking the sophistries of immature people who do not have the intellectual or moral integrity to discuss something honestly as an adult. I am concerned with the truth of history in this matter, not in the sense of what people might write about it now or in the future, but in the sense of what really did happen, and what it really does mean in canonical and theological terms.
But as Skojec’s private magisterium has become a personal superstition and grows daily among some minds as a cult of superstition, I consider it necessary to say something, because I want every one to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And for this, error must be refuted, by all who can ably refute it.
So I will broach this topic by commenting on some twitter conversations, the screen shots I was given. Here Steve comments on two groups, as he calls them, the Sedevacantists and the Bennyvacantists. Steve says he did not invent the latter term, but he keeps using it as a 13 yr old petulant school-boy uses a phrase he thinks is cool, but which makes him appear in reality stupid. Because by the term, Steve thinks he is referring to those who hold that Pope Benedict is still the pope, but the term obviously refers to those who think that Benedict vacated the see. So the term really refers to himself. The other term, for those who do not know, refers to those who think there have been no popes since Pius XII. — So of these 2 groups, Steve says:
Steve, if my sources are correct, has admitted to taking one introductory course to Canon Law at Steubenville, where he graduated. My sources tell me that Steve also cannot read the Code of Canon Law, because he does not read Latin. So he reads it, when he does, in the English translation, which, as I have mentioned many times, is both not authoritative and full of errors. As far as I know, also, Steve has never tried to investigate the matter further than his limit of knowledge and has not gone to Rome to speak with anyone about the questions of law or fact. — I have it that he corresponds or at least knows Ryan Grant, whom I showed the other day does not know the basic principles of Canon Law. Ryan, himself, though he is a published translator, is not a very good one. The passages I have examined in his translation of Saint Alphonsus have more than one error in every sentence, and hence I conclude they are worthless for anyone to use.
For this reason, I think that Steve’s first tweet, above, is very honest. I do not think he has the intellectual preparation to see the differences or appreciate them. Even if he knew what they are. Sedevacantists are a group of individuals who do not care about the Church in the least. They only care about condemning others so that like Jansenists they can revel in a being better than everyone else kind of spirit. Catholics, on the other hand, when they encounter schism and heresy, do something about it, by either trying to reconcile the parties involved or seeking their canonical solutions, because their love is for the Church and for the salvation of souls.
That is why, if you love the Church, you can probably see the difference between Sedevacantists and Catholics. It is not just an argument over what was said by so and so and whether that is heretical or not. Though, Sedes nearly always get this wrong, because they have an animus to find fault where not as much fault is found as they would want, in order to continually justify themselves as better than everyone else.
Catholics, concerned about the canonical problems in the Declaratio of Pope Benedict XVI, are obviously not interested at all in themselves, they are interested solely in the good of the entire Church and solving the problems at the root. To deny that is merely a glib ad hominem of a person who cares nothing for the Church and has no consideration for the possibility that his fellow man might actually care for the common good of the Church. His desire, rather, is always to put him down, because that is the only way to prove his superiority.
In his next, tweet Steve recites his straw man argument, which he brings out and dangles about like a shaman does with the bones of a dead man, before reciting an incantation on cue. Steve has been shown by many interlocutors over the past year that the opinion of John of Saint Thomas about universal acceptance refers to a canonical election, not to a doubtful or uncanonical election — taking doubt here in the objective positive sense. — So his continued appeal to universal acceptance is simply dishonest. And his continued use of it as a dogma is superstition.
At this point A. J. Baalman shares a series of tweets, drawing on the commentary on Canons 332, 187 and 188 made by Cathy Caridi on her blog, Canon Law Made Easy, which I reviewed yesterday. A. J. says:
Notice how Steve brings out his straw man, again, and rattles it in the air, as if by such an incantation you can participate in a rational argument. He omits the word “canonical” in front of “papal” once again, to make it seem more supportive of his position. But here he goes one step further. There can be no question of an problematic papal election so long as it was accepted. No need to investigate. — I do not know what others might thing about such a line of reasoning, but it sounds to me the kind of thing a canon lawyer working for the Lavender Mafia might use, because it really aids and abets almost any possible course of corruption and interference in a papal election, as to defy rational explanation. No honest man can reason thus.
A. J., counters and insists on an investigation, and Steve responds:
Steve says an investigation should be done, but it won’t be completed in the life time of the Pope or of Bergoglio. That is a very bold claim coming from someone who is not an investigator and who has shown no inclination to examine the facts already presented in the historical record. It is also another attempt at gaslighting, because it takes about 5 seconds to see the Renunciation is invalid.
Because all you have to do is 1) see that the Latin of Canon 332 §2 says munus, and that the Latin of the Declaratio says ministerium, and 2) recognize that what you do not renounce, you keep.
I am impressed with the growing number of canonists who off the record are admitting that they recognize that Pope Benedict is still the true pope, because his renunciation was doubtful. While the fact that nearly all of them work for the Church, prevents the ones I have spoken with from being eager for public recognition of their stand, others have in the past admitted the truth of the problem.
One Canonist who spoke explicitly about the issue was Cathy Caridi, J.C.L.. Those letters after her name signify that she eared a Licentiate in Canon Law from a faculty recognized by the Apostolic See.
In a post, entitled, Can a Pope ever resign?, she explicitly discusses the meaning of Canon 332 §2 and what it requires.
Only one canon of the entire Code of Canon Law makes any mention of this. Canon 332.2 states that if it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that his resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it isn’t necessary that it be accepted by anyone. At first glance, it may strike readers as a rather odd thing to say at all! But when it’s read in the context of the entire Code of Canon Law and viewed in light of Catholic ecclesiology, it makes perfect sense. After all, the Pope is a bishop, the Bishop of Rome
After discussing the renunciation Bishops, she returns to the discussion of the Pope, addressing conditions for the renunciation, in order, first liberty. And refers her readers to Canon 187, which explains in what the necessary liberty consists.
But it is the next part, that she makes the explosively correct statements about the facts of law, that nearly everyone has been ignoring for 7 years:
The very next canon talks about external forces being brought to bear on a person who resigns his office. Canon 188 observes that a resignation is invalid if it is made because of unjustly inflicted grave fear, deceit, substantial error, or simony. How would this panoply of situations apply to the Pope.
What is nearly prophetic about what she says, is that she touches upon a pope who on account of a misunderstanding, resigns incorrectly and thus, whose resignation IS INVALID IN VIRTUE OF CANON 188:
“Substantial error” is harder to envision in the case of a papal resignation. Such error can theoretically occur if the person holding an ecclesiastical office incorrectly thinks that (for example) he is required to submit his resignation after holding it for a certain number of years, or when his superior dies and is replaced by someone else. A resignation that is made as the result of such a misunderstanding is invalid under canon 188. When it comes to the Pope, who knows full well that his office is intended to last until his death, it is difficult to imagine that he could make such a mistake!
Here she uses a classic example of a substantial error which arises out of errors of fact or law, using timing as the example. An error is called substantial, because it corrupts the whole substance of the juridical act. As one can see from canon 126, this can occur through several causes. Caridi was not a prophetess, so she did not discuss errors which arise from renouncing the wrong thing, however.
Finally, she boldly affirms that an ambiguous renunciation is invalided by Canon 332 §2 itself, in its clause on due manifestation:
We can now see all that canon 332.2’s phrase “freely made” entails. But there is definite uncertainty about the exact meaning of another phrase of canon 332.2 which asserts that a Pope’s resignation has to be “properly manifested.” Would the Pope have to announce it in the presence of the College of Cardinals, for example? Nobody really knows—but since the Pope is the Church’s Supreme Legislator, he can interpret this law however he wishes. In the end, therefore, it wouldn’t really matter, so long as the Pope’s decision was expressed clearly, i.e., neither ambiguously nor secretly.
You might be scratching your head, right now, and asking why no one has ever spoke of Caridi’s opinion before? Why did it not cause a controversy or storm of arguments?
That is because, what I just quoted, came from a post on her blog, Canon Law Made Easy, from January 2013, when the Catholic world was still Catholic and Trad Inc. was still sane!
Here at FromRome.Info, unlike many other blogs and websites, we keep the same categories and meanings of words and laws as they were on Feb. 10, 2013. We do not change.
Modernists change the meanings of things to push the revolution they back.
So when next you hear someone say, Bergoglio is certainly the pope, ask them, on what day they changed the meanings of the words in the Code of Canon Law!
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a screen capture of the blog page of Cathy Caridi cited in this article. The quotations from her blog are used here according to the fair use standard for editorial commentary.
So much has been written about Pope Benedict’s renunciation of Feb. 11, 2013, that it is easy to forget or miss important articles. Since a lot of visitors who come to The From Rome Blog want to read about Benedict’s renunciation, it is helpful to have in one post, a list of all the Articles published here.
This is a topical, not chronological list: that is, it lists articles according to what aspect of the controversy they principally deal with, not according to the date they were published.
Andrea Cionci:The Renunciation that was written to break the bank, English translation of the article which appeared in the Italian Daily, the Libero, June 11, 2020, and which shook the Church in Italy. The Bishop’s Daily responded only by personal attacks.
Andrea Cionci’s “Possible Reconstruction of Benedict’s Plan B”, published here in English as, “Benedict XVI’s Masterstroke against Globalism and Freemasonry” (PDF and Online Version), which is the MOST complete reconstruction according to the words and statements of Pope Benedict XVI. — A MUST READ, DROP EVERYTHING NOW!
What Pope Benedict says His resignation means and meant
December 18, 2018 — A silent secret Coup d’Etat occured at the Vatican nearly 6 years ago, the facts of which case have only recently come to light. The leading figures in the takeover were Cardinals Sodano and Bergoglio. Sodano, the former, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, charged with calling a Conclave in the event of the death or valid resignation of the Roman Pontiff; the Latter, the head of the Saint Gallen Mafia, which had plotted since 2004 to take over the Church and transform the Catholic Religion into a hollow mockery of the Gospel.
The coup d’etat was put in motion by the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign from active ministry on February, 11th, which he announced to the world in the Latin text, “Non solum propter”. (For the original text and English translation, see here). The carefully worded text, based on the distinction put forward by Karl Rahner in 1974, in his work, Vorfragen zu einem okumenischen Amtsverstandnis, that one could retain the munus petrinum and share the ministerium petrinum, renounced the latter and explicitly affirmed the holding of the former.
This very obscure distinction in the Latin text allowed a coup d’etat, that is an unlawful take over of the Vatican. Because, according to the norm of Canon Law, the Cardinal Deacon was NOT empowered by the act of resignation to call a Conclave. Nay, he was obliged to confer with his Holiness as to the nature of the Vicar he wanted to appoint to govern the Vatican in his retirement, and ask direction on how the institution of the College of Cardinals could accomplish this, since the rules of a Conclave only regard the election of a successor not a Vicar sharing the active ministry.
No sooner had Pope Benedict XVI read his text, that Cardinal Sodano began to play up the event, by saying out-loud in Italian: “‘Holiness, this news catches us like a lightning bolt in a clear blue sky.’” (source)
Then the Italian journalist, Giovanna Chirri, a pool reporter for the Italian News Cooperative, ANSA, after attempting to speak with Cardinal Sodano by phone, following the consistory, and receiving the go ahead from Fr. Lombardi, ran the fake news story that the Pope had resigned his office. She went to far in later reports to claim that she understands Latin perfectly, and that the renunciation was unequivocal!
Amazingly, Chirri announced this “news” via Twitter! Here is the historic tweet, upon which the entire Catholic world bases its idea that Benedict resigned the papacy!
B16 si e' dimesso. Lascia pontificato dal 28 febbraio
However, the full responsibility and liability for the decision to call a Conclave to elect another Pope — during the lifetime of a Pope who only retired from active ministry, but did not resign his office — must be laid at the feet of Cardinal Sodano. That he was urged to this by the Saint Gallen Mafia may be supposed, but the evidence from the Law of the Church is indisputable. As Canon 332 §2 reads in its official form, which in Latin — a Latin in which Cardinal Sodano is fluent, says:
CANON 332 § 2. Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur.
The law of the Church is clear: a pope resigns when he resigns his Munus (muneri suo renuntiet). And the validity of such a resignation arises from the act itself when it is conform with the norm of law (rite manifestetur) and is free.
The crime of Sodano consists in the pretense he made, based on the common translations of that Canon into modern languages, that you could renounce the office of the papacy without renouncing the petrine munus.
Obviously, canonically speaking, its impossible to demonstrate that a renunciation of ministerium is a due and proper manifestation of a renunciation of munus according to the norm of law, when the law itself says that papal resignations regard only the munus.*
Cardinal Sodano was of an age in which he could not vote in any further Conclaves, but by summoning a Conclave to elect another pope AND omitting a conference with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, he set in motion a revolution which resulted in Jorge Mario Bergoglio seizing control of the Vatican government and presenting himself to the world as the Vicar of Christ.
How many of the Cardinals who attended the Conclave of 2013 raised questions about this is not yet publicly known. However, its not a question of any form of secrecy to which they were or are bound, since if any of them noticed the sleight of hand of Sodano, he would have spoken about it before the Conclave began.
Today it is evident to the whole Catholic world that Bergoglio is an Anti-Pope in the sense that he has not the Faith of the Church and daily attacks the Faith. May God grant that Catholics everywhere read the Latin text of Canon 332 §2 to see that a renunciation of active ministry does not renounce the papal office, and that therefore the Conclave of 2013 was illicity convened and uncanonical, and that Bergoglio was never the Pope, never the Bishop of Rome, never the Successor of Saint Peter.
* Can. 17 — Leges ecclesiasticae intellegendae sunt secundum propriam verborum significationem in textu et contextu consideratam; quae si dubia et obscura manserit, ad locos parallelos, si qui sint, ad legis finem ac circumstantias et ad mentem legislatoris est recurrendum.
Cardinal Sodano was obliged, by this canon, in the matter of any doubt concerning whether the act of Benedict XVI was valid per canon 322 §2, to look in the Code itself for the usage of ministerium and munus. However, in the Code there is no equation of these two terms. Not finding one, he would be obliged to look at the canonical history of the term munus in papal resignations, in which in previous resignations the word munus, not ministerium, has always been used. So he had no grounds to call a Conclave. (cf. Dos graves razones, by Juan Suárez Falcó, and Fr. Stefano Violi, The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience)
Recently, the noted Vatican theologian, and former member of the Congregation for the Faith, Msgr. Nichola Buxpublicly opined that the validity of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI should be studied in regard to the question of what appears to be substantial error in the formula of resignation. (For a correct English translation of the formula, see here).
Msgr. Bux was not the first to raise this issue. In fact, doubts as to the validity of the act of resignation were raised immediately upon the news being made known. Flavien Blanchon, a French journalist working at Rome, writing only 2 days afterwards, cited an eminent Latin scholar who pointed out errors in the text of abdication, and who noted that the presence of any error, according to canonical tradition, was held to be a sign of lack of deliberation, rendering the act null and void. These errors in the Latin were also reported by Luciano Canfora, Corriere della Serra, Feb. 12, 2013, p. 17.
More importantly, the famous Italian Philosopher, Prof. Enrico Radaelli wrote a supplication to Pope Benedict XVI, on Feb. 18, begging him to withdraw the resignation, because, inasmuch as it was done in a secular fashion, it would result in the consequent election of an Anti-Pope. His article was entitled: Perché Papa Ratzinger-Benedetto XVI dovrebbe ritirare le sue dimissioni: non è ancora tempo per un nuovo papa, perché sarebbe quello di un Anti-Papa. (Link to text with commentary, here). Which warning, alas, was ignored, even by myself at the time, for frivolous reasons.
Then a year later, the famous Italian controversialist, Antonio Socciopenly speculated that the resignation might be invalid on account of the lack of interior will given by Benedict. In the same year, a very noteworthy study published by a Professor in canon law at the Theological Institute of Legano, Switzerland, in 2014 by Fr. Stefano Violi, which discussed canonically the renunciation: The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience, without, however, raising the question of its invalidity. (Its a must read on account of its rich citation to the canonical history of papal resignations, despite its glaring error of affirming that a novel way of resigning was fulling in accord with Tradition!) — However, the study by the professor of Canon Law at the Faculty of Theology, Lugano, Switzerland, by identifying the matter of the renunciation to regard the active ministry, not the munus, made it clear that the question of substantial error invalidating the resignation was a real question, founded upon the text of the act itself.
On Nov. 14, 2014, in a public conference, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, “the Fatima Priest” of Canada, affirmed of Pope Benedict, on Feb 11, 2013, that “whatever he was doing, he was not resigning the papacy”.
However, on June 19, 2016, the USA citizen Ann Barnhardt raised specifically the question of a doubt arising from canon 188, which cites substantial error as sufficient grounds to establish the grounds for a canonical determination of invalidity in any resignation. She did this following the remarkable comments by Pope Benedict’s personal Secretary on May 20th earlier, in which he claimed that Benedict still occupied the Papal Office (Full Text, English Translation).
Barnhard was not the first to make such an observation. Dr. Cathy Caridi, JCL, a canonist, openly speculated in January of 2013, more than a month before Pope Benedict XVI acted, that a substantial error in a papal renunciation could in fact invalidate it in virtue of Canon 188.
Msgr. Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas, in the United States, and a former member of Opus Dei, has also sustained this same doubt and others regarding the validity of the resignation. I understand that the Bishop has written many members of the Sacred Hierarchy and Curia about these matters urging action be taken (He suggests a public declaration by 12 pre-Bergoglian Cardinals).
On August 11, 2017, the popular Catholic TV program from Colombia, founded by Dr. Galat and know as Cafe con Galat, in an English edition, discussed why Pope Benedict XVI is still the true pope. While this program emphasizes the lack of freedom in the act, it does include the matter regarding the lack of conformity to Canon 332 §2 and canon 188.
Sometime before March of this year, Fr. Paul Kramer, a priest from the United States of America sustained also that canon 188 nullified the resignation, on account of the lack of the resignations conformity to canon 332 §2 in mentioning ministerium rather than munus.
In May of this year, at the latest, the Spaniard Fr. Juan Juarez Falcon expounded the canonical reason for the invalidity of the resignation, on the basis of substantial error, in an article entitled, “Dos Graves Razones”. Dr. José Alberto Villasana Munguía followed from Mexico on June 27th, concurring with his opinion.
There being a number of notable Catholics sustaining this doubt, and since Msgr. Bux called for an investigation of this matter, I will add here in Scholastic Form, some arguments in favor of sustaining it, in course of which I will refute all substantial arguments against it. In the course of time, as I find other arguments, or think of new ones, I will add them to this list.
All the arguments for and against should be understood in context of canon 124 §1, which reads: For the validity of a juridic act it is required that the act is placed by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act.
Can. 188, A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.
And Canon 322 §2: If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his munus, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and be properly manifested (rite manifestatur), but not that it be accepted by anyone at all.
Its also important to note, for native speakers of German, that the German translation of the Code of Canon Law gives the erroneous translation of munus as Dienst in canon 145 §1, where munus if it be translated at all, should be rendered Verantwortung, which is a proper synonym of the Latin munus, as an onus. Moreover, the correct sense of munus in canon 332 §2 is “office, charge and gift of grace” (Amt, Verantwortung, Geschenk der Gnade), not ministry or service (dienst), for only this full sense of munus, as an officium, onus, donum reflects the magisterial teaching of Pope Boniface VIII in his rescript, Quoniam.
Whether Pope Benedict XVI by means of the act expressed in his address, “Non solum propter”, resigned the office of the Bishop of Rome?
And it seems that he did not:
1. First, because substantial error, in an act of resignation, regards the vis verborum, or signification of the words, as they regard the form and matter of the act. But the act of renouncing a ministry regards one of the proper accidents of the office [cf. canon 41] by which that ministry can be rightfully exercised. Therefore, if one renounces a ministry, he does not renounce the office. And if he believes to have renounced the office, by renouncing one of the ministries, he is in substantial error as to the signification of the words he has used. But in the text, Non Solum Propter, Benedict XVI renounces the ministerium which he received as Bishop of Rome, when he was elected. Therefore, to understand that act as a renunciation of the office is to be in substantial error as to the effect of the act. Therefore as per canon 188, the resignation is invalid.
2. Saint Peter the Apostle exercised many ministries in many places. But no one is the real successor of Saint Peter except the Bishop of Rome (canon 331). If one renounces a petrine ministry, therefore, he does not renounce the office of Bishopric of Rome (cf. canons 331 & 332), who has other ministries in virtue of his office. Therefore, if one believes he has renounced the Bishopric of Rome by renouncing a petrine ministry, he is in substantial error, and thus as per canon 188, the resignation is invalid.
3. According to Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 12) there are diverse graces, ministries and offices in the Church, inasmuch as the Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore, since the Bishop of Rome can exercise several of these ministries, it follows that one does not renounce the Bishopric of Rome if one renounces one of these ministries, since no one ministry is coextensive with the Bishopric of Rome. Ergo in such a renunciation, if one believes he has sufficiently signified the renunciation of the Bishopric of Rome, he is in substantial error. Therefore, as per canon 188, the resignation is invalid.
4. According to Seneca (Moral Essays, vol. 3, John W. Basore, Heineman, 1935), one must distinguish between benefices, offices and ministries. Benefices are that which are given by an alien, offices by sons, mothers and others with necessary relationships, and ministries by servants who do what superiors do not do. The Petrine ministry is a service to the Church. But the office of the Bishop of Rome is a duty to Christ. If one renounces the ministry of a servant, he does not renounce the office of a son. Ergo in such a renunciation etc…
5. The validity of an act of resignation cannot be founded upon the subjective definition of words, or the mere intention of the one renouncing. If that were the case, the interpretation would make the act an act of resignation. The act itself would not declare it. But the Church is a public society founded by the Incarnate Living God. Therefore, the renunciation of offices must be not only intentional but public, to give witness to the fact that the office was established by the Living and Incarnate God. But the office of the Bishop of Rome is such an office. Ergo in such a renunciation etc..
6. As Msgr. Henry Gracida argues on his blog, abyssum.org: If Christ did not accept the resignation of Benedict as valid, because the act itself was not canonically valid per canon 188, then Christ would be obliged in justice to deprive Bergoglio of grace, so that his lack of being pope be MOST EVIDENT to all with Faith, Hope and Charity. But it is MOST EVIDENT to everyone, even non Catholics, that he has NOT the grace of God in him or in his actions. Ergo, either Christ is unjust, or Christ is just. He cannot be unjust. Ergo, Bergoglio is not pope! But the Cardinals hold that his election was in accord with the procedures required by the Papal Law on Elections. Therefore, if he is not the pope, it can only be because someone else is still the Pope. Therefore, Benedict is still the pope, because in a resignation of this kind, the substantial error of renouncing the ministry, rather than the munus, renders it invalid.
7. Likewise, Christ prayed for Peter that his faith might not fail, and so that he could confirm his brethren in the Apostolic College. Now this prayer of Christ must be efficacious, since Christ is God and the Beloved Son of the Eternal Father, and because of the office of Saint Peter is not something merely useful to the Body of Christ, but necessary in matters of faith and unity. Therefore, Christ’s prayer for the Successors of Saint Peter must be efficacious in some manner as regards the faith and unity of the Church. But Bergoglio manifestly attacks both the faith and unity of the Church. Far be it, therefore, to judge that in this one man Christ’s prayer was not intended to be effective. Ergo, Bergoglio is not a valid successor of Saint Peter! But the Cardinals hold that his election was in accord with the procedures required by the Papal Law on Elections. Therefore, if he is not the pope, it can only be because someone else is still the Pope. Therefore, Benedict is still the pope, because in a resignation of this kind, the substantial error of renouncing the ministry, rather than the munus, renders it invalid.
8. From the text of the act of resignation. Pope Benedict admits in the first sentence that he holds the munus petrinum. But further down, he says he renounces the ministerium which he had received as Bishop of Rome. Therefore, he has not renounced the munus. But munus means office and gift of grace (cf. Canon 145 §1 and Paul VI, Christus Dominus). Therefore, he has not stated that he has renounced the office and gift of grace. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..
9.From the sense of the Latin tongue, which lacks the definite and indefinite article. When you say: Renuntio ministerio, you do not say whether you have renounced the ministry or a ministry. Therefore, you leave unsaid what ministry you have renounced. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..
10.From the papal law Universi Dominici Gregis, on Papal elections: One is not elected to the Petrine Ministry, but to be the Bishop of Rome. Therefore, unless one renounce the Bishopric of Rome one has not vacated the See of Saint Peter. But in public statements Pope Benedict XVI after March 2013 says only that he has renounced the ministerium. Therefore, he is in substantial habitual error as regards what is required in an act of resignation of the office of the Bishopric of Rome. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..
11. From the Code of Canon Law: Canonical resignations are valid if 3 things are valid: liberty from coercion, right intention, unambiguous signification. This is confirmed in canon 332, § 2 which expressly denies that the acceptance of a resignation affects is validity or non-validity. But Pope Benedict admits in his letters to Cardinal Brandmueller that his intent was to retain something of the Pontifical Dignity. His private secretary also publicly has affirmed that he occupies the See of Peter but shares the Petrine Ministry still. This is incontrovertible evidence that the act of resignation is ambiguous. For either it means he has renounced the See or has not renounced the See, that he has renounced the ministry, or has not renounced the ministry. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..
12. From Pneumetology, that is, from the theology of the Holy Spirit. After Feb 2013 the whole Church still recognizes and accepts Pope Benedict with the title of pope and with papal prerogatives. All call him Benedict, not Ratzinger or Joseph (even Bergoglio, during his visit to Panama in January 2019, exhorted the crowds to wave to “Pope Benedict XVI”.) But the whole Church cannot be deceived. Nevertheless, according to Divine Institution, the Papacy cannot be held by more than one person at one time. And he who holds it first, has the valid claim to the office. Therefore, the Church does not understand the act as one which renounces the office. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..
13. From insufficiency of intention: If a Pope renounces eating bananas, he has not renounced the office of Bishopric of Rome. Therefore, if he says, “I have renounced eating bananas, to vacate the See of Rome”, he is in substantial error as to the effect of his act. But in his text of renunciation he says he has renounced the ministry so as to vacate the see of Saint Peter [ut sedes Sancti Petri vacet]. But that is a substantial error, since the ministry is only a proper accident of the Bishopric of Rome, for to be the Bishop of Rome is the first act of its being [esse primum], to exercise the ministries of the Bishopric of Rome is the second act of its being [esse secundum]. Therefore, since the second act of being is in potency to the first act, and potency is divided from act as accident to substance, to renounce a or all ministries of an office is an act regarding the accidents not the substance of the office. Therefore, one could just as well renounce any or all of its ministries and retain the office. Therefore, by renouncing a or the ministry he does not renounce the office. Indeed, in public statements, he explicitly affirms only to have renounced the ministry. Therefore, his insufficiency of expressed intention does not save the act from substantial error. Therefore, in such a renunciation etc..
14. The Pope is not more powerful than God the Son. But God the Son in becoming the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, at the moment of Consecration, renounces all the accidents and action of His Sacred Humanity, yet remains still God and Man. Hence, even if a Pope were to renounce all his actions and ministries as Pope, he remains the Pope. But Pope Benedict XVI in his declaration of Feb. 11, 2013, renounces only the ministerium of his office, not the office. Therefore, he remains the Pope.
15. If you get up from your chair, but to not give the chair to another, the chair becomes vacant but remains your property. Now the office of St. Peter’s Successor is to Saint Peter’s Successor as a throne is to the one enthroned. So if a Pope renounces the ministry of his office, but not the office, even if he intends by such a renunciation that the Throne of St. Peter be vacant, he does not cede his right and holding of the office. So when Pope Benedict writes declaro me ministerio … renuntiare ita ut Sedes Petri vacet its clear that while he renounces serving as Pope, he does not renounce the Papacy.
16. If any President, Prime Minister or father of a family renounces fulfilling the duties of his office, he nevertheless has not ceased to be President, Prime Minister or father. Likewise with the Pope, if he textually renounces only the ministry of his office, he has not lost his office.
17. God, who is Being, as the institutor of the Office of Peter, cannot regard as resigned from the office of the Successor of Saint Peter, any Roman Pontiff, validly elected, who only renounces accidents or second acts of the being of that office. But Pope Benedict XVI renounced only the ministerium, or exercise of the office, which he had received, not the munus, which is the office itself [cf. Canons 332 §2 and 749 §1]. Therefore, since the exercise of office is the second act of the being of the office, God cannot acknowledge such a resignation as valid. And if God does not recognize it as valid, neither can the Church. Therefore, in such a resignation, etc..
18. The essence of ‘being the Pope’ is the dignity of the office held. The essence of a ministry is the service rendered. Therefore, just as renunciation of a service does not cause the loss of dignity, so the renunciation of the Petrine Ministry does not cause the loss of Papal office. Therefore, in such a resignation, etc..
19. In Canon Law ministerium is not the locus of right (ius), that is found only in sacraments (sacramenta) and offices (munera). Therefore, he who renounces ministerium, renounces no right. But Pope Benedict XVI in his renunciation, Non solum propter, renounces the ministerium he received from the hands of the Cardinals. Therefore, he does not renounce any right. And if he renounces no right, he retains all rights, and thus remains the Pope. If it be objected, that he renounced the ministerium so as to vacate the See of St. Peter (ita ut Sedes S Petri vacet), it must be responded that, since vacare, in Latin has 2 senses: that of conceding right and that of simply going away, as on a vacation, the assertion of renouncing ministerium so as to vacet the Roman See implies no necessity of signifying a renunciation of right. Therefore, in such a resignation etc..
20. As the learned canonists Juan Juárez Falcó argues: Canon 332 which is the only canon regarding Papal renunciations speaks of the renunciation of the munus, not of the ministerium. But Benedict XVI speaks only of renouncing the ministerium, not the munus. Ergo per canon 188, the renunciation is invalid to effect a renunciation of munus. But as per canon 145, the munus is the office. Therefore, in such a resignation, etc..
For the arguments, to the Contrary, and their refutations, seepart II.
As the eminent Canon Lawyer, Fr. Juan Ignacio Arrieta, says, commenting on Canon 126: When the ignorance or error regards the essential object of the act, … then the act must be considered as never having been posited, invalid. (Codice di Diritto Canonico, e Leggi Complementari: Commentato, Coletti a San Pietro, 2004, commentary on canon 126).
Hence, it appears, that if a Pope were to intend to retire from active ministry, but retain the Papal Office in all its fullness, that he could just as well read out loud the statement made by Pope Benedict XVI, Non solum propter, since the vis verborum of that text is that he renounced the ministry of the office of the Bishop of Rome, but not the office. Herein lies the substantial error, and thus that act of Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013 must be judged to be invalid, as per canon 188, if it be asserted to be an act of resignation of the office of Bishop of Rome. However, if one were to assert that it is only the act of renunciation of active ministry, not of office, then yes, it should be said to be a valid act, containing no substantial error.
In Conclusion, Philosophical Reason
Though there can be many kinds of substantial error in an act of resignation, there is NONE more SUBSTANTIAL than the one which involves confusing the accidents of the office to be resigned as sufficient terms to signify the substance of the office itself. Now, according to canon 188, where substantial error is present in such an act, the act is invalid in its effect “by the law itself”. Therefore, the text of Non solum propter, of Benedict XVI does not effect validly his resignation from the office of the Bishopric of Rome.
In Conclusion, Canonical Reason
This is corroborated by undisputed facts of law, namely that the only Canon in the Code of Canon Law, Canon 322 §2, which speaks expressly of a papal resignation, requires that the man who is pope resign the munus and do so rite (i.e. properly according to the norms of law). But the text of Benedict’s resignation speaks only of a renunciation of ministerium. Therefore, since it regards an act wholly outside the meaning of Canon 332 §2, the act is invalid to effect a Papal resignation. It is also thus invalid to effect the same by the law itself, according to Canon 188, and by canon 126.
Indeed, the inherent separability of ministerium from munus in Ecclesiastical history and canonical tradition is the fundamental reason why no renunciation of ministerium can be equated in law as a due manifestation of the resignation of an office. For that reason, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI made through the act, Non solum propter, of February 11, 2013 A.D., has no valid canonical effect regarding the office of the Papacy. He remains the Pope, therefore, with all rights and privileges.
On which account, as a baptized Roman Catholic, Italian Citizen and legal resident of the City of Rome, I call upon the Italian Government to invoke its right, as a party to the Lateran Pact and its subsequent agreements, to convene the entire Clergy of the Diocese of Rome, to judge in tribunal, just as they did in A. D. 1046 at Sutri, at the command of the Germany King Henry III, the validity of the claim to office of Popes Benedict and Francis, namely, whether the act of renunciation of Benedict XVI was valid as to a renunciation of office, and if not, to declare the Conclave of 2013 canonically invalid ex radicibus.
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