In High Scholasticism, the Catholic Theologians, Saints and Doctors of the Church often considered many questions which were speculative, either in regard to what was true but unknowable by man (being hid in the mystery of God) or what could be in a special circumstance which may or may not ever come to be. As founder of The Scholasticum, an Italian non profit dedicated to the revival of the Scholastic Method, I believe that the Scholastic Method can greatly assist the Church even in Her most pressing needs and extraordinary crises. For that reason, I present here a Disputed Question, the import of which may arise, if His Holiness Benedict XVI pass to the Lord before Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and then only if, at such a time, the Cardinals holding fast to the faulty notion that Benedict’s resignation was valid, fail to convene within 20 days to elect his successor. For in accord with the current law on Papal Elections, Universi Dominici Gregis, n.37 Cardinals who do not attend a Conclave with that period no longer have their votes counted. (All references are to the new Code of Canon Law, Latin text; and the papal law on electing the Pope, Latin test.)
Whether, with all Cardinal electors defecting, the Roman Church has the right to elect the Pope?
And it seems that she does not:
1. For only the Cardinals of the Roman Church have the right to elect the Roman Pontiff, according to what is stated in Canon 349, where it says cui competit ut electioni Romani Pontificis provideat ad normam iuris peculiaris. Therefore, since the Roman Church includes those Cardinals, Bishops and Clergy who are not Cardinal Electors, they have no such right. Therefore, the Church of Rome has no right to elect a Pope, even if all the Cardinal Electors fail to elect one.
2. Likewise, since the College of Cardinals has no authority during a Sede Vacante to act other than what is provided for in special law, namely, in the Law for Papal Elections, Universi Dominici Gregis, and this according to Canon 359, which reads: Sede Apostolica vacante, Cardinalium Collegium ea tantum in Ecclesia gaudet potestate, quae in peculiari lege eidem tribuitur; It follows that neither does the Roman Church, because what is denied a superior, is denied also to the inferior. But the College of Cardinals is denied license to act in any other way that what is proscribed in law, therefore also the entire Church of Rome which is inferior to the College.
3. Likewise, since the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, n.4, expressly forbids any variation or alteration in law during a Sede Vacante, when it says: Sede Apostolica vacante, leges a Romanis Pontificibus latas non licet ullo modo corrigi vel immutari, neque quidquam detrahi iis sive addi vel dispensari circa partes earum, maxime eas, quae ad ordinandum negotium electionis Summi Pontificis pertinent. Si quid contra hoc praescriptum fieri vel attentari contigerit, id suprema Nostra auctoritate nullum et irritum declaramus; there is nothing which the Roman Church can do, even if all the Cardinals defect, since there is no provision in Canon Law for such action.
4. Likewise, the ancient right of the Roman Church to elect the Roman Pontiff was abrogated when that right was restricted to the Roman Clergy, and again, when that right was further restricted to the Cardinals of the Roman Church. Therefore, no such right exists.
5. Likewise, the ancient right of the Roman Church to elect the Pope was no more than a custom of the Roman Church. But laws of custom have no force if they have not been observed for 1300 years (cf. Canon 26). Therefore, the Roman Church has no such right.
ON THE CONTRARY:
It seems that she does:
1. By Apostolic Institution of the Apostle Saint Peter, the Roman Church undubitably enjoyed the right to elect the Roman Pontiff. This right was restricted by special degree in the 7th century to the Roman Clergy, and in 11th century to the Cardinals of the Roman Church. Yet such a restriction which was prudential and a benefice cannot extinguish the apostolic right, in accord with the principle of law, which states that general prescriptions take precedence to special benefices: Generale praescriptum beneficio speciali anteferendum est (Theodosian Code: DEM AAA. VICTORIO P(RO)C(ONSULI) ASIAE). Therefore, in the case that there are no Cardinal Electors, whether in fact or by defection to an Anti-Pope, or to a Heretical or Schismatic Church, the apostolic right of the Roman Church revives. Therefore, the Roman Church has such a right in their absence.
2. Likewise, by the Code of Canon Law, which declares that all rights which have never been revoked remain in force, according to canon 4, which reads: Iura quaesita, itemque privilegia quae, ab Apostolica Sede ad haec usque tempora personis sive physicis sive iuridicis concessa, in usu sunt nec revocata, integra manent, nisi huius Codicis canonibus expresse revocentur; but the right to elect the Roman Pontiff was indubitably granted by the Apostle Saint Peter to the Roman Church, and that right has never been revoked. Nay, it is the very justification and inherent principle maintained when the Roman Synod in the 7th century restricted the exercise of that right to the Clergy, and when the Pope in the 11th century restricted it further to the College of Cardinals. This is confirmed by canon 6 §4, which restricts the abrogation of previous laws and rights to those things which are integrally expressed in the New Code. But such case, of having no Cardinal Electors, is not provided for. Therefore, it is not integrally included. Therefore, the rights to be referred to in such a case are NOT obrogated. Therefore, that right remains in force always to be revived.
3. Likewise, the ancient right of the Roman Church to elect the Roman Pontiff was ever held to have the force of law. This is self evident from history. But as canon 25, teaches: Nulla consuetudo vim legis obtinet, nisi a communitate legis saltem recipiendae capaci cum animo iuris inducendi servata fuerit. But, such is the case with the ancient right of the Roman Church, especially since when this right was restricted, the ancient reason for it was never denied or explicitly abrogated. This is proven by the fact that the Cardinals are still called Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Therefore, in the absence of all Cardinals, whether by bad will or substantial error, the right returns to the Roman Church.
4. Likewise, custom is the best interpreter of law (Canon 27). But, when Pope John Paul II was near death, the Cardinals and Bishops in his presence presumed his consent to use his signet ring to appoint Bishops which he had already considered for nomination. And no one in the Church objected to this. Therefore, it is right to presume the consent of a lawgiver, in cases in which he never foresaw. But such is the case of a substantial error in a papal resignation, when all the Cardinals fail to notice that substantial error and are consequently led not to convene in Conclave to elect a successor, but cleave instead to an Anti-Pope which they elected uncanonically during the lifetime of the Pope. Therefore, in such an unforseen and extraordinary case, the Roman Church has a right to have recourse to the ancient law.
5. Likewise, from the principle of subsidiarity, that, namely, when a higher or more dignified part of the body politic fail, the right to act passes to the subordinate authority. This is based on the teaching of Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. It is also supported by Pope John Paul II’s Papal Law on Elections, Universi Domini Gregis, where in the Prologue, the Holy Father says expressly that the College of Cardinals is “not necessary” as an institution “for a valid papal election”. — Thus, with all the Cardinals failing, it would be wrong to deny what the lesser and subordinate organization, the Roman Church, can do. Therefore, if all the Cardinal Electors fail to act on account of an obstruction which they themselves cannot or fail to remove, the Roman Church, as the entity to which they belong by incardination, receives license to resort to the Apostolic right which it has ever enjoyed, in part or whole, of electing the Roman Pontiff.
6. Likewise, from the Code of Canon Law itself, in canon 28: nisi expressam de iis mentionem faciat, lex non revocat consuetudines centenarias aut immemorabiles; hence, since the apostolic right of the Roman Church is of time immemorial, and since that right is not expressly revoked in the present Code, it remains in force, in due circumstances. But the absence of all Cardinals Electors is not only a due circumstance, but one which puts the very constitution of the Church in the gravest danger, since the Office of Saint Peter is not only useful but necessary for the salvation of souls. Therefore, such a right cannot be considered abrogated by the new Code nor by the papal law on the Election of the Roman Pontiff, even if it seems to be expressly abrogated. Therefore, the Roman Church has such a right, in such circumstances.
I RESPOND: It must be said, that whether by good will or bad, the act of electing a Roman Pontiff during the life time of a validly elected Roman Pontiff is both a crime against God and against the unity of the Church. It is a crime against God, since Christ has ordained only one man to be pope at any given time. Its a crime against the unity of the Church, since it causes a de facto schism between those who adhere to the true Pope and those who adhere to usurper and false pretender. Now, even if the Cardinals who do this, do so without malice, but operate under substantial error, nevertheless before the law they must be held to be guilty of the sin and crime of schism, whereby they lose every office and privilege in the Church.
Now the Roman Church, which has ever held the right by apostolic privilege of electing the Roman Pontiff, enjoys in a special way the promise and right granted by Our Lord when He declares that “the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against My Church.” But the Gates of Hell would prevail against the Roman Church if she were deprived of a validly elected Pope and forced to submit to a pertinacious public heretic, apostate or Freemason. Therefore, the Church of Rome has the right to elect the Roman Pontiff, in the special case wherein all the Cardinal Electors fail to exercise their right to do so. But in accord with the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, this right must be exercised within 20 days after the death of the Roman Pontiff.
Therefore, if Pope Benedict XVI dies before Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and after 20 days no Cardinal Elector convenes in Conclave to elect his successor, the Roman Church, composed of all the Cardinals, Bishops and Clergy, incardinated in the Diocese of Rome, excluding those who adhere to the de facto schism, have the right to elect the Roman Pontiff.
For this reason, the arguments to the contrary are to be accepted, which sufficiently refute the arguments which contradict them.
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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