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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Guest Post: An Invalid Abdication

by Richard Cowden Guido
It wouldn't be the first time in Church
history that more than one man
 claimed to occupy Peter's sea

Editor's Note: This article extends the discussion of "This Disastrous Papacy" and "In Response to This Disastrous Papacy." I hope readers find it thought provoking. 

Since the great St. Vincent Ferrar incorrectly recognized an antipope as a legitimate one, arguably it is forgivable if SSPX folk & others, for a time, make a comparable error in our own era.

Nonetheless according not to any ‘authority’ of Ann Barnhardt, but rather to the overwhelming & indeed QED evidence – in particular Benedict XVI’s own words on the matter – it remains that recognizing Jorge Bergoglio as other than an antipope is an error, & a manifest one.

For contrary to assertions against that evidence, Pope Benedict did not ‘properly, licitly’ resign or abandon the papacy, but has instead publicly asserted he sought only to resign an aspect of it, while maintaining the Papal office itself.

Since – unless one holds there can be two or ten or even millions of living & reigning Pontiffs – he was not in fact free to bifurcate the Papacy, his abdication was thus invalid ‘by the law itself’ due to this ‘substantial error’ - though one hardly needs Canon Law to establish that if a Pope doesn’t fully resign his office, he doesn’t resign at all.

He accordingly, however inactive, remains the sole reigning Pontiff of the Catholic Faith, & Her Church.

Necessarily Jorge Bergoglio was thus not ‘properly, licitly and with all due process elected to the Papacy as Christ's Vicar on Earth,’ but is instead but another – according to the Encyclopedia Britannica there have been 37 notable ones – destructive antipope.

The obvious should nonetheless first be stated clearly, that the public testimony of His Holiness’s close friend & personal secretary (still, & since before Cardinal Ratzinger was elected to the Papacy), & at no less a venue than the Gregorian, is itself conclusive.

Despite the risible pretense we are obliged to ignore & dismiss that testimony & thus hold Archbishop Ganswein invented it whole cloth sans the obvious acquiescence from his friend, we are also expected not to notice – a full year now – Benedict’s failure to repudiate either the testimony or its theses. Not sure if we also have to believe this failure is due to Ratzinger being hidden in Veronica Lueken’s basement, but short of that, the Bergoglioisti are in a quandary: for His Holiness is acutely aware of the philosophical principle that silence implies consent.

Ganswein’s testimony explicitly states, & I quote, that Benedict ‘has not abandoned the Office of Peter.’

But we didn’t need Ganswein to tell us this, because Pope Benedict had already made it clear in the announcement of 11 February 2013 & in his last General Audience – so far - on 27 February that year.

For in His Holiness’s February 11 announcement of the intention to resign, he already establishes the distinctions that will soon reveal he intends not entirely to resign, but instead to create a Papal diarchy. As rendered in English, the Pontiff stated ‘I have come to the certainty that my strengths are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,’ but then immediately adds, ‘I am well aware that this ministry due to its essential spiritual nature must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer & suffering.’

The distinction is in the Latin original: for Benedict used separate words that in English are both translated as ‘ministry.’ He indeed uses ‘ministerium’ – ministry - in referring to the active ‘exercise of the Petrine ministry’ in the first quote above; while immediately following those words he uses not ‘ministerium,’ but instead ‘munus,’ which refers not to the exercise of the Papal office, but to the Office itself: ‘Bene conscius sum hoc munus secundum suam essential spiritualem non solum agendo et loquendo exsequi debere, sed non minus patiendo et orando.’

Of themselves, these distinctions don’t necessarily propose a diarchy; but they did in Benedict’s last Papal audience on 27 February. There he states that from the moment he accepted the Papacy – its munus, Peter’s Office, he belonged ‘always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church,’ & ‘that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.’

The Pontiff then immediately & portentously adds, that: ‘The "always" is also a "forever,”’ & thus accordingly ‘My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this,’ for though ‘I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter (‘Non porto piu la potesta’ dell’officio per il governo della Chiesa, ma nel servizio della preghiere resto, per cosi dire, nel resto di San Pietro.’).’‘

Alas, Ann Barnhardt wasn’t alone – wasn’t even the first – to have noticed the oddity. In fact one Stefano Violi, Professor of Canon Law at no less than the Faculty of Theology at Bologno et Lugano, in 2014 published his study with a detailed examination of Pope Benedict’s Latin abdication texts: & concluded what Ganswein would later proclaim: that His Holiness ‘did not intend to completely renounce the Papal office [munus], but only the active exercise [ministerium] thereof.’

Indeed, no less than Vittorio Messori - author of the famous Ratzinger Report & the most translated Catholic writer in the world – evaluated Violi’s study for Corriera della Sera; where he noted that ‘In the formula employed by Benedict, primarily there is a distinction between the munus, the papal office, and the execution, that is, the active exercise of the office itself: but the executio is twofold: there is the governmental aspect which is exercised agendo et loquendo (working and teaching); but there is also the spiritual aspect, no less important, which is exercised orando et patendo (praying and suffering).’

Messori then poses the key question, essentially the one Barnhardt & Kreitzer have asked: ‘Would the Church then for the first time, truly have two Popes?’ & then adds: ‘It appears this was the will of Joseph Ratzinger himself, with the renunciation of active service only,’ & this diarchy, according to Messori quoting Violi, ‘a solemn act of his magisterium.’

Either that, though devoid of any canonical, theological, or historical foundation, not to say its potential multiplicity of popes (for if one pope is free to bifurcate, so too would the bifurcated be, ad infinitum) – or there’s a disqualifying substantial error here, by the law of the Faith itself.

At any rate, the ‘clear, direct, hard evidence that Benedict did not resign,’& manifestly sought ‘to launch a novel, two Pope Papacy,’ is there for any with eyes to see, or rather for any indisposed to self-indulgent casuistry. The ‘endless speculation, gossip and tale bearing’ is not the province of those who won’t praise Jorge’s counterfeit threads.

And Benedict’s declaration that the ministerium but not the munus was vacant has no more validity than the possibility of fifty reigning popes, nor of Benedict’s confused & failed abdication. Just in passing, people apparently have thought they’ve confected a Sacrament & live for years convinced they’re married, only eventually to discover with a nullity declaration that despite the children they were wrong, were confused, didn’t understand all the implications: & if folks can misconstrue something as deep & intimate & sacred as a Sacrament, surely that applies, as here it clearly does, to something as comparatively minor as a papal abdication.

The evidence Benedict ‘did not abandon the Petrine ministry,’ & intended a diarchy is more than sufficient for moral certitude. So is the evidence that there can only be one living Pontiff, not more. And so, not least, is the evidence conspicuously revealing that Jorge Bergoglio but an antipope, & Benedict XVI, however inactive, remains the sole reigning Pontiff of the Catholic Faith, & the Church Christ bequeathed.

Richard Cowden Guido is the author of John-Paul II & the Battle for Vatican II, & editor of the Prison Letters of Joan Andrews.