by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Don’t let anyone tell you to shut up, when you point out that some are saying the renunciation of Pope Benedict was or could be invalid.
Don’t let them coerce you by telling you that it is absurd to suppose that a Papal act be invalid.
Don’t let them get away with such a claim!
Because, no less that Pope John Paul II declared that a papal resignation could be invalid!
First, the FACTS of the Laws
And not only declared, but he enshrined the possibility into the Papal Law on Conclaves: Universi dominici gregis, n. 3, where it says in Latin:
3. Praeterea statuimus, ne Cardinalium Collegium de iuribus Sedis Apostolicae Romanaeque Ecclesiae ullo modo disponere valeat, nedum de iis sive directe sive indirecte quidquam detrahat, quamvis agatur de componendis discidiis aut de persequendis factis adversus eadem iura perpetratis, post Pontificis obitum vel validam renuntiationem.(14) Curae autem sit omnibus Cardinalibus haec iura tueri.
Which in good English is:
3. Moreover, We establish, that the College of Cardinals not be able to dispose in any manner of the rights of the Apostolic See and Roman Church, much less to detract anything from them either directly or indirectly, even though it be done concerning the resolution of disputes or the prosecution of deeds perpetrated against the same rights, after the death and/or valid renunciation* of the Pontiff. (14) Moreover, let it belong to the care of all the Cardinals that these rights be watched over.
* The reference to a “valid renunciation” is to Canon 332 §2, which lays down 2 reasons for an invalid renunciation (lack of freedom in renouncing the petrine munus, and lack of due manifestation of the renunciation of the petrine munus).
Some would like to have it that Canon 332 §2 is merely laying down the requisites to be observed in a papal resignation, and that it does not exist to be used by anyone, let alone a layman, to discern or determine when a resignation is valid or not.
The assertion is a perfect form of gas-lighting: You cannot let the masses use the Code of Canon Law, you cannot let them read the Papal Law on Conclaves, but if they do, you must convince them that what they see does not mean what it says or that what they read there is something they cannot use in an argument or apply to any particular case! Thus might be the counsel of any modern day Screwtape to his Trad inc. minions.
This objective is supported by the absurd arguments being used to attack those who are examining the resignation, such as that argument evinced by Mr. Sammons the other day:
Evidently, if we take Mr. Sammons at his word, he must rail against Pope John Paul II, against the Papal Law on Conclaves and against the Code of Canon Law of 1983, all which admit the possibility of an invalid renunciation! — Evidently railing against Popes is o.k., so long as you recognize that they are popes. — This seems to be the new dogma of Trad Inc. Even though Catholic Tradition holds that in nothing can a pope be judged but faith.
Having seen this form of gas-lighting, we must begin to ask ourselves, “Whom we should listen to or obey? A Layman or Pope John Paul II?”
After all, to turn Mr. Sammon’s rhetoric against him: What does it matter what Mr. Sammons wants?
Second, the Implications of the Law
As it has been amply proven that Pope John Paul II held that a papal renunciation could be invalid, we should use the intellects God gave us to use and think about what that means. We should not let the gas-lighting false apostles, out there, stop us from thinking.
First, if a papal renunciation could be invalid. That means that objectively speaking it could be invalid. That means that it can be recognized by men who are capable of knowing objective reality. That means that men should recognize it if it be, and should NOT harken to any propaganda to ignore the problem. Because, obviously, if Pope John Paul II wanted us to listen to propagandists who do not want us to see that a resignation was invalid when it was invalid, he would never have mentioned that there could be an invalid resignation.
Second, that means that the Church has the duty to recognize an invalid resignation is invalid, since the Code of Canon Law binds everyone in the Church. The Papal Law on Conclaves binds the Cardinals, and so they are also obligated to recognize an invalid resignation is invalid.
Third. Now how is anyone to do that? Pope John Paul II shows us how in canons 40 and 41, where everyone in the Church who has an office is obliged to examine the administrative act of his superior to see if it is effective and authentic. Though canon 41 speaks only of acts which are null or inopportune, clearly an invalid resignation is both.
That means it was the duty of all the Cardinals as of 11:45 AM, February 11, 2013, when the Consistory ended (approximately, as I do not know the precise minute of termination) until today to examine the act. If the act was invalid, they were obliged to omit the Conclave, and if they find now that it is invalid, they are obliged to say the conclave was invalid.
So you see, now, how wrong Cardinal Burke was, when he condemned a whole category of Catholics as “extremists” if they doubted that Bergoglio was the pope. Because if that doubt arises from an invalid resignation, then they are not only NOT extremists, they are the most faithful Catholics in the Church, and they are doing what all Cardinals should have done and still refuse to do!
No, your Eminence, there are No Extremists here, but there are a lot of Presumptuous Princes!
Now almost no one in the Church is a canon lawyer, but a good number of the Cardinals are. And if you have studied canon law or civil law, then you know a general principle of law which is applicable in this case:
A cessation of power is never to be presumed!
As I mentioned previously, this general principle of law is enshrined in Canon 21 (and implied in many other canons, such as canon 40). It is really a summation of common sense. Because if one presumed the cessation of power, then the rule of law would break down, because presumption has a way of inclining to disorder and chaos, in particular, to the kind of disorder and chaos we have seen in the Church for nearly 7 years.
Now a papal renunciation pertains to a cessation of power, as the learned and eminent Canonist I spoke with recently admitted. Therefore, we cannot presume a pope has validly resigned. The presumption, rather, is that he has not resigned. Presumption here refers to the inclination of our judgement prior to seeing the facts and evidence.
Now Canon 332 §2 says that a pope resigns when he resigns his munus.
But Pope Benedict in his act of Feb. 11, 2013, renounces the ministerium he received.
Therefore, at this point, before any further study, each and every Cardinal had the duty to presume that the renunciation was invalid. He had to presume this, because, the presumption of law requires that he hold that there has been no cessation of power, when a pope renounces ministerium instead of the required munus.
Canon 17 then requires the Cardinals to examine the Code of Canon Law (as I did here) to understand the proper sense of terms, or the canonical tradition (as I did here), or the mind of the Legislator (as was done by Father Walter Covens here). But all of these conclude the renunciation of ministry does not effect a renunciation of the papacy.
So who is the extremist now? The Catholic who holds, as he should, to what the law presumes? Or the Cardinal who did not do his duty nor his homework but rails at Catholics who have done what he neglected to do? Presuming against the very presumption of the law.
It almost seems as if the Cardinals were already inclined to rid themselves of Pope Benedict, and so, whether he was in error or not, whether he wanted to bifurcate the papacy or not, whether the renunciation was valid or not, they did not bother one iota to due their due diligence before convening in Conclave. — If there ever was a reason to doubt the validity of the Conclave of 2013, this is the first and prime of them all!
Third, Action Item:
Ask your favorite priest, Bishop or Cardinal, when did he apply canons 40 and 41 to the Papal renunciation?
Because in those 2 canons, all who hold an office in the Church — even the simple priest who is no longer mentioning Benedict in the Canon of the Mass, where the name of the Roman Pontiff is named — all, I say, had the duty to examine the Latin text of the Renunciation and determine whether it fulfilled the requirements of the Latin text of Canon 332 §2. So ask them, “On what day and hour, in what place and with what books and references did you do your duty specified in canons 40 and 41 as regards the declaration of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013, called, “Non solum propter”?” — You have every right to ask this question, before listening to anything they say about the renunciation, because obviously, if they never did their duty, they have no moral right to tell you anything about what the Act of Renunciation means, let alone, to regard anyone else as the Pope, other than Benedict.
(For more information about Canons 21, 40 and 41 and what should have been done on Feb. 11, 2013, after Pope Benedict XVI read his Act of renunciation, see here).
CREDITS: The image of the Pope is from https://agrellcarving.com, who carved the Throne on which he is sitting and which produces other fine products of furniture (This is not a paid advertisement, but the image is copyright by Agrell Carving).