English translation of Italian Original
Che vuole dire, “Essere leale al Papa”,
se non ci sentiamo obbligati a conscere chi è il vero papa?
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.
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