By Br. Alexis Bugnolo
I have entitled this article with a Question which is on the minds of many who were born and baptised into the Catholic Church and who still are trying to figure out what is going on in the Catholic Church. It is a common question and deserves to be discussed.
Many will propose an answer based on speculations about this or that person, how man persons are Cardinals who are in favor of them, or what might happen if Bergoglio dies before or after Pope Benedict.
Putting speculation aside, let us look at what Canon Law says.
Canon 359 says, first of all, that the Cardinals have no authority to change Canon Law and the only authority they have is specified in the special laws which regards a sede vacante. They have no independent authority whatsoever outside of a sede vacante.
The special laws referred to in Canon 359 are contained in the Papal Law, promulgated by Pope John Paul II — with a slight modification by Pope Benedict XVI — entitled, Universi Dominici gregis.
The problem with any successor of Bergoglio is the same as the problem with Bergoglio. This problem, canonically, arises from Canons 359 and 17. Because Canon 359 says there cannot a Conclave until there is a sede vacante, that is, until there is no longer anyone who is the Roman Pontiff, the Throne of Peter must be empty. Canon 17 says to understand what that means we need to read the Code of Canon Law. Therein, we see that in Canons 331, 332, 334, and 749, the Roman Pontiff is spoken of as holding a munus. Nowhere does it speak of a Papal Office, or of the Office of the Pope. It only speaks of the Papal or Petrine Munus. The man who holds it is, therefore, the Roman Pontiff.
So on account of canon 17, Canon 359 means that no Conclave can be called legitimately by the Cardinals until the man who held the Petrine Munus says, in accord with Canon 359: I renounce my munus, or words equivalent such as, I renounce the petrine munus.
Perhaps there is some language in which munus has a cognate or equivalent term, but in modern English it does not exist, so I use it of necessity, in my articles. It does not exist in Italian either.
The Code of Canon Law, in canon 17, therefore imposes a clear and certain standard for a legitimate Conclave — to be called during a sede vacante — and a clear and certain standard as when to recognize that a pope is no longer pope — he must be dead or have renounced the petrine munus.
Obviously, you would be insane to play games with words and renounce something else, and leave it to history to find out whether you renounced or did not renounce. But that is the situation we are in. That is why Canon 332 in paragraph 2, says that the renunciation is only valid if it manifests a renunciation of petrine munus. Even Cathy Caridi, JCL, in her blog post of January 2013 recognized this, as I mentioned the other day.
An unsolveable problem Post Factum
The canonical problem any successor of Bergolio has will therefore be the same. Because, when Bergoglio resigns or dies in power, his death will not cause a sede vacante, because he was never the Pope. And he was never the Pope because he was elected while another Pope still reigned. And Another pope still reigned, because Pope Benedict renounced only the ministerium and kept the office, the dignity, the munus, and the power of the papacy for himself. Therefore, no petrine sucession took place, and hence Bergoglio was never the Roman Pontiff according to the norms of Canon Law. It follows, then, with his departure the Cardinals cannot act.
The College of Cardinals is also compromised. I mean to say, that even if both Benedict and Bergoglio were dead, it could not validly elect a Roman Pontiff. This is because of the Papal Law on Conclaves, by Pope John Paul II, which declares invalid the election of anyone made in a Conclave into which ANYONE WHOMSOEVER who is not a Cardinal Elector was admitted. But the men whom Bergoglio dared to make Cardinals are not Cardinals, because he has no authority to make them. And Pope Benedict having renounced the petrine ministry, has explicitly posited a juridical act which denies his consent to anything which happened after Feb. 28, 2013. So these man are not Cardinals and if they enter the Conclave the election will be invalid.
So after the fact — post factum, in Latin — there is no cure for the Bergoglian Church. The only true successor will be the one elected after the valid resignation or death of Pope Benedict XVI.
This article is one in a series studying the Canonical problems associated with the illegitimate claim of Bergoglio to the pontificate, among which are the others:
- It is dogmatically impossible that Bergoglio be the Successor of Saint Peter
- It is canonically impossible that Bergoglio be the Successor of Saint Peter
- What will happen if all the Cardinals defect from Pope Benedict, at his death?
- The Election of Bergoglio was the Supreme Failure of the College of Cardinals in History
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