The devout and humble desire of a Catholic blogger to wish Pope Benedict “Merry Christmas” has resulted in another significant proof that Pope Benedict XVI is still the pope and that the Prefect of the Pontifical Household recognizes him as the pope.
The blogger sent his Christmas Wishes at the beginning of Advent, and received a reply via the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C., USA, yesterday in an envelope mailed on January 2, containing the official stationary of Archbishop Gänswein in the form of a two-sided Christmas Card with the foto of a Christmas Creche on one side and these words in Italian on the other:
Un buon Natale e un buon Anno Nuovo 2020 ricco di benedizioni celesti. Georg Ganswein Segretario Particolare di Sua Santita Benedetto XVI, Papa emerito
Which in English is:
Whising you a good Christmas and a good New Year of 2020, rich in heavenly blessings.
George Gänswein, Special Secretary to His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope emeritus
As anyone knows who writes to the Roman Curia or the Holy Father, a response, if received at all, is sent through official channels, by diplomatic courier to the Apostolic Nuncio in their own country, and then by regular mail to their address. This is the practice outside of Italy, at least, in the USA.
Private individuals do not receive mail through the Apostolic Nuncio. For example, I have on occasion written both Cardinals Sarah and Burke. Their response was NOT mailed to me via the Apostolic Nuncio, since it was private correspondence and not in virtue of their office in the Curia.
To receive a Christmas Greeting in response to one sent to Pope Benedict through the Apostolic Nuncio means that the Vatican has recognized that Benedict is still a member of the Roman Curia in the very least. I have it from the receiver that he did NOT write to Archbishop Gänswein, but to Pope Benedict, as pope.
The words of Archbishop Gänswein are also proof of the failed resignation. Because after a Roman Pontiff resigns, He can no longer be addressed as “Your Holiness”, because that title indicates that the person addressed is still the Pope, the holiness of which is derived from retaining the PETRINE MUNUS, which is first of all a gift of grace and then a vocation and special source of graces.
Why is this important? Because in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which governs the Roman Church, the papal office is termed a munus in Canons 331, 332 §2, 333 and 749. And in Canon 145 §1, the Code calls an ecclesiastical office a munus. Thus if Benedict is still “His Holiness”, and that unique holiness comes from the unique munus, that means the Benedict still holds the unique office of the Pope. And thus, no one else does, according to the divine institution of the papacy, which no one, not even a pope, can alter.
The statement of the Archbishop also shows the invalidity of the resignation on account of the confusion of substantial error, in that, despite addressing Benedict with the salutation “His Holiness”, the Archbishop nevertheless calls him “Pope emeritus”, which no “Holiness” can be.
Finally, one can safely presume that the Christmas Card received by the American correspondent was not printed up solely for him, but was produced in quantity. This means that Gänswein is sending the same message to all who wrote Pope Benedict. It is nothing short of a universal declaration. The fact that the Apostolic Nuncio is mailing such Christmas Cards out, means that the Nuncio also recognizes Benedict has holding the Petrine Munus, the Papal dignity, still.
There is no other Traditional Catholic explanation of these events. You can only explain it away by jettisoning the meaning of words Catholics have used for centuries. But that would be Modernism to even contemplate!
POST SCRIPT: If any other of the readers of the From Rome blog have written to Pope Benedict and received a reply, please let me know, if you would like to share what you received in reply. This will help the entire Catholic world understand better how the Pope is doing.
In this Article I will collect all the pertinent evidence. As I am trained in Cultural Anthropology, I will proceed by a forensic method.
Universal Christian Tradition
… holds that Christ Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a grotto of Bethlehem, in the early hours of December 25, in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, while Saturinus was governor of the Roman Province of Syria (which held jurisdiction over Iudaea), and Herod the Great, King, at Jerusalem.
The forensic requirement to disprove the universal tradition, therefore, must be of the highest level. Namely, those who claim that Christ was NOT born on December 25th have to prove their claim. The presumption of right is with tradition.
For this reason, I am not going to presume the tradition is false or wrong. I aim to cite the evidence which is known that corroborates it. I am not a Cartesian who thinks that an a priori doubt makes an investigation scientific, because it actually obstructs an impartial consideration of the evidence, wherein there should neither be doubt nor prejudice to either side of the outcome. Nevertheless, I am an anthropologist, so I know that the universal Christian testimony of the ages is EVIDENCE which cannot be discounted.
In such an investigation, we look for evidence which requires that the birth of Jesus be no later than an no earlier than. These two limits or time points, are called the non postquam and the non antequam, or the point not after which, and the point not before which, respectively.
The Life of King Herod sheds light on the Non Postquam
The narrative in the Gospel of Saint Matthew cites some important historical facts. Let’s begin with the visit of the Magi to the court of Herod. The presupposition of this testimony of Saint Matthew is that Herod was holding court at Jerusalem.
Herod, at the end of his life had very poor health and knew his end was near. At the same time he grew arrogant and insisted on imposing his religious views upon the Jews of Jerusalem. Herod was half jew and mixed-in pagan practices. He went so far as to set up an image of the imperial Roman Eagle above the gate of the Temple, at the entrance to the Court of the Gentiles. This was outside the Temple precinct, but it outraged the zealots. Their rabbis convinced their young men to tear it down. This caused a riot and Herod had the rabbis and the young men who participated in stealing the image sent to Jericho to be executed. They were executed, by being burnt alive, on the night of a Full Moon. We know of these events from Josephus Flavius’ history of the era, entitled the Antiquities, Book XVII, chapter VI, n. 5.
We can deduce several things from Josephus’ account: Herod was still in Jerusalem when the zealots were executed. He was capable of great brutality just as Saint Matthew says. And that the execution took place on January 10, 1 B.C.. (Note that after 1 BC comes 1 AD, there is no year 0), because that is the only Full Moon visible at Jerusalem in this period.
According to historians, Herod left for Jericho, to partake of its curative waters some time no later than the mid of February of the same year. This means that the Magi had to have found Herod at Jerusalem no later than Mid February, 1 B.C. This is the non postquam, since the Magi could not have visited both the Child Jesus and Herod after mid February, 1 B.C..
Tradition holds that the Magi visited Christ on the Epiphany, which is on January 6th.
This non postquam is confirmed by the Roman Historian, Macrobius, in his Saturnalia, Book II, n. 11, where he says that Herod ordered the slaughter of newborns under 2 years of age, at the time of the death of his own son, Antipater. Antipater died 5 days before Herod, who himself perished on April 8, 1 B.C.. So the slaughter of innocents had to have been ordered after April 2nd and executed before Herod’s death. The loss of his heir, Antipater, would have given Herod strong reasons to seek the slaughter of any rival King of the line of the House of David, thus confirming Saint Matthew’s account.
The non postquam enables us to make a first guess at a non antequam when we add the requirements of the Gospel of Luke who says that after 40 days, Our Lady presented the Child Jesus in the Temple, and then the Holy Family returned to Nazareth. Therefore, the Magi had to visit before the 40th day after the birth of Jesus. This means, that the birth of Jesus had to have been before January 6th, 1 B.C..
The Baptism of Jesus sheds light on the Non Antequam
According to the Gospel of Luke 3:23, we know that Jesus was about 30 years old when He began His public ministry, and that this ministry began with His Baptism by John. John himself began preaching a baptism of repentance in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, according to Saint Luke 3:1. Roman Emperors counted their regnal years from January 1 to December 31, even if they assumed power before January 1. This means that the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar began on January 1, 29 A. D.. This corresponds to the Prophet Daniel 9:25 who said that in 483 years after the issuing of the Decree to Rebuild Jerusalem (issued in 454 B.C.), the Messiah would be revealed.
Hence, counting back 30 years, Jesus was born sometime in the Fall to Winter of 2 B.C.. This means that Christ could not have been born before Sept 21th, 2 B.C..
The prophet Daniel also foretold that the Messiah would be “cut off” after a 3.5 year public ministry (Danial 9:27). This is confirmed by Saint John in His Gospel who records 4 Passovers celebrated by Our Lord (John 2:13, 5:1, 6:4, and 11:55). This means that Christ’s Baptism occurred sometime after Nov. 8, 29 B. C., and that therefore, His birth has to be after Nov. 8th, 2 B.C..
It was Jewish custom of the time that Rabbi’s did not begin their public ministry until they were 30 years of age. We also know from the Gospel of Saint Luke, that Our Lord fasted for 40 days in the desert before He began His public ministry. Therefore, since Jewish fasts were preparatory, the fast would have had to ended before His 30th birthday. Hence, the non antequem must be no earlier than December 18th, which is the 40th day from Nov. 8th.
The Temple Service of Zechariah sheds light on the non antequam
We know from the testimony of Saint Luke that the Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah while his turn was up for service in the Temple. From the study of Temple practices and the order of the Levites who served there, we know that Zechariah had to have been in the Temple from September 5 to September 11th of the year he served. That means, with travel and other normal delays, that John the Baptist could have been conceived no earlier than the 15th of September, and probably later, since Elizabeth would only be capable of conceiving naturally one out of every four weeks. We also know that Saint John was 6 months older than Our Lord, according to the same testimony of Saint Luke, when he refers to the time the same Archangel was sent to Our Lady. This means that Our Lord was conceived not earlier than March 15th, and thus born no earlier than Dec. 15th. This corroborates the calculation derived from Christ’s Fast and Baptism.
Epiphanius’ testimony on Epiphany sheds light on the non postquam
The ecclesiastical writer of the 3rd century after Christ, Epiphanius says that the Feast of Epiphany was established to commemorate the date of the Wedding Feast of Cana, as the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. If we combine this with the 7 days of Saint John’s Gospel, reckoning that these days were after Christ’s birthday, not before it, then we have a non postquam date of Dec. 31st.. This interpretation is more sound, because it can be expected that after 40 days of Fasting, Our Lord would have returned to Nazareth to meet with His Mother, and from Her learn of the Wedding Feast. It also makes sense, in that Our Lady was giving Him the push to reveal Himself, that He would not have done so before his 30 day birthday, lest He violate established custom.
From the historical record, the Gospel Narratives themselves require that we accept that the Birth of Jesus as occurring after Dec. 18th and before Dec. 31st..
Now, the mid-point between the non antequam and the non post quam, in such studies of this kind is the one with the highest mathematical probability of being the correct date. So what is the mid point of December 18th and December 31st ?…… Calculate it for yourself…
FULL OF THE GRACES AND MERCIES WHICH
THE ETERNAL SON BROUGHT DOWN FROM HEAVEN
AT THE “FIAT MIHI” OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY!
+ + +
If you have noticed, the evidences point to Christ being born in 2 B.C.. You might ask, “Was not Christ born in the year 0 or 1 A.D.?” — Answer: No, because there is no year 0, the year which follows 1 B. C. is 1 A.D.. — But 1 A.D. begins 1 year and 1 week after the birth of Christ. Why is that? — Answer: Because the regnal year of Emperors begins on January 1st, and only once Christ attains the age of 1, can the regnal year be 1. So the First Year of the Christian era is the first full calendar year in which the Child Jesus is 1 year old. Another way to look at it, is this: the year Zero in which many Christians think Christ would have to be born is really the year 1 B.C., because until the day Christ was born, it was Before Christ’s birth. So, in 2020 A.D., we will celebrate the 2020th year of age, according to His Blessed Humanity, of the Incarnate Word of God.