by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
I appreciate a good debate, because I want everyone to know the truth and that requires exposing falsehood and bad arguments. Many know this, and so often the Catholic faithful who accept the teaching of the Church write to me and ask what I think about arguments used by others to support the Apostasy which is ongoing in the Church.
One such argumentor is Ryan Grant, and he bravely makes his argument on YouTube in the comment section of some video — where I do not know — but I have been sent screen shots of it, and will use them to make a further reply.
Ryan Grant is the translator of some of the writings of Saint Alphonsus. I do not think he has studied Canon Law, but then I do not know anything more about him.
So here we go… The context of his comments is the contents of PPBXVI.org the banner site for the Movement for Pope Benedict XVI, which does not have a comment section, . . ..
Here is my reply, which I was solicited for by Grant’s interlocutor, who is a frequent commentator here at FromRome.Info:
While it is true that the Supreme Legislator is the Roman Pontiff and that he has the right and capacity to authoritatively interpret his own acts, Mons. Arrieta, Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Legal Texts, affirmed on Dec. 11, 2019, that the act of a papal renunciation is not subject to the interpretation of anyone, because it must be clear in and of itself, and no on has the right to interpret it, not even the one who makes it. And as Saint Alphonsus, who held a doctorate in both civil and canon law, says in his tract on Legal Interpretation, to interpret a word to mean that which it does not in normal parlance or legal tradition mean is an act of interpretation which can only be done by the legislator in a second and subsequent act. Therefore, though you are correct to say that the Roman Pontiff can normally interpret his acts, this is one act of which even an interpretation issued in forma specifica cannot correct via an interpretation. Indeed, as Mons Arrieta affirmed there never was a papal interpretation made of the act before Feb 29, 2013. So your objection is unfounded as to the matter and erroneous as to the form of your claim. This is how canon law really works, if you knew anything real about it.
Grant rebuts my argument, thus:
Grant makes the common fallacy of thinking that the one who resigns the papal office is the Pope. Nope! An act of papal resignation, as affirmed by Dr. Ghirlanda, S.J., professor of Canon Law here at Rome, in an article he published in March of 2013, affirms correctly that an act of renunciation of office is an act whereby one separates himself from the office he holds. — But the office cannot separate itself from itself. — While it is true Canon 332 §2 speaks of that man as the Roman Pontiff, that is simply because prior to the act of renunciation the substance of the one acting bears that exalted dignity.
So Grant misapplies the principle, The First See is judged by no one, because he failed to notice that the one who resigns is not the See nor the Pontiff, but the man who holds the latter and occupies the former. Otherwise, if we are NOT talking about a papal resignation, then the principle applies to the Pope at all times. So Grant’s argument begins with a fallacy of fact and proceeds to a fallacy praeter rem. Thus it is invalid on two grounds.
Having been defeated on the point of legal interpretation, by my first reply, Grant, next, attempts to argue that the behavior of Pope Benedict XVI after Feb. 28, 2013 manifests his intention and his mind, and thus serves as an interpretation of the act. This is an argument which no canonist would ever make, since behavior is not a juridical act. But even common sense can see that since the Canon requires a Renunciation, and as all good Latinists know, a renutiare is an act which is verbal, not one made by gestures or actions, his argument is also praeter rem, and presupposes a fallacy of not reading the Canon in its precise terms. For the canon says, “If a Roman Pontiff renounce,” not, “If a Roman Pontiff separate himself from his office.”
His next argument is drawn from my published notes on my meeting with Bishop Arrieta. You can read my notes for yourself here. — This means that Grant does read FromRome.Info, even if he is ashamed to admit it. — Well, then, Grant is confused. Because you cannot admit principles and then try to undermine them by personal testimony. Bishop Arrieta and I agreed on many principles, and in my notes I pointed out that my questions regarding where we disagreed were never answered. So Grant is saying that since Bishop Arrieta does not agree with me but refused to give me a reason for his disagreement, which is in accord with any principle of law, that that means that I am wrong and Arrieta is correct. I do not think sane people argue this way, but that is not a valid argument, because it cites no reason.
Next, Grant admits that no one can interpret the Act of renunciation, and then argues that since Barnhardt and I say it means what it says, but Arrieta says it means something else, that clearly Barnhardt and I are wrong. This is the same kind of mental argumentation I see often by those who say Benedict is not the pope. It is called gaslighting, because Grant is insisting on something contrary to the basic laws of language, namely when you explain anything using different words you are interpreting the statement which you are explaining. Ann and I do not do that. Grant and Arrieta do. So they are condemned by the very principles they admit, even if they insist that others view reality in their own distorted manner. This is so like the Left!
Finally, Grant gets into big ontological problems with his assertion that ministry and power flow from the munus and thus to renounce them is to renounce the munus. I guess he cannot understand my Scholastic Question, which was all about the distinction found in all the Scholastics like Saint Thomas Aquinas, that the substance holds all the potentia of the being of a thing, and thus to renounce anything which flows from the substance is not and cannot be a renunciation of the substance, just like when you renounce staying awake and thus fall asleep, you still have the power and being to wake again in the morning. Once again, then, Grant argues against reality itself. What can I say? I do not have to refute him, reality itself does that more eloquently.
As for his assertion that canonists all agree with him, that is gratuitous. I do not know of any canonist in the entire Church who has marshaled an argument for Grant’s position. Not even Bishop Arrieta. All you get in reply is assertions without arguments. And in logic, that means you have conceded that your position is irrational, and thus untrue, unless of course you are an idiot who cannot think or reason, which none of these men are.
There is another error in Grant’s argument, and Mons. Arrieta made the same error: they both hold that the Canon says, “If a Roman Pontiff renounce his office.” But that is not what it says; it says, “If a Roman Pontiff renounce his munus.” Canon 1331 in section 2, n. 4, shows that the Code of Canon Law distinguishes between munus and office. That means that the specific act essential to a papal renunciation does require the renunciation of munus, and that means, that both the liberty and due manifestation required, also regard the renunciation of the munus. This is a very important point, and is the key argument to use against all of Pope Benedict’s opponents. They have to use this fallacious reading, because they can see that the text of the Declaratio is not in conformity with the Canon.
Now I understand why Grant does not want to argue with me directly. I have challenged everyone to a debate, even 3 Pontifical Faculties of Canon Law, no one takes my offer, because they do not want to expose that their position is irrational and not sustained by the principles of law. — However, I grant this to Ryan, he has had the integrity to argue it in public. I respect him for that.
POSTSCRIPT: I have be subsequently informed that these comments by Mr. Grant are found in the comment section of this video.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of one of the bas relief in the Basilica of Saint John, here at Rome. The screen shots of Grant’s comments taken from a public forum on Youtube are in the public domain and used according to fair use practice for editorial commentary.
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