Tag Archives: Peter Seewald

Benedict XVI remains on a Mission from God

by Antonio Socci

Originally published by the Libero Quotidiano: May 4, 2020

Authorized English translation by Giuseppe Pellegrino
Reprinted with permission of the translator

Like the Biblical prophets and the great popes of history, Benedict XVI is both hated by the powers of this world and loved by simple Catholic people. And every time that he comes out of his hermitage to speak the truth, he illuminates the darkness of the present situation of humanity and the Church. He is the object of furious attacks – which have been going on ever since his election as pope – that have now come to the point of the distortion of his words and his moral lynching.

This week great controversy has broken out over the anticipation of the release of Ratzinger’s biography written by Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI. Ein Leben, which is being published in German and will appear in Italian [and English] this fall.

In the book, the Pope Emeritus responds to various questions and explains, for example, his dramatic and enigmatic statement in his homily given at the inauguration of his pontificate [on April 24, 2005]: “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

It is a phrase that has taken on enormous significance since February 11, 2013, when Benedict XVI announced his stepping back. What was he alluding to with those words? Is this where we should try to find the reason for his “resignation”? Was he forced to step aside in such a way that it makes that resignation invalid?

And so Pope Benedict, responding to these questions, invites us to reflect on “how much fear can strike a pope.” Many observers – especially after his stepping back – thought that it had to do with the unfortunate episode of Vatileaks, “but the true threat to the Church and thus to the Petrine ministry,” the Pontiff explains, “does not consist in these things but rather in the world dictatorship of apparently humanistic ideologies that oppose anyone who does not conform to the established social consensus. Even one hundred years ago, everyone would have thought it absurd to speak of homosexual marriage. Today those who oppose it are excommunicated from society. Things are similar for abortion and the production of human beings in laboratories. Modern society is formulating an antichristic faith, which you cannot oppose without being punished with excommunication from that society. And thus it is more than natural to have fear of this spiritual power of the Antichrist, and it really takes the prayer of an entire diocese, indeed of the universal Church, to oppose and resist it.”

In these few lines, Ratzinger – as always – manages to condense extraordinary reflections that merit our deep consideration and reflection.

Of course, the Repubblica immediately tried to distort Benedict’s words, reducing his comments to a rant against “abortion” and “gay marriage,” thereby giving the nod to the entire media establishment and unleashing an onslaught on social media against the pope, who has once again been covered in mud. Ironically, by doing this the champions of one-way tolerance immediately proved the truth of Benedict XVI’s words: anyone who does not fall in line with the mainstream is declared to be anathema.

But the Ratzingerian reflection is much more profound. In perfect continuity with the Magisterium of Paul VI and John Paul II, Benedict XVI has spoken once again to denounce the dominant modern ideology that not only is anti-Christian but is also dramatically opposed to human life.

Like Montini and Wojtyla, Ratzinger captures the apocalyptic connotation of the present moment, in particular that of the “dictatorship of relativism” which opposed him during his pontificate and that today holds power, since it is also widespread within the Church.

Benedict XVI is not afraid to speak of the Antichrist, causing many critics who believe they are enlightened and progressive to rise up against him, but ironically by doing so they simply display their ignorance of the many books and philosophical and theological debate on this topic. There are actually many non-Catholic thinkers who have addressed the theme of the Antichrist in recent years. The Marxist philosopher Mario Tronti said in 2013 after the “resignation” that the pontificate of Joseph Ratzinger was “an heroic attempt hold back the post-modern form of the Antichrist.”

Similarly dramatic reflections have been made by Massimo Cacciari (I refer to them in my new book Il Dio Mercato, la Chiesa e l’Anticristo [The God of the Market, the Church, and the Antichrist]). Among other things, Cacciari declares: “We could speculate that Ratzinger resigned because he was no longer able to hold back the antichristic powers within the Church herself.” But now “the Church finds herself facing, for the first time, the true essence of the Antichrist.” Cacciari also published a more philosophical reflection in 2013, Il Potere che frena [The Power that Restrains]. The essay by Giorgio Agamben is also valuable: Il mistero del male (Benedetto XVI e la fine dei tempi) [The Mystery of Evil: Benedict XVI and The End Times].

In light of Benedict XVI’s words – “And thus it is more than natural to have fear of this spiritual power of the Antichrist” – we could well be led to believe that he had to flee “before the wolves,” which would render his “resignation” invalid.

But what sort of “resignation” did he make? As he explained on February 27, 2013, he remains pope “forever” and he preserves his papal name and title.

In my book, The Secret of Benedict XVI (Angelico Press, 2019), I demonstrated that, due to the enormity of the Enemy who was facing him – and since he felt his strength diminishing – Benedict XVI humbly made “a step to the side” in order to make space for someone whom he could assist by his prayer and counsel in the task of being the Kathécon (“the one who restrains” cf. 2 Thess 2:6-7). Thus was opened a new and unprecedented era of “collegiality” in the papacy – unprecedented because it is apocalyptic.

But then the cardinals chose the man who had opposed Ratzinger in 2005, who is now the pope beloved by the worldly powers. And so today Benedict XVI finds himself called mysteriously to a task that only God knows. He remains on a mission from God.

Seewald’s new book on Pope Benedict XVI confirms his renunciation was invalid

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Having read many reports regarding Peter Seewald’s new biography on Pope Benedict XVI, it is clear that it provides no new light on what happened on Feb. 11, 2013. While the entire Book needs to be read to make a certain determination on this, let us review the major reports about the book to show that this is most likely a correct assessment of its contents.

The German Press ignores the Renunication

DomRadio.De in its report of May, 4, 2020, entitled, Peter Seewald legt neue Biografie von Benedikt XVI. vor 1.184 Seiten über den früheren Papst (Peter Seewald publishes a new Biography on Benedict XVI: 1184 pages about the former Pope) does not even speak of what happened using the correct terms, but does reveal that the Pedophilia Crisis was the cause of the decision:

Resignation from the papal office

Or for the reform process of the “Würzburg Synod”, which he left without saying a word in 1974 when he realized that he could not influence him in his understanding. And also for the surprising step with which he has secured a place in church history for all time: the resignation from the papal office (Papstamt) and the entry into the office (Amt) of an emeritus pope, which he invented.

Seewald describes the departure in the life of the 93-year-old with empathy, he usually protects him against criticism. He always provides really new insights when he draws from personal conversations with the old pope (or with his secretary).

Such a very last, mostly written interview in autumn 2018 is the final chapter of the book. In it Benedict XVI. with old and new arguments, why he decided to resign in 2012 and how he understands and exercises the spiritual office of “Papa emeritus” (Amt de Papa emeritus). With a bit of bitterness, he also rejects the sharp criticism of his public statements.

One of the strongest chapters of the book with 1,150 pages of text and a detailed picture section includes the description of the abuse crisis and other scandals in the late phase of the Benedictine pontificate, which then led to the decision to resign – without having triggered this step, however, like Seewald and to insure his protagonist. The description of the meticulous preparation of the world-shattering event is exciting to read. Now you know who was informed when and how they managed to keep the sensational plan secret for months.

This report is uninformed, because Benedict XVI never renounced the Papal Office (PapstAmt) he only renounced the Petrine Ministry (PapstDeinst), as anyone who can real Latin can see. Evidently the author of this article cannot read Latin, but followed the German translation available on the Vatican Website, which I have shown to be falsified, and which our German correspondent showed was most likely subsequently manipulated by an English speaker.

Br.de suggests that no other information will be found in the Biography, which was written to defend Ratzinger and which contains interviews with more than 100 individuals:

Defense of a pontificate: a biography for Benedict fans

A book about Benedict XVI. for fans of Benedict XVI: The new Pope biography by Peter Seewald is told in an exciting way, but in an obvious effort to defend Benedict. There is only criticism of the pontiff in small doses.

In 1993 Peter Seewald metCardinal Ratzinger for the first time. Peter Seewald was supposed to write a portrait for the Süddeutsche Zeitung magazine about this man, who was perceived in Germany primarily as a “tank cardinal”: Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, must have liked the encounter and the resulting article.

Because Seewald accompanies Ratzinger even after the papal election. He was the only journalist who managed to have a detailed discussion with the Pope and to publish it.

The Featured Image above is a screen shot of the Br.de article.

The English speaking press, however seems more eager to frame the Biography as proof that Benedict did resign validly

For example, NCRonline.org in its report of May, 4, 2020, “Former Pope Benedict XVI sees Church threatened by pseudo-humanism” which is a reprint of an article by Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, the emphasis, first of all, as can be seen from the title of the article, is on Former:

He also explained the reasons for his resignation as pope in 2013. He denied that it was because of corruption in the Vatican or the “Vatileaks” scandal. Instead, he said it had become increasingly clear to him that in addition to possible dementia, “other forms of insufficient ability to hold office properly are also possible.”

In this context Benedict XVI revealed that he, like Paul VI and John Paul II, had signed a conditional declaration of resignation “in the event of illness which rendered the proper performance of duties impossible.” He had already done this “relatively early” in his pontificate, Benedict said.

He commented at length on criticism of his resignation. The office of a “papa emeritus” that he had created should be compared to that of a bishop who had retired for age reasons. This legal status could also be applied to the Bishop of Rome. It prevented “any notion of a coexistence of two popes: a diocese can have only ONE incumbent. At the same time, it expresses a spiritual bond that can never be taken away.”

The former pope also likened his situation to that of an old farmer in Bavaria who has passed his farm to his son, lives in a small house next to it and has ceded his fatherly and commanding rights.

I find it curious that the Pope might have used the very analogy I used to show his resignation was invalid, in my article about the Grandfather on his Farm. I am not a prophet, but Pope Benedict XVI might read FromRome.Info.

If Seewald can be believed, and if the words he attributes to Pope Benedict XVI reflect his own mind, then it is clear that Pope Benedict XVI still is operating under the grave error of thinking that you can renounce the Papal Munus by giving up the power and governance but retaining a spiritual bond with the Papal dignity. Such an error is substantial, and in accord with Canon 188 would make the Renunciation irritus, that is, something which must be recognized by the whole Church has having never happened.

In Conclusion

Other reports cite statements which are incompatible with the truth that Pope Benedict XVI’s renunciation. But their incompatibility only demonstrates that Benedict XVI does not understand what he did or does not want to say openly what he did, and is simply muddying the waters. As Pope Benedict XVI warned us at the beginning of his pontificate, we must avoid the Dictatorship of Relativism, which determines truth not according to facts and reality, but according to opinions and claims. That a man is or is not pope is not demonstrated according to opinion or claims, by himself or by others. It is established by his acceptance of his canonical election OR his renunciation in accord with canon 332. In the former case, Pope Benedict XVI is the pope no matter what others or he himself thinks. In the latter case, Pope Benedict XVI, since he did not renounce in accord with canon 332, is still the pope, no matter what others or he himself thinks or says — until he says, before 2 witnesses:  “I renounce the munus which I received when I accepted my canonical election,” or something logically equivalent to that.

As far as the evidentiary value of Seewald’s book, it has to be regarded as hearsay evidence, unless he can provide voice recordings of the statements made by Pope Benedict XVI, and demonstrate that the Pope made them without the presence of others who would monitor, report or coerce him for what he said.

As for the Italian press, Antonio Socci says nothing much about the controversy, but concludes that only God knows the role that Benedict has in the present crisis. He is surely exaggerating, because everyone knows what role the Pope has. They might not understand the kind of confusion into which a person can fall on account of error or what they might to out of fear, but that is because they have failed to really look at the matter with Christian Faith, which being based on the Incarnation, knows it must confront both the omnipotence of immutable truth and the vagaries of human flesh.

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Pope Benedict XVI signals he was forced from power, in new Biography

By Alexis Bugnolo

Pope Benedict XVI has indicated that he was forced from power. His remarks are contained in a new biography by Seewald, which will be published on May, 4, 2020.

He makes his remarks in regard to the controversies and difficulties posed by opposition to his pontificate. I quote from the LifeSite News article, of May, 1, 2020, by Maike Hickson, entitled, Pope Benedict links dominance of ‘homosexual marriage…abortion’ to spiritual power of ‘Anti-Christ’.

When further asked by Seewald as to whether Benedict had foreseen all that would come down upon him — the Pope, at the beginning of his pontificate, had asked Catholics to pray for him that he may not “flee from the wolves” — Benedict stated that the generally perceived scale of problems that a pope can be “afraid of” is much too “small.”

“Of course,” he went on to say, “events such as ‘VatiLeaks’ are a nuisance and not understandable for the people in the world at large and deeply disturbing. But the real threat to the Church and with it to the Petrine Office does not come from such things, but from the world-wide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies.” To contradict this dictatorship, Benedict explained, “means the exclusion from the basic consensus in society.”

By saying, “world wide dictatorship of humanistic ideologies”, he is clearly referring to the globalists. And by saying, “exclusion from the basis consensus in society”, he is clearly indicating — since the context is the chief problems of his pontificate — that he was rejected by those powers for what he was attempting to do.

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Pope Benedict XVI knew what he was doing, and knows he remains the Vicar of Jesus Christ

This is a reblog of the article which is originally entitled, An answer to why Benedict resigned the ministerium not the munus

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The question has been raised for more than 7 years and numerous scholars have studied it and attempted to answer. The first was Father Stefano Violi, a canonist at the faculty of Lugano. Then, there was Antonio Socci who wrote numerous books on the matter. Then there was Ann Barnhardt who after her famous declaration of June 2016, that Pope Benedict XVI had made a substantial error, in the summer of 2019 published extensive documentation showing Joseph Ratzinger’s participation in discussions about splitting the Petrine Munus from the Petrine Ministerium in a shared papacy.

But the definitive answer on the question why he renounced the ministerium only and not the munus, I think was just given by Dr. Edmund Mazza in his Essay, cited by Edward Pentin yesterday, and republished in full at the suggestion of Dr. Mazza, here at FromRome.Info today and at the Most Rev. Rene Henry Gracida’s blog, Abyssum.org, where Bishop Gracida calls it a “brilliant” exposition.

It is brilliant because its is based only on Pope Benedict’s own words and the norms of Canon law. I will explain why, here, and use the same method.

Dr. Edmund Mazza holds a Ph.D. in Medieval History and was transitory collaborator with me at The Scholasticum, an Italian Non profit for the revival of the study and use of Scholastic method.

The Mind of Pope Benedict

Here I quote the key passage from Dr. Mazza, explaining why ministerium and not munus:

Seewald then observes: “One objection is that the papacy has been secularized by the resignation; that it is no longer a unique office but an office like any other.” Benedict replies:

I had to…consider whether or not functionalism would completely encroach on the papacy … Earlier, bishops were not allowed to resign…a number of bishops…said ‘I am a father and that I’ll stay’, because you can’t simply stop being a father; stopping is a functionalization and secularization, something from the sort of concept of public office that shouldn’t apply to a bishop. To that I must reply: even a father’s role stops. Of course a father does not stop being a father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such…If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function…one comes to understand that the office [munus] of the Pope has lost none of its greatness…

Benedict again goes to great lengths to contrast the difference between I. “the office of the Pope” and II. the ministry or “function” associated with it. How to “decode” Benedict? By examining the words he has chosen and the ways he has deployed them before. 

(Blue coloring added for emphasis)

And Dr. Mazza continues, further below, after citing a key passage from a 1978 discourse by Ratzinger on personal responsibility and the Papacy,

This 1977 speech is, in fact, the key to deciphering, not only Benedict’s 2017 interview, but his 2013 resignation speech.

In 2017 Benedict says: “If he [the pope] steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility” he took on, but not in the “function,” or “day-to-day” tasks.  In 1977 Ratzinger says: “this institution [the papacy] can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility…”  He adds: “He abides in obedience and thus in personal responsibility for Christ; professing the Lord’s death and Resurrection is his whole commission and personal responsibility.” 

For Benedict, “personal responsibility” is the essence of what it means to be pope. To be responsible not as a public official filled with day to day tasks, but metaphysical responsibility for the flock of Christ. In his interview, Benedict says that although he “stepped down,” “HE REMAINS…WITHIN THE RESPONSIBILITY.” Translation: “He remains Pope!”

(Blue coloring added for emphasis)

Far Reaching Implications

Dr. Mazza has ably demonstrated that for Benedict the munus means the personal responsibility which can never be rejected, and the ministerium is the day to take fulfillment of the tasks in  public way.

But he has also demonstrated that for Benedict, the Office of the Papacy is the personal responsibility of a single person. This is clearly seen in a brief quote from the 1977 talk, cited at length by Dr. Mazza in his essay:

The ‘‘we’’ unity of Christians, which God instituted in Christ through the Holy Spirit under the name of Jesus Christ and as a result of his witness, certified by his death and Resurrection, is in turn maintained by personal bearers of responsibility for this unity, and it is once again personified in Peter—in Peter, who receives a new name and is thus lifted up out of what is merely his own, yet precisely in a name, through which demands are made of him as a person with personal responsibility. In his new name, which transcends the historical individual, Peter becomes the institution that goes through history (for the ability to continue and continuance are included in this new appellation), yet in such a way that this institution can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility…

(Blue coloring added for emphasis)

Conclusions of Fact and Interpretation

From this we are forced to conclude, the following:

  1. Pope Benedict XVI knew what he was doing.
  2. Pope Benedict XVI never intended to lay down the personal responsibility or munus
  3. Pope Benedict XVI only intended to leave aside the day to day work of the ministerium.
  4. Pope Benedict XVI therefore is still the pope and he thinks he is the pope.
  5. Pope Benedict XVI considers his act of renouncing the ministerium just as valid as his retention of the munus.
  6. Pope Benedict’s concept of Pope Emeritus signifies, thus, the retention of the munus and dignity in the full sense and of the office in a partial sense.

Conclusions of Law and Right

And from this we can conclude the following according to the norm of law:

Canon 188 – A renunciation made through grave fear, unjustly inflicted, deceit or substantial error, or even with simony, is irritus by the law itself.

Irritus, is a canonical term which means not done in such a way as to fulfill the norm of law. According to Wim Decock, Theologians and Contract Law: the Moral transformation of the Ius commune (1500-1650), p. 216, irritus means “automatically void” (Source)

We can see this from the Code of Canon Law itself, in canon 126:

Canon 126 – Actus positus ex ignorantia aut ex errore, qui versetur circa id quod eius substantiam constituit, aut qui recidit in condicionem sine qua non, irritus est; secus valet, nisi aliud iure caveatur, sed actus ex ignorantia aut ex errore initus locum dare potest actioni rescissoriae ad normam iuris.

Which in English is:

Canon 126 – An act posited out of ignorance or out of an error, which revolves around that which constitutes its substance, or which withdraws from a sine qua non condition, is irritus; otherwise it is valid, unless something else be provided for by law, but an act entered into out of ignorance or out of error, can give place to a rescissory action according to the norm of law.

Rescissory means revoking or rescinding. The final clause here means an act done erroneously can be repaired if the law allows for it by a subsequent act. There is no such provision in law for papal renunciations, they have to be clear in themselves or they have to be redone (source). The sine non qua condition here is found in canon 332 §2:

If it happen that the Roman Pontiff renounce his munus, …..

This is the sine non qua condition. It is a condition because it begins with If, it is sine non qua, because it specifies the form and matter of the juridical act as a renunciation (form) of munus (matter). The form and matter together make the essence of a thing. That essence of a juridical act when posited cause the substance of the thing. Essence is the sine qua non of each thing, because without it a thing is not what it is. An error therefore about the matter to be renounced is thus a substantial error in the resulting act.

And hence, the kind of renunciation posited by Pope Benedict is automatically void, null and of no effect, because it violates the Divine Constitution of the Church, which requires that one and only one person hold both the papal dignity, office and munus. There can be no sharing of the office while there is a retention of the munus and dignity.

This argument is based solely on the words of Pope Benedict XVI and the words of canon law. It has, therefore, the highest authority and probability.

I challenge any Cardinal to refute this argument! — And if they cannot, then if they do not return in allegiance to Pope Benedict XVI, they are ipso facto excommunicated by canon 1364 for the delict of schism from the Roman Pontiff. All of them, each of them. And thus have no right to elect his successor.

I put you all on notice!

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An answer to why Benedict resigned the ministerium not the munus

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The question has been raised for more than 7 years and numerous scholars have studied it and attempted to answer. The first was Father Stefano Violi, a canonist at the faculty of Lugano. Then, there was Antonio Socci who wrote numerous books on the matter. Then there was Ann Barnhardt who after her famous declaration of June 2016, that Pope Benedict XVI had made a substantial error, in the summer of 2019 published extensive documentation showing Joseph Ratzinger’s participation in discussions about splitting the Petrine Munus from the Petrine Ministerium in a shared papacy.

But the definitive answer on the question why he renounced the ministerium only and not the munus, I think was just given by Dr. Edmund Mazza in his Essay, cited by Edward Pentin yesterday, and republished in full at the suggestion of Dr. Mazza, here at FromRome.Info today and at the Most Rev. Rene Henry Gracida’s blog, Abyssum.org, where Bishop Gracida calls it a “brilliant” exposition.

It is brilliant because its is based only on Pope Benedict’s own words and the norms of Canon law. I will explain why, here, and use the same method.

Dr. Edmund Mazza holds a Ph.D. in Medieval History and was transitory collaborator with me at The Scholasticum, an Italian Non profit for the revival of the study and use of Scholastic method.

The Mind of Pope Benedict

Here I quote the key passage from Dr. Mazza, explaining why ministerium and not munus:

Seewald then observes: “One objection is that the papacy has been secularized by the resignation; that it is no longer a unique office but an office like any other.” Benedict replies:

I had to…consider whether or not functionalism would completely encroach on the papacy … Earlier, bishops were not allowed to resign…a number of bishops…said ‘I am a father and that I’ll stay’, because you can’t simply stop being a father; stopping is a functionalization and secularization, something from the sort of concept of public office that shouldn’t apply to a bishop. To that I must reply: even a father’s role stops. Of course a father does not stop being a father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such…If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function…one comes to understand that the office [munus] of the Pope has lost none of its greatness…

Benedict again goes to great lengths to contrast the difference between I. “the office of the Pope” and II. the ministry or “function” associated with it. How to “decode” Benedict? By examining the words he has chosen and the ways he has deployed them before. 

(Blue coloring added for emphasis)

And Dr. Mazza continues, further below, after citing a key passage from a 1978 discourse by Ratzinger on personal responsibility and the Papacy,

This 1977 speech is, in fact, the key to deciphering, not only Benedict’s 2017 interview, but his 2013 resignation speech.

In 2017 Benedict says: “If he [the pope] steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility” he took on, but not in the “function,” or “day-to-day” tasks.  In 1977 Ratzinger says: “this institution [the papacy] can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility…”  He adds: “He abides in obedience and thus in personal responsibility for Christ; professing the Lord’s death and Resurrection is his whole commission and personal responsibility.” 

For Benedict, “personal responsibility” is the essence of what it means to be pope. To be responsible not as a public official filled with day to day tasks, but metaphysical responsibility for the flock of Christ. In his interview, Benedict says that although he “stepped down,” “HE REMAINS…WITHIN THE RESPONSIBILITY.” Translation: “He remains Pope!”

(Blue coloring added for emphasis)

Far Reaching Implications

Dr. Mazza has ably demonstrated that for Benedict the munus means the personal responsibility which can never be rejected, and the ministerium is the day to take fulfillment of the tasks in  public way.

But he has also demonstrated that for Benedict, the Office of the Papacy is the personal responsibility of a single person. This is clearly seen in a brief quote from the 1977 talk, cited at length by Dr. Mazza in his essay:

The ‘‘we’’ unity of Christians, which God instituted in Christ through the Holy Spirit under the name of Jesus Christ and as a result of his witness, certified by his death and Resurrection, is in turn maintained by personal bearers of responsibility for this unity, and it is once again personified in Peter—in Peter, who receives a new name and is thus lifted up out of what is merely his own, yet precisely in a name, through which demands are made of him as a person with personal responsibility. In his new name, which transcends the historical individual, Peter becomes the institution that goes through history (for the ability to continue and continuance are included in this new appellation), yet in such a way that this institution can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility…

(Blue coloring added for emphasis)

Conclusions of Fact and Interpretation

From this we are forced to conclude, the following:

  1. Pope Benedict XVI knew what he was doing.
  2. Pope Benedict XVI never intended to lay down the personal responsibility or munus
  3. Pope Benedict XVI only intended to leave aside the day to day work of the ministerium.
  4. Pope Benedict XVI therefore is still the pope and he thinks he is the pope.
  5. Pope Benedict XVI considers his act of renouncing the ministerium just as valid as his retention of the munus.
  6. Pope Benedict’s concept of Pope Emeritus signifies, thus, the retention of the munus and dignity in the full sense and of the office in a partial sense.

Conclusions of Law and Right

And from this we can conclude the following according to the norm of law:

Canon 188 – A renunciation made through grave fear, unjustly inflicted, deceit or substantial error, or even with simony, is irritus by the law itself.

Irritus, is a canonical term which means not done in such a way as to fulfill the norm of law. According to Wim Decock, Theologians and Contract Law: the Moral transformation of the Ius commune (1500-1650), p. 216, irritus means “automatically void” (Source)

We can see this from the Code of Canon Law itself, in canon 126:

Canon 126 – Actus positus ex ignorantia aut ex errore, qui versetur circa id quod eius substantiam constituit, aut qui recidit in condicionem sine qua non, irritus est; secus valet, nisi aliud iure caveatur, sed actus ex ignorantia aut ex errore initus locum dare potest actioni rescissoriae ad normam iuris.

Which in English is:

Canon 126 – An act posited out of ignorance or out of an error, which revolves around that which constitutes its substance, or which withdraws from a sine qua non condition, is irritus; otherwise it is valid, unless something else be provided for by law, but an act entered into out of ignorance or out of error, can give place to a rescissory action according to the norm of law.

Rescissory means revoking or rescinding. The final clause here means an act done erroneously can be repaired if the law allows for it by a subsequent act. There is no such provision in law for papal renunciations, they have to be clear in themselves or they have to be redone (source). The sine non qua condition here is found in canon 332 §2:

If it happen that the Roman Pontiff renounce his munus, …..

This is the sine non qua condition. It is a condition because it begins with If, it is sine non qua, because it specifies the form and matter of the juridical act as a renunciation (form) of munus (matter). The form and matter together make the essence of a thing. That essence of a juridical act when posited cause the substance of the thing. Essence is the sine qua non of each thing, because without it a thing is not what it is. An error therefore about the matter to be renounced is thus a substantial error in the resulting act.

And hence, the kind of renunciation posited by Pope Benedict is automatically void, null and of no effect, because it violates the Divine Constitution of the Church, which requires that one and only one person hold both the papal dignity, office and munus. There can be no sharing of the office while there is a retention of the munus and dignity.

This argument is based solely on the words of Pope Benedict XVI and the words of canon law. It has, therefore, the highest authority and probability.

I challenge any Cardinal to refute this argument! — And if they cannot, then if they do not return in allegiance to Pope Benedict XVI, they are ipso facto excommunicated by canon 1364 for the delict of schism from the Roman Pontiff. All of them, each of them. And thus have no right to elect his successor.

I put you all on notice!

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Resigned to the Papacy: Does Benedict still claim he is Pope?

At the request of the author, who was cited incompletely in Edward Pentin’s report, yesterday, FromRome.Info publishes the full essay with its original title

by Dr. Edmund J. Mazza

Ph.D. Medieval History

It’s a safe bet that even if seventy-three-year-old President Trump’s physical stamina suddenly caved, he would still seek re-election rather than allow his Democrat opponent to seize the oval office and reverse all his gains and policies. It is a curious question then why another incumbent Conservative, Pope Benedict XVI, resigned seven years ago citing the frailty of his eighty-five-year-old frame, certain in the knowledge that his successor would be a Leftist ideologue bent on undoing, not only his own legacy, but two thousand years of Catholic tradition. (Benedict may even have been reasonably sure that it would be Jorge Bergoglio, himself, since the Argentinian cardinal came up just shy of the votes needed to unseat Benedict back in 2005.) As George Neumayr writes in the The American Spectator:

In one of his last speeches before abdicating in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI decried the liberalism that had seeped into the Church after Vatican II. To this liberalism, he traced “so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized.” But he then proceeded to hand the Church to the very liberals responsible for these problems and to a successor set upon liberalizing the Church even more. (1)

The recent release of Netflix’s The Two Popes, the seventh anniversary of Benedict’s abdication and the firestorm over his co-authorship of a book advocating the retention of the celibate priesthood—a seeming slap in the face of Pope Francis—all conspire in calling for a reexamination of the infamous resignation. Indeed, ever since February 11, 2013 speculations have circulated that Benedict’s renunciation may have been invalid, that he—in some way—still retains the papacy. These allegations were fueled in part by Benedict’s own rather bizarre measures after formally stepping down, such keeping his name “Pope Benedict XVI,” his title “His Holiness,” his white cassock, imparting his “Apostolic Blessing,” and lastly—never departing the Vatican.

These claims even received an unexpected boost thanks to a speech by Benedict’s Personal Secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household. At Rome’s Gregorianum in 2016, Gänswein declared “he has not abandoned this ministry at all. Instead, he has complemented the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, as a quasi-shared ministry.”  Gänswein adds: “He has not abandoned the office of Peter, a thing which would be completely impossible for him following his irrevocable acceptance of the office…” (2)

Then in 2017, Last Testament: In His Own Words, was published in which journalist Peter Seewald conducted a lengthy interview with Benedict. At one point, Seewald pointedly asks His Holiness: “Is a slowdown in the ability to perform, reason enough to climb down from the chair of Peter?” Benedict replies:

One can of course make that accusation, but it would be a functional misunderstanding. The follower [successor] of Peter is not merely bound to a function; the office [munus] (3) enters into your very being. In this regard, fulfilling a function is not the only criterion. (4) (Emphasis mine)

What “misunderstanding”? A simple “yes,” would do.

But Benedict does not give a “yes” or “no” answer to this straightforward question. All the more bizarre since his answer, in fact, must be a “yes,” or otherwise he is contradicting the very reason he gave for stepping down in his official resignation speech:

I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine office [non iam aptas esse ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum]… strength…has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry [ministerium] entrusted to me. For this reason…I declare that I renounce the ministry [ministerio] of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter

But in his answer to Seewald, Benedict explains that a physical “slow-down” only affects the “functions” or “ministry” of a pope, his day-to-day tasks like any other official. But being Pope, Benedict insists, is not fundamentally about doing this or that, it’s about being. His answer is an ontological one: “the office [munus] enters into your very being,” not the “function” or “ministry,” but the office.

Seewald then observes: “One objection is that the papacy has been secularized by the resignation; that it is no longer a unique office but an office like any other.” Benedict replies:

I had to…consider whether or not functionalism would completely encroach on the papacy …Earlier, bishops were not allowed to resign…a number of bishops…said ‘I am a father and that I’ll stay’, because you can’t simply stop being a father; stopping is a functionalization and secularization, something from the sort of concept of public office that shouldn’t apply to a bishop. To that I must reply: even a father’s role stops. Of course a father does not stop being a father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such…If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function…one comes to understand that the office [munus] of the Pope has lost none of its greatness

Benedict again goes to great lengths to contrast the difference between I. “the office of the Pope” and II. the ministry or “function” associated with it. How to “decode” Benedict? By examining the words he has chosen and the ways he has deployed them before.

In October 1977, during the symposium “On the Nature and Commission of the Petrine Ministry” marking the 80th birthday of Pope Paul VI, Ratzinger declared:

In keeping with the three Persons in God, the argument went, the Church must also be led by a college of three, and the members of this triumvirate, acting together, would be the pope. There was no lack of ingenious speculations that (alluding, for instance, to Soloviev’s story about the Antichrist) discovered that in this way a Roman Catholic, an Orthodox, and a Protestant together could form the papal troika. Thus it appeared that the ultimate formula for ecumenism had been found, derived immediately from theology (from the concept of God), that they had discovered a way to square the circle, whereby the papacy, the chief stumbling block for non-Catholic Christianity, would have to become the definitive vehicle for bringing about the unity of all Christians.

2. The interior basis for the primacy: Faith as responsible personal witness

Is this, then—the reconciliation of collegiality and primacy—the answer to the question posed by our subject: the primacy of the pope and the unity of the People of God? Although we need not conclude that such reflections are entirely sterile and useless, it is plain that they are a distortion of trinitarian doctrine and an intolerably oversimplified fusion of Creed and Church polity. What is needed is a more profound approach. It seems to me that it is important, first of all, to reestablish a clearer connection between the theology of communion, which had developed from the idea of collegiality, and a theology of personality, which is no less important in interpreting the biblical facts. Not only does the communal character of the history created by God belong to the structure of the Bible, but also and equally personal responsibility. The ‘‘we’’ does not dissolve the ‘‘I’’ and ‘‘you,’’ but rather it confirms and intensifies them so as to make them almost definitive. This is evident already in the importance that a name has in the Old Testament—for God and for men. One could even say that in the Bible ‘‘name’’ takes the place of what philosophical reflection would eventually designate by the word ‘‘person…

Martyrdom as a response to the Cross of Jesus Christ is nothing other than the ultimate confirmation of this principle of uncompromising particularity, of the named individual who is personally responsible

The Petrine theology of the New Testament is found along this line of reasoning, and therein it has its intrinsically necessary character. The ‘‘we’’ of the Church begins with the name of the one who in particular and as a person first uttered the profession of faith in Christ: ‘‘You are . . . the Son of the living God’’ (Mt 16:16)….

Is Peter as a person the foundation of the Church, or is his profession of faith the foundation of the Church? The answer is: The profession of faith exists only as something for which someone is personally responsible, and hence the profession of faith is connected with the person. Conversely, the foundation is not a person regarded in a metaphysically neutral way, so to speak, but rather the person as the bearer of the profession of faith—one without the other would miss the significance of what is meant…

The ‘‘we’’ unity of Christians, which God instituted in Christ through the Holy Spirit under the name of Jesus Christ and as a result of his witness, certified by his death and Resurrection, is in turn maintained by personal bearers of responsibility for this unity, and it is once again personified in Peter—in Peter, who receives a new name and is thus lifted up out of what is merely his own, yet precisely in a name, through which demands are made of him as a person with personal responsibility. In his new name, which transcends the historical individual, Peter becomes the institution that goes through history (for the ability to continue and continuance are included in this new appellation), yet in such a way that this institution can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility

The English Cardinal expresses it in the same way in another passage: ‘‘The office of the papacy is a cross, indeed, the greatest of all crosses. For what can be said to pertain more to the cross and anxiety of the soul than the care and responsibility for all the Churches throughout the world?’’ Moreover, he recalls Moses, who groaned under the burden of the whole Israelite people, could no longer bear it, and yet had to bear it.34 To be bound up with the will of God, with the Word of whom he is the messenger, is the experience of being girt and led against his will of which John 21 speaks. Yet this attachment to the Word and will of God because of the Lord is what makes the sedes a cross and thus proves the Vicar to be a representative. He abides in obedience and thus in personal responsibility for Christ; professing the Lord’s death and Resurrection is his whole commission and personal responsibility, in which the common profession of the Church is depicted as personally ‘‘binding’’ through the one who is bound . . . . This personal liability, which forms the heart of the doctrine of papal primacy, is therefore not opposed to the theology of the Cross or contrary to humilitas christiana but rather follows from it and is the point of its utmost concreteness and, at the same time, the public contradiction of the claim that the power of the world is the only power and also the establishment of the power of obedience in opposition to worldly power. Vicarius Christi is a title most profoundly rooted in the theology of the Cross and thus an interpretation of Matthew 16:16–19 and John 21:15–19 that points to the inner unity of these two passages. No doubt, another facet of the bondage that in light of John 21 can be described as a definitive characteristic of the papacy will be the fact that this being bound up with God’s will, which is expressed in God’s Word, means being bound up with the ‘‘we’’ of the whole Church: collegiality and primacy are interdependent. But they do not merge in such a way that the personal responsibility ultimately disappears into anonymous governing bodies. Precisely in their inseparability, personal responsibility serves unity, which it will doubtless bring about the more effectively, the more true it remains to its roots in the theology of the Cross. (5)

This 1977 speech is, in fact, the key to deciphering, not only Benedict’s 2017 interview, but his 2013 resignation speech.

In 2017 Benedict says: “If he [the pope] steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility” he took on, but not in the “function,” or “day-to-day” tasks.  In 1977 Ratzinger says: “this institution [the papacy] can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility…”  He adds: “He abides in obedience and thus in personal responsibility for Christ; professing the Lord’s death and Resurrection is his whole commission and personal responsibility.”

For Benedict, “personal responsibility” is the essence of what it means to be pope. To be responsible not as a public official filled with day to day tasks, but metaphysical responsibility for the flock of Christ. In his interview, Benedict says that although he “stepped down,” “HE REMAINS…WITHIN THE RESPONSIBILITY.” Translation: “He remains Pope!”

In 1977, Ratzinger says: ‘‘The office of the papacy is a cross, indeed, the greatest of all crosses. For what can be said to pertain more to the cross and anxiety of the soul than the care and [personal] responsibility for all the Churches…attachment to the Word and will of God because of the Lord is what makes the sedes [chair] a cross and thus proves the Vicar [the Pope] to be a representative [of Christ].” At his last General Audience, Benedict says: “I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord.” Translation: “He remains Pope!”

Dr. Ludwig Ott, famous author of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, writes: “In deciding the meaning of a text the Church does not pronounce judgment on the subjective intention of the author, but on the objective sense of the text.” But in the objective text of his renunciation, Benedict does not say “I no longer retain the office [munus],” he says instead, “I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry [ministerium] entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry [ministerio] of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.”

Now weighty matters like papal renunciations are governed by Canon law. And Canon 322 §2 states: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounces his munus, (6) it is required for validity that the renunciation is made freely and be properly manifested (rite manifestatur, i.e. properly according to the norms of law), but not that it be accepted by anyone at all.” However, Pope Benedict did not follow Canon 322—he did not actually “renounce the munus,” but the ministerium, nor did he “properly manifest,” in the objective sense of his text, his intention to renounce the munus, if such was his intention! (7) Legally, it does not matter if everyone believes Benedict has renounced the office of the papacy (or if only one person does), what matters is whether the act was carried out according to the canonical norm, which it objectively was not. Indeed, in his interview with Seewald, Benedict admits his belief in the ontological impossibility of him leaving the office: “the office [munus] enters into your very being.”

To conclude, can there be any doubt that to Benedict’s mind, he retains the essence of the papacy? Why then does he not speak and act plainly—as THE Pope? Quite frankly, this is a subject for a different article. A case can be made, however, that he has outwitted his ideological opponents in much the same fashion as “Superman” in the conclusion of Mario Puzo’s Superman II [SPOILER ALERT]. By entering the crystal chamber, Superman had seemingly been forced by his enemies to strip himself of his powers, when the reverse was really the case! Perhaps Benedict intentionally resigned the “ministry,” and not the “office” of the papacy so that by appearing to all intents and purposes a defeated man, he might actually strip away the validity of every measure Francis takes which departs from Catholic Orthodoxy, of whom Benedict is the Guardian.(8) Why on earth does Benedict not speak and act as THE Pope? Perhaps in defense of celibacy, he finally has.

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FOOTNOTES

1  In the article, The Prisoner of the Vatican, at https://spectator.org/the-prisoner-of-the-vatican/

2  Address at the Pontifical Gregorian University, cited Diane Montagna’s article at LifeSite News: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/did-benedict-really-resign-gaenswein-burke-and-brandmueller-weigh-in

3  In Canon Law, the papal office is called a munus in Canons 331, 332 §2, 333 and 749. And in Canon 145 §1, ecclesiastical office is referred to as a munus. Cf. Munus and Ministerium: A Textual Study of their usage in the Code of Canon Law of 1983, by Br. Alexis Bugnolo, transcript of paper from the Conference on the Renunciation of Pope Benedict, October 21, 2019, Rome, Italy: at https://fromrome.info/2019/10/31/munus-and-ministerium-a-canonical-study/)

4  Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI, Last Testament: In His Own Words, (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2017).

5  “The Primacy of the Pope and the unity of the People of God,” published as “Der Primat des Papstes und die Einheit des Gottesvolkes” in a book Ratzinger edited, Dienst an der Einheit (Service to Unity); it has also been republished in books by Ignatius Press and in Communio Spring 2014.

6  In the official Latin edition of the Codex Iuris Canonicis, 1983, canon 332 §2 reads here: “muneri suo renuntiet

7  “But there is definite uncertainty about the exact meaning of another phrase of canon 332.2 which asserts that a Pope’s resignation has to be ‘properly manifested.’  …In the end, therefore, it wouldn’t really matter, so long as the Pope’s decision was expressed clearly, i.e., neither ambiguously nor secretly.” https://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2013/01/03/can-a-pope-everresign/

8  Cf. https://fromrome.info/2020/01/12/benedicts-end-game-is-to-save-the-church-from-freemasonry/

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CREDITS:  The text of Dr. Mazza is republished here with his kind permission. The Featured Image is a photo of Pope Benedict XVI reading his Declaratio, on Feb. 11, 2013, in the Sala Clementina. Photo by Vatican Press.

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