Count me in: Moral Certitude and the invalid abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, still reigning

I’ve long been on record as doubting the invalid resignation of Benedict by way of “Substantial Error” theory. I supported my case by quoting several public statements from Benedict from his actually announcing his intent, through to his last days in office. I wrote a detailed post about it one year ago, HERE. That post also includes an excerpt from yet another post where I explain the utter impossibility of the Petrine Ministry being split into a diarchy, to say nothing of the level of hubris demonstrated by Benedict if in fact this was his intention. Let’s put it this way: If it turns out this was his true intent, the failed attempt at creating a diarchy would be the single greatest SUBSTANTIAL ERROR in the history of the Church.  PLEASE click that link and go read it all, so you can see how I laid out the evidence, because now it’s about to get complicated.
Or perhaps not complicated at all, depending on how you look at it.
It turns out that I missed a huge piece of evidence that seems to directly contradict all the statements where Benedict claimed he was “renouncing”, “leaving”, and would then be Pontiff “no longer, but a simple pilgrim”.
In his final general audience, 27 Feb 2013, he said this: (emphasis mine)

Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. I was able to experience, and I experience it even now, that one receives one’s life precisely when one gives it away. Earlier I said that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and feel great affection for him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.

The “always” is also a “for ever” – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God. HERE

Now, combine those words with his decision to retain the papal title as an emeritus, to retain the vesture, to physically remain at the Vatican, etc etc. This is the evidence that is contemporary with the (supposed) abdication. It doesn’t invalidate the other evidence, where he says he is renouncing, but it sure is a serious counterweight to it.

Now, fast forward to Abp. Ganswein’s comments last year where he dropped the bombshell of the “Expanded Petrine Ministry.” These were not off the cuff remarks, but rather a formal, well-prepared speech on Benedict’s papacy, given at the Greg in Rome on 20 May 2016:

Archbishop Gänswein…said that Pope Francis and Benedict are not two popes “in competition” with one another, but represent one “expanded” Petrine Office with “an active member” and a “contemplative.”

“Therefore, from 11 February 2013, the papal ministry is not the same as before,” he said. “It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed during his exceptional pontificate.”

He said that “before and after his resignation” Benedict has viewed his task as “participation in such a ‘Petrine ministry’.
“He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step he took on 11 February 2013, he has not abandoned this ministry,” Gänswein explained, something “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.“

“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.” HERE

His words follow EXACTLY the active vs passive elements as outlined by Benedict in his final general audience, and suggest Benedict has in fact been operating under this guise the entire time. It’s nearly irrefutable.

So now we come to the point where I need to explain the difference between Absolute Certitude, Legal Certitude, and Moral Certitude. it’s going to be a little painful.

In order to have Absolute Certitude about something, the proof must be, you guessed it, absolute. Correctly solving a math equation yields Absolute Certitude. Another term for this is Metaphysical Certitude. The rules of geometry are a metaphysical certitude.

In real life situations that don’t involve the hard sciences, Absolute Certitude is a difficult thing. So we need lesser degrees of certainty to guide us in our actions, which vary depending upon the gravity of the subject. In decisions of secular law, the level of certitude required is in PROPORTION to the gravity of the matter. In lesser legal proceedings (civil, rather than criminal), often the required certitude is the “preponderance of evidence”, which simply means the “greater weight”. The evidence could be nearly 50/50, but all that’s needed is for one side to have just slightly greater than 50%, and that’s enough when the stakes of the case are low. You’re probably more familiar with the term “beyond a reasonable doubt”, usually used in criminal cases, which have more gravity than civil cases. This standard still doesn’t require certitude, but that the evidence for conviction must be significant, such that the weight of evidence for the prosecution must be so convincing that any remaining doubt must require a real stretch of the imagination. Sounds about right? Okay, now break yourself away from the secular legalistic mindset that you’ve been brainwashed into because Law & Order teevee.

Moral Certitude is different. Moral Certitude is the point at which a person is obligated to take action in the moral realm, and the level of proof required here is NOT proportional to the gravity of the matter, as in a legal proceeding, but rather the level of proof required is the INVERSE of the gravity. The greater the gravity of the situation, the less certainty is necessary to require action, when said action has a low risk of harm and a high probability of doing good. The gravest of situations, and the question “who is the valid Vicar of Christ” MOST ASSUREDLY rises to the level of the gravest of situations, requires only the slimmest majority of evidence to necessitate action. This is a matter involving the salvation of souls.  Millions and millions of souls.

Therefore, I hereby declare I am morally certain that Jorge Bergoglio aka “Pope Francis” is an antipope by reason of the invalid abdication, due to the Substantial Error of Pope Benedict XVI, still reigning.

Donald Mark Docherty
Phoenix, AZ, USA
3 July 2017

In closing, can I just say that in that original post I linked back to at the beginning, at least I had the foresight to acknowledge that despite all my protestation, it was still quite possible that I was wrong and Ann Barnhardt was right.  I do wonder if she ever tires of being right.

17 thoughts on “Count me in: Moral Certitude and the invalid abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, still reigning”

  1. I thought the Moral Certitude was established long ago. It is the Legal & Absolute Certitude we have to work on. People in high office know for sure but have, as Our Lady predicted, fallen silent. Maybe ++ Müller will enlighten us on these points now that he has lost his high position & sodomite orgies in a CDF office are grabbing the news headlines.

  2. Moral certitude is the certitude one must have in order to act in grave matters. It does not require one to act. However, if one must choose a course, moral certitude will be the guide. I may be morally certain that Benedict resigned invalidly. However, this is a legal matter and is not for me to decide. I cannot arrogate to myself the decision that it is true. I can only believe that it is most probably true. It is not for me to act publicly, unless I must (which would mean a case of life or death or serious moral wrong). This is a matter for the Church to decide, for the College of Cardinals or a Council. So let us pray and act toward that end, rather than assert our certainty, unless the state of the Church becomes so dangerous to souls that we must assert our conviction.

      1. I misspoke when I said “I cannot arrogate to myself the decision that it is true.” That is vague and easily misconstrued. I meant that “I may not arrogate to myself the legal judgment that he is not the pope.” That authority belongs to the bishops. I can believe it with moral certainty, judge it with my intellect, but I am not the authority that declares it to be so, that legally decides the issue.
        It’s like a case in which one “knows” that someone is guilty, but it is for the jury and judge to decide, to declare. The judge and jury are the Cardinals and bishops.
        Also, I think that having moral certainty about this does not give us the right to proclaim that it is so. One can proclaim only that one believes that it is so (which the author has done). And it most certainly does not give the right to claim that all should act as if it were certainly true. I hope this is clearer.

    1. You say: “Moral Certitude is the point at which a person is obligated to take action in the moral realm”. I think rather that is the certitude one must have in order to act morally when the act has grave consequences. The certitude does not oblige action.

    2. Going with the criminal analogy a bit, you are correct that a properly constituted authority must be the one to officially act – in the case of the criminal, judge/jury to convict and sentence, in the case of deposing the Pope, College of Cardinals/Council. However, just as in criminal situations, if you observe someone actually committing a murder, you do not need a judge or jury to tell you the perpetrator is guilty. Your distinction of public v. private action is well taken, but “public” action means simply official declaration by the proper authority to effect removal (from society or the throne). Personal action still includes the private “citizen’s own determination and even public pronouncement (in his individual capacity, of course) of said determination where and when appropriate. Being neither the judge/jury nor the College of Cardinals, I cannot jail the pedophile nor remove anti-pope Bergoglio from the papal throne. But, if I have come to a moral certitude, I can warn others of both.

  3. Benedict still reigning is no comfort to me. He had the hubris to challenge the indefectability of the Church with this completely novel view of the Petrine Office.
    A Modernist is a Modernist is a Modernist. Period.

  4. Does Ann Barnhardt ever tire of being right? My guess is no. But she is dead wrong to assume that Cardinal Pell is guilty of what he is being accused. She’s wrong, often enough.
    And I think you are 100% correct in this article. Bergoglio is an antipope and Benedict is still the valid Pope.

  5. I’vv been “IN” since day one but then I believe as Saint Thomas said of prophecy “not for the purposes of introducing new doctrine, but rather to guide the affairs of men.”
    Which prohecy? That of Saint Francis of Asissi who spoke of the man “non canonically elected..”

  6. The question each Catholic needs to ask himself or herself regarding one’s own competency to know if Francis is an antipope, heretic, apostate or not is do I entrust this man with my soul and the souls of those I love? Do I trust his teaching to be that of Jesus as I would trust Saint Peter himself? Will I follow him wherever he leads.
    If the answer is no or maybe or anything other than a certain affirmative then you have answered the the question for yourself if he is your pope, your spiritual head. You can let cardinals and bishops do what they will with him. You personally are for or against him. You will defend and follow him or not.

  7. Bob, Thank you for your comment 7/5/17 at 12:39 am. Yes, exactly. I do not entrust Francis with my soul. I do not trust his teaching to be that of Jesus as I would trust St. Peter himself. I will not follow him wherever he leads because because he speaks contrary to 2000 years of church doctrine and contrary to the deposit of faith. He is leading/ will lead those who will follow him into hell with his “innovations” and “make a mess theology.” He is not my spiritual head and he is not my pope. If the past four years are any indication, the Cardinals and Bishops will do little to nothing. (I would love to be wrong about that.) But it seems to me that most of the Cardinals, Bishops and priests (the laity as well) want what Francis wants and agree with what Francis teaches. Benedict XVI is the living and legitimate pope — but he has created chaos with his attempt to create two offices out of the single office of pope and he has abandoned his flock to a pack of wolves.

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