There was a remarkable talk given last weekend by Roberto de Mattei, titled “Tu es Petrus: true devotion to the Chair of St. Peter,” and was posted at Rorate HERE.
Please consider clicking the link and reading all of it. At times, it is flowing with rational, linear thought. At other times, it is maddeningly inconsistent. He starts off by establishing a seemingly unambiguous premise:
“Visibility of the Church” — keep this theme in mind. It’s not a false premise, but he will come to apply it in a false setting. I urge you again to read the whole thing. After 2500 words or so, revisiting the forces behind Vatican I, Vatican II, attacks against the papacy, the errors of papalotry, etc, all of a sudden we are hit with this bomb:
Wow. Okay, now you have my full intention. Remember, a papal diararchy was exactly what Pope Benedict attempted in his failed partial abdication. De Mattei, although a vocal critic of Bergoglio and the “new paradigm” for several years now, to my knowledge has never before broached this subject publicly. Given his stature, simply posing the question implies there is widespread discussion happening in the background. Some may be tempted to ask, well, Benedict is super smart, so maybe he was right and this is the kind of papal structure we need in the modern world. So… what says de Mattei?
A papal diarchy is “accepted by all”? I’m not sure what he could mean here, because as far as I know, Benedict and Ganswein are the only two people who think a diarchy exists. But he’s quite right in the conclusion that no such thing does exist, nor can it exist. Here is how I laid it out in a post two years ago on the same topic:
“Let’s talk about Immutability. The Petrine office was instituted by God, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, who is perfect. Not only is He perfect, He also exists outside of time, because it was He who created time. John 1:1-3. Time is a construct, just like all other created things. Being as He is co-eternal with God the Father, He exists both before the beginning of time as well as after the end of time, plus everything in between, AND… it is all happening at once (for God). All of eternity exists for Him in the same instant. Without the construct of time, change is impossible. If this seems to be putting a limit on God’s omnipotence, it does not, because a) in His omnipotence, He could have designed it any way He wanted, b) He designed it this way because that is His will, and c) HE’S PERFECT. Applying all this to the situation at hand, we can see plainly that Jesus Christ, who is immutable and perfect, most certainly did NOT institute an imperfect, defective, ‘version 1.0’ of the papacy, not yet beta tested. And he most certainly did NOT, 2000 years later, send the Third Person of the Holy Trinity down to Benedict in a Geek Squad van to deliver ‘version 2.0’, with bug fixes, increased compatibility, and an enhanced user interface. Furthermore, ponder the idea that a human being, even a pope, could have the authority to alter the intrinsic nature of the divinely instituted Petrine office, the Vicar of Christ, in order to make it more perfect than God made it.”
Getting back to de Mattei, the very next paragraph is a show stopper:
“Benedict XVI had the ability to renounce the papacy, but consequently, would have had to give up the name of Benedict XVI, dressing in white, and the title of Pope emeritus: in a word, he would have had to definitively cease from being Pope, also leaving Vatican City. Why did he not do so? Because Benedict XVI seems to be convinced of still being Pope, although a Pope who has renounced the exercise of the Petrine ministry. This conviction is born of a profoundly-erroneous ecclesiology, founded on a sacramental and not juridical conception of the Papacy. If the Petrine munus is a sacrament and not a juridical office, then it has an indelible character, but in this case it would be impossible to renounce the office. The resignation presupposes the revocability of the office, and is then irreconcilable with the sacramental vision of the Papacy.”
Look at that first sentence and break it down to its basics: “Benedict XVI had the ability to renounce the papacy, but…he would have had to definitively cease from being Pope…Why did he not do so? Because Benedict XVI seems to be convinced of still being Pope…” Isn’t this flat-out stating that the resignation did not take place?
This is huge. In this one paragraph, de Mattei exposes both a) Substantial Error as anticipated in Canon 188, aka The Barnhardt Thesis HERE and HERE, aka Benedict altogether failed to resign the papacy, because he attempted to retain a portion of it by only renouncing the juridical office of the Petrine ministry; and b) the root cause of this error, namely Benedict’s “profoundly-erroneous ecclesiology”, whereby Benedict believes it impossible to fully resign the papacy due to an imagined indelible character irrevocably conferred on all who accept the coronation. This root cause was expressly confirmed in May 2016 by his personal secretary Archbishop Ganswein, who referred to Benedict’s abdication as “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.” HERE
We know where this is leading, right? Canon 188 states: “A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.”
A resignation made out of substantial error is invalid by the law itself.
Benedict believed he was incapable of fully resigning the papacy, because he wrongly believes the papacy itself confers an indelible character on the occupant (“irrevocable” and “forever”, in his own words). So he then attempted a partial resignation by way of bifurcating the papacy into a diarchy, with a juridical head and a spiritual head, which is impossible. This is Substantial Error, rendering the resignation invalid by the law itself.
Except de Mattei doesn’t go there. He takes a left turn. Maybe the abyss stared back. Inexplicably, he dismisses all the evidence, and appeals to Universal Acceptance as the arbiter.
“Regarding the doubts, then, about the election of Pope Francis, Professor Geraldina Boni, remembers that Canonists have always taught that the peaceful “universalis ecclesiae adhaesio” (universal ecclesial acceptance) is a sign and infallible effect of a valid election and legitimate papacy, and the adhesion or acceptance of Pope Francis by the people of God has not yet been doubted by any of the cardinals who participated in the Conclave. The acceptance of a Pope by the universal Church is an infallible sign of his legitimacy, and heals at the root every defect of the papal election (for example, illegal machinations, conspiracies, et cetera). This is also a consequence of visible character of the Church and of the Papacy.”
First of all, does anyone really believe there exists a “peaceful universal ecclesial acceptance” of Francis, thus infallibly signalling a valid election and legitimate papacy? The cardinals certainly aren’t helping with their deafening silence, I admit. But if fully 84% of actual Catholics over at the Saint Louis Catholic poll HERE believe Bergoglio is NOT pope, isn’t it fair to say there almost certainly is NOT peaceful universal ecclesial acceptance, even if the dissent remains hidden thus far?
Secondly, the idea of Universal Acceptance providing “dogmatic certainty” as to which man is pope DOES NOT APPLY IN THIS CASE. Stay with me. Universal acceptance only applies in cases of shenanigans during the interregnum or at a valid conclave. The idea is that, should bad actors conspire, even breaking the rules which lay out how things are supposed to work, and even if there is cheating in the ballots, those broken rules do not automatically lead to an invalid result. If the ensuing election results in universal acceptance, then we can be dogmatically certain that the elected man is truly pope and is truly in receipt of the special graces and protections to faithfully execute the office. If not for this provision, which falls under “the gates of Hell will not prevail” promise, one can only imagine how many past popes would have been illegitimate, which eventually would have led to the destruction of the Church, which is impossible.
But that’s not the reality of the current situation. The current situation is that not only the election, but also the conclave itself was invalid in its entirety. Its very convocation was invalid, because Pope Benedict’s abdication was invalid, and the See was not vacant. Therefore the conclave can be classified as a deception: Despite outward appearances, IT NEVER HAPPENED. Whether it was “willful” deception on the part of Benedict is unknown (we know his intent but not his motive). But we do know, as brilliantly laid out by Louie Verrechio, “an act of deception, no matter how cleverly conceived or convincingly executed, cannot change the objective reality of a given situation.“ HERE
So de Mattei’s assertion, supposedly grounded in the “Visibility of the Church” mentioned earlier, doesn’t hold water. He himself lists numerous other “visible” signs pointing to the real truth: Benedict’s choice of title, his retaining the vesture, his “remaining within the enclosure of Saint Peter.” We also have the visible words of Pope Benedict in the Declaratio, in his last General Audience, and the speech from Ganswein in May, 2016.
Folks, the heart of Thomism is forcing oneself to accept what is true. Wisdom is attained by conforming the rational intellect to objective reality. This is literally the opposite of Modernism and the “new paradigm”, which seeks to conform reality to whatever the mind wants it to be. We have before us a data set that very clearly points to a singular reality, and that reality is being suppressed. It’s being suppressed by fear; fear of losing human respect, loss of title, loss of income, loss of pageviews, loss of “Likes”. SOULS ARE AT STAKE, yet those who could and should act, first among them Pope Benedict himself, but also cardinals and bishops, as well as laity in the Catholic media, PREFER TO DO NOTHING. I pray you change course and expose the truth. I pray you take action; cite Canon 188 in declaring the abdication invalid, based on the weight of the evidence. Your reward awaits you, either way.
I guess there is nothing I can do except re-present the evidence once again. Sorry if you’re a regular here. What follows is a re-post from July of last year, which itself is a follow-up to my initial declaration of moral certitude on this matter HERE. Mind you, this is not an exhaustive exposition of all the evidence. For instance, there is also Pope Benedict’s claim of “inner continuity” between two pontiffs each exercising their own distinct role within an imagined Expanded Petrine Ministry HERE.
If I’m wrong, may I be corrected. If I’m right, may the truth be spread AMDG.
FAQ: Did Pope Benedict reveal his intent to bifurcate the papacy in the actual Declaratio?
Answer: He absolutely did.
It’s far more subtle than the devastating evidence shown previously, but it is clearly visible when read within the context of Benedict’s erroneous ideas about the papacy, which we shall review as a primer. Also, the subtlety within the Declaratio is strategic, due to the criticality of this particular speech/document.
Before I explain this, we need to go over a couple things just to make sure you are framing this up properly in your mind, working from a true premise, and allowing linear thinking to do its work. The majority of reader comments I’ve received, whether they be positive or negative, reveal a disturbing level emotive reasoning. Don’t fall into this trap. Wishing for Francis not to be pope cannot play any role in your search for truth. Arriving at the conclusion that Pope Benedict failed in his attempt to bifurcate the papacy, therefore rendering his abdication invalid by reason of substantial error, cannot in any way be influenced by your dislike of Francis or out of a desire to see him removed/expunged. That’s called intellectual dishonesty. The flip side of this, and equally dishonest, is resisting the truth out of fear of ridicule or being seen as some sort of freak. PLEASE STOP… THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. Your feelings don’t have any bearing on what’s true, and the truth doesn’t care about your feelings. So put Francis out of your mind, demand absolute objectivity from yourself, and start with the Substantial Error supposition. Work through the available evidence, rationally judge the weight, and make your conclusion based on where the weight lies.
Before we get to the Declaratio, we need to review the smoking gun. This is from Benedict’s final general audience of 27 February 2013, the day before his invalid resignation did not become effective, where he exposes his erroneous notion of the indelible nature of the Petrine Ministry. In doing so, he directly contradicts all those previous statements where he claimed he was “renouncing”, “leaving”, and would then be Pontiff “no longer, but a simple pilgrim”. This is the lens through which we must evaluate the Declaratio (comments/emphasis mine):
Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005 (Ratzinger’s elevation to the papacy). 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. (<in his mind> the papal coronation indelibly anoints the pontiff in a distinct way, which is different from, and more profound than, the priestly or episcopal ordination/consecration). My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. (the indelibility is <in his mind> irrevocable – Benedict is pope forever, but <in his mind> now exercising only part of the Petrine ministry). 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
“I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.” I wish I could find video to see if he winked when he said that.
In summary, Benedict erroneously believes that acceptance of the papacy itself confers an indelible and irrevocable character on the man who accepts it (similar to the indelible marks of ordination to the priesthood and consecration to the episcopate, except in the case of becoming pope, there is no such thing). Therefore <in his mind> he (Benedict) remains pope even after he “resigns” the governing office and passes the throne to the next “pope”.
This is SUBSTANTIAL ERROR. Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone doesn’t see it already at this point. But let’s press on.
In the original post where I declared with moral certainty the invalid abdication, we also entered into evidence as Exhibit B, Benedict’s decision to retain the papal title as an “emeritus”, to retain the vesture, to physically remain at the Vatican, etc etc. We also reviewed Exhibit C, Abp. Ganswein’s comments last year where he dropped the bombshell of an “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’. (Not in its “Office”, the governance of the Church in the world, but in its “essentially spiritual nature”, through prayer and suffering.)
“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.“ (Do you see how this echoes Benedict’s erroneous idea of the papal coronation being an irreversible event, creating an indelible/irrevocable mark on the recipient forever? It’s exactly the same idea Benedict put forth in his final general audience).
“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
Not that we need any additional evidence, but many are clamoring that they just won’t accept reality unless it can be shown that these ideas/intentions can actually be found in the Declaratio itself. So let’s have a look at that, shall we?
As I said at the top, the evidence in the actual Declaratio is far more subtle, out of necessity. Benedict, knowing the extraordinary nature of what he was about to do, would have spent an enormous amount of time writing this short speech. Every single word would have been chosen with great care. Keep in mind, the actual Declaratio was written and read out by Benedict in Latin, so you need to take a look at that as well. But the point is this:
THE DESIGN OF THE DECLARATIO IS PRIMARILY DIRECTED TOWARD ITS LONE OBJECTIVE: TO HAVE THE ABDICATION ACCEPTED AS LEGITIMATE BY THE CARDINALS, AND THUS, A CONCLAVE CONVOKED TO NAME A “SUCCESSOR.” THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE BENEDICT’S ENTIRE PLAN HINGED ON THIS OUTCOME.
So it’s not surprising that Benedict did not speak of the false bifurcation as openly in the Declaratio as he did several weeks later, in his final general audience, at which point he knew his plan had worked, all the wheels in motion, conclave convened, etc. But he also couldn’t help himself, and made sure his meaning was clear if we look with eyes to see.
So now let’s break down the Declaratio of 11 Feb 2013 in its entirety, bathed in the light of the aforementioned evidence. English, Latin, and seven other languages HERE .
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, 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 ministry.
He’s saying he is inadequate. His faculties are insufficient to fully execute the entire Petrine Ministry. He needs help.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
He’s still up for the prayer and suffering part, but not the words and deeds. The governance part will need to go to someone else, a new participant in a new “expanded Petrine ministry”, because he feels inadequate for the governance role.
Now comes the money quote. This is the part that Benedict absolutely had to get right, to ensure the resignation looked so rock solid that no one would question it. But yet even within the same sentence we can, with hindsight, see what he did here.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
“In such a way?” Why are those words in there? Those words are a qualifier. He didn’t renounce completely, he renounced in a certain way. Because as we’ve already seen from his own lips, Benedict doesn’t believe it’s possible for him to completely renounce the Petrine ministry, due to its <in his mind> permanent and irrevocable nature. So he is <in his mind> vacating the “See of Rome”, such that a successor must be named to administer the governing office, while Benedict retains the spiritual role of the prayerful suffering servant pope. Nowhere in this sentence, in any language, will you find the words, “I fully renounce the Papacy,” because in Benedict’s mind, that’s not possible.