Leave the Throne, Take the Ministry: The Sacred Powers of Pope Emeritus by Dr. Edmund Mazza

“Leave the Throne, Take the Ministry” The Sacred Powers of Pope Emeritus

 by Ed Mazza

“For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”

Romans 11:29

Why did Pope Benedict XVI choose to become “pope emeritus”? Why does he still issue Apostolic Blessings in his own name? Why is his proper form of address still “His Holiness?” How is it possible to “still” be “pope” in any sense of the word, eight years after his official renunciation? To answer these questions, we must first investigate how His Holiness understands Sacred Power.

In the history of the Church, the Sacred Power (potestas sacra) of the clergy has been divided into two categories indicating two separate origins of that one power: 1) Power of Order (potestas ordinis) and 2) Power of Jurisdiction (potestas iurisdictionis, also known as missio canonica, or potestas regiminis).

The Power of Order is received at Priestly Ordination and gives power to a man to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other sacraments. It changes a man ontologically: once made a priest, he can never be unmade a priest. His being receives a sacramental character that is indelible. As Rev. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P. writes: “although the Church acts as the medium through which a man is ordained, it is Christ who does the ordaining. The Church cannot undo what Christ has done.”[i]

The Power of Jurisdiction, on the other hand, is traditionally understood as authority flowing from the Vicar of Christ and granted to bishops to govern specific dioceses.[ii] As Pietrzyk writes: “The whole reason for the developed distinction of the potestas iurisdictionis was that, unlike the potestas ordinis, it could be lost. Since sacred character cannot be lost, but potestas iurisdictionis may, it must have a different proximate source.”[iii]

To licitly exercise the Power of Order a man must first be in communion with the Pope and bishops. Vatican II states: “Without hierarchical communion the sacramental-ontological munus [potestas ordinis], which ought to be distinguished from the canonical-juridical aspect [potestas iurisdictionis], cannot be exercised.”[iv] Passing over the issue of hierarchical communion, let us focus instead on the “buried lead” highlighted above: the Council affirmed that ordination gives a “sacramental-ontological munus” to the priest/bishop quite apart from any juridical/legal power of office/administration. Munus, in a strictly sacramental-ontological sense means gift that allows service; three gifts/services, to be precise, Christ’s own munera: priestly: to sanctify, prophetic: to teach, and kingly: to govern.

By adopting the language of “sacrament” over that of “statecraft,” the Council fathers were taking their lead in part from Pope Pius XII, who in 1947, issued a new document on the rite of ordination. None other than Joseph Ratzinger, in his 1987, Principles of Catholic Theology contrasts the change in theology between that magisterial document and previous ones:

The rite that Pius XII decrees represents a return to the form used in the early Church. It is pneumatologically oriented in terms of both gesture (since the imposition of hands signifies the conferral of the Holy Spirit) and word: the Preface is a petition for the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, the key word is now ministerium or munus: service and gift;[v]

The significance of this passage cannot be overestimated for anyone who has been following the controversy over Benedict’s own use of “munus” and “ministerium” in his February 2013 “resignation,” especially given his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s words of May 2016:

The key word in that statement [Benedict’s renunciation] is munus petrinum, translated — as happens most of the time — with “Petrine ministry.” And yet, munus, in Latin, has a multiplicity of meanings: it can mean service, duty, guide or gift, even prodigy. Before and after his resignation, Benedict understood and understands his task as participation in such a “Petrine ministry [munus].” He has left the papal throne and yet, with the step made on February 11, 2013, he has not at all abandoned this ministry.[vi]

Benedict and Gänswein were roundly criticized by Catholic experts for this explanation, distinguished Church historian Dr. Roberto De Mattei among them:[vii]

If the pope who resigns from the pontificate retains the title of emeritus, that means that to some extent he remains pope. It is clear, in fact, that in the definition the noun [pope] prevails over the adjective [emeritus]. But why is he still pope after the abdication? The only explanation possible is that the pontifical election has imparted an indelible character, which he does not lose with the resignation. The abdication would presuppose in this case the cessation of the exercise of power, but not the disappearance of the pontifical character. This indelible character attributed to the pope could be explained in its turn only by an ecclesiological vision that would subordinate the juridical dimension [potestas iurisdictionis] of the pontificate to the sacramental [potestas ordinis].

It is possible that Benedict XVI shares this position, presented by Violi and Gigliotti in their essays,[viii] but the eventuality that he may have made the notion of the sacramental nature of the papacy his own does not mean that it is true. There does not exist, except in the imagination of some theologians, a spiritual papacy distinct from the juridical papacy. If the pope is, by definition, the one who governs the Church, in resigning governance he resigns from the papacy. The papacy is not a spiritual or sacramental condition, but an “office,” or indeed an institution.[ix]

“An ecclesiological vision that would subordinate the juridical dimension [potestas iurisdictionis] of the pontificate to the sacramental [potestas ordinis] is precisely how Benedict understands Sacred Power. Benedict is, in fact, diametrically opposed to De Mattei’s dictum: “The papacy is not a spiritual or sacramental condition, but an ‘office,’ or indeed an institution.” Expressing his sympathy for the view of the Orthodox churches of the East, Ratzinger writes:

Precisely this difference in the concept of authority grew steadily more intense and reached its climax in 1870 with the proclamation of the primacy of jurisdiction: in one case [traditional Orthodox view], only the tradition that has been handed down serves as a valid source of law, and only the consensus of all is the normative criterion for determining and interpreting it. In the other case [traditional Catholic view], the source of law appears to be the will of the sovereign, which creates on its own authority (ex sese) new laws that then have the power to bind. The old sacramental structure seems overgrown, even choked, by this new concept of law: the papacy is not a sacrament; it is “only” a juridical institution; but this juridical institution has set itself above the sacramental order.[x]

Listen, furthermore, to Ratzinger’s scathing criticism of the Church’s traditional understanding of the Power of Jurisdiction and “office” in contrast to the Power of Sacramental Order with regard to the bishop:

While the medieval text…saw the ordination as resulting from the indicative of the conferral of power, ordination is accomplished according to the 1947 text…in the manner…of a prayer. Thus, it is apparent even in the external form that the true conferrer of power is the Holy Spirit, to whom the sacramental prayer is addressed, not the human consecrator.

The medieval rite is formed on the pattern of investiture in a secular office. Its key word is potestas…[however, since 1947] the key word is now ministerium or munus: service and gift;

The most crucial event in the development of the Latin West was, I think, the increasing distinction between sacrament [potestas ordinisand jurisdiction [potestas iurisdictionis], between liturgy and administration as such

I think we should be honest enough to admit the temptation of mammon in the history of the Church and to recognize to what extent it was a real power that worked to the distortion and corruption of both Church and theologyeven to their inmost core. The separation of office as jurisdiction from office as rite was continued for reasons of prestige and financial benefits;[xi] (emphases mine)

Did Benedict just condemn the Church’s theology of potestas iurisdictionis? Did he just characterize her traditional understanding of power of governance through office as something distorted and corrupt to the core? For Benedict, the teaching of Vatican II, on the other hand,

breaches the wall that separated the Middle Ages from the early Church, and hence the Latin West from the Churches of the East. We see the reason why future references to Peter Lombard, Albert, Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas will no longer be meaningful in this issue.

This passage consists in the inconspicuous little statement that membership in the college of bishops is attained through sacramental ordination and communion with the head and members of the college [Lumen Gentium 22]…This statement gives episcopal collegiality a double basis but in such a way that these two roots are inseparably connected.

The rigid juxtaposition of sacrament and jurisdiction, of consecrating power and power of governance, that had existed since the Middle Ages and was one of the symptoms marking the Western separation of the Churches from the East, has finally been eliminated…Our century’s liturgical and theological renewal has removed the basis for this division. We know again today that the sacramental and mystical body of Christ do not exist as parallel separate realities, but have their existence both from and with each other…In the eucharistic office, both the sacrament and the “ruling power” interpenetrate one another, and it becomes at once clear how inappropriate the words “rule” and “power” are with regard to the ChurchWe have no more right to speak of a quasi-profane ruling power, neatly separated from the sacramental ministry, than we have a right to speak of a separation between the mystical and eucharistic body of Christ.[xii]

Benedict, as it turns out, represents one of two schools of thought with regard to the ontology of Sacred Power. According to Msgr. Fredrik Hansen:

The first current [of thought] emanates from…K. Rahner, J. Ratzinger and Y. Congar…They all support the view that potestas sacra comes from the sacrament of orders [potestas ordinis]. In the case of the potestas sacra of the Bishop they advocate its complete origin in episcopal consecration [potestas ordinis]…Further this position teaches that also the power of teaching and governance comes from episcopal ordination although its exercise must take place within hierarchical communion. The missio canonica [potestas iurisdictionis] as the juridical determination for the two latter powers [teaching and governance] renders this potestas sacra available for its exercise…The Primacy of jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff (cf. can. 331, PAE chap III, LG 18b) becomes difficult to explain in relation to this current. On a sacramental level (the power of order) there is no difference between the Roman Pontiff and the other Bishops of the Church. The difference in jurisdiction comes from a non-sacramental source…The power he then acquires comes directly from Christ, not from the election, and not from the College of Cardinals.[xiii]

“The Primacy of jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff” does indeed “become difficult to explain in relation to” Ratzinger’s nouvelle theologie! Tradition teaches the Power of Jurisdiction can be lost! In which case, the justification for “pope emeritus” vanishes. Hence, De Mattei’s filial correction of Benedict and Gänswein for subordinating the Power of Jurisdiction to the Power of Order. The unfortunate truth, however, is that Benedict is unconcerned about accounting for the Primacy of Jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff:

[Orthodox] Patriarch Athenagoras when he greeted the Pope [Paul VI in Jerusalem, 1964 exclaimed]: “Against all expectation, the bishop of Rome is among us, the first among us in honor, ‘he who presides in love’…”[xiv] It is clear that, in saying this, the Patriarch did not abandon the claims of the Eastern Churches or acknowledge the primacy of the West. Rather he stated plainly what the East understood as the order, the rank and title, of the equal bishops in the Church—and it would be worth our while to consider whether this archaic confession, which has nothing to do with the “primacy of jurisdiction” but confesses a primacy of “honor”(τιμή) and agape, might not be recognized as a formula that adequately reflects the position Rome occupies in the Church—“holy courage” requires that prudence be combined with “audacity”: “The kingdom of God suffers violence.[xv]

In one audacious sentence, Ratzinger completely side-steps the De Fide definition of Vatican I regarding the Supreme Power of Jurisdiction of the Pope![xvi] The Pope’s Power of Order suffices, it seems, to account for the essence of Who and What he is! He does not occupy “an office of jurisdiction,” which comes and goes, so much as a spiritual “office of rite” which is irrevocable:

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 [throne] a cross and thus proves the Vicar [the Pope] to be a representative [of Christ].[xvii]

But the witness is not an individual who stands independently on his own. He is no more a witness by virtue of himself and of his own powers of memory than Peter can be the rock by his own strength. He is not a witness as “flesh and blood” but as one who is linked to the Pneuma, the Paraclete who authenticates the truth and opens up the memory and, in his turn, binds the witness to Christ…This binding of the witness to the Pneuma and to his mode of being-“not of himself, but what he hears” -is called “sacrament” in the language of the Church. – Sacrament designates a threefold knot—word-witness, Holy Spirit and Christ—which describes the essential structure of succession in the New Testament. We can infer with certainty…that the apostolic generation already gave to this interconnection of person and word in the believed presence of the Spirit and of Christ the form of the laying on of hands.[xviii]

Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision [to accept the Papacy] 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…The “always” is also a “for ever”[xix]

Benedict “left the throne,” but “not his participation in the Petrine Ministry [munus].” In the Power of Order, it is not the Church, but Christ Himself who makes a man a priest. Thus, he cannot be unmade a priest. Likewise, Benedict seemingly argues, since it is Christ Himself and not the Church who makes a man a pope, he cannot be unmade a pope in the deepest sense:

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… 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 [xx]

Benedict went so far as to tell Seewald that the “office enters into your very being.” In fact, he once criticized Martin Luther precisely for misunderstanding the difference between office as jurisdiction (or function) and office as rite:

[For Luther] the priest does not transcend his role as preacher. The consequent restriction to the word alone had, as its logical outcome, the pure functionality of the priesthood: it consisted exclusively in a particular activity; if that activity was missing, the ministry itself ceased to exist…There was purposely no further mention of priesthood but only of “office”; the assignment of this office was, in itself, a secular act;[xxi]

Benedict does not see the priesthood, or better yet, the papacy as “consisting exclusively in a particular activity, so that if that activity is missing, the ministry [munus] itself ceases to exist”:

My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this…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 [potestas iurisdictionis] of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter [potestas ordinis].[xxii]

And in Seewald’s latest interview released in German in May 2020, Benedict doubles down on his “Petrine” status:

This word “emerito” meant that he was no longer an active bishop but was in the special relationship of a former bishop to his seat…the spiritual connection to his previous seat was now also recognized as a legal quality…It does not create any participation in the concrete legal content of the episcopate [potestas iurisdictionis], but at the same time sees the spiritual bond as a reality. So there are not two bishops, but there is a spiritual mandate [potestas ordinis], the essence of which is to serve from the inside, from the Lord, in praying with and for his previous bishopric.[xxiii]

Seewald then directly asks His Holiness: “But does that also apply to the pope?”

It is not clear why this legal figure should not be applied to the Bishop of Rome either. In this formula, both are given no specific legal power of attorney anymore, but a spiritual assignment that remains – albeit invisible. This legal-spiritual form avoids any thought of a coexistence of two popes: a bishopric can only have one owner. At the same time, a spiritual connection is expressed that cannot be removed under any circumstances.[xxiv]

But is Benedict’s ontological vision of the papacy an accurate one? As Hansen maintains, the other school of thought opposed to Ratzinger has centuries of tradition—and contemporary canon law behind it:

The second current of thought…makes a distinction between the episcopal consecration [potestas ordinis] on the one hand and the missio canonica on the other. The result is a position diametrically opposed to the first [Ratzinger’s] school of thought, holding that the power of governance comes from the missio canonica [potestas iurisdictionis] by which an office is entrusted…it allows an explanation of the difference between the Pope and the Bishops as regards jurisdiction…this second line of thought is echoed in the canonical doctrine found in the 1983 Code [of Canon Law] and the post-codal papal and curial documents, whereas the first [Ratzinger’s] is not: neither CIC 1983 nor Pastores gregis, or Apostolorum successores speak of power as the first current [Ratzinger’s] does…It is, therefore, important to underline that the distinction between the power of order and the power of jurisdiction was by the Council or Code neither negated nor suppressed, it remains a part of canonical doctrine.[xxv]

Or as De Mattei writes:

This doctrine [the distinction between Power of Order and Power of Jurisdiction]…has also been the common practice of the Church for twenty centuries, can be considered one of divine law, and as such unchangeable.[xxvi] Vatican Council II did not explicitly reject the concept of “potestas,” but set it aside, replacing it with an equivocal new concept, that of “munus.” Art. 21 of “Lumen Gentium” then seems to teach that episcopal consecration confers not only the fullness of orders, but also the office of teaching and governing, whereas in the whole history of the Church the act of episcopal consecration has been distinguished from that of appointment, or of the conferral of the canonical mission. This ambiguity is consistent with the ecclesiology of the theologians of the Council and post-council (Congar, Ratzinger, de Lubac, Balthasar, Rahner, Schillebeeckx…) who presumed to reduce the mission of the Church to a sacramental function, scaling down its juridical aspects…

Ratzinger…distanced himself from tradition when he saw in the primacy of Peter the fullness of the apostolic ministry, linking the ministerial character to the sacramental (J.Auer-J. Ratzinger, La Chiesa universale sacramento di salvezza, Cittadella, Assisi, 1988).[xxvii]

Benedict would counter that Vatican II taught that “collegiality is not based on a papally conferred jurisdiction, paralleling the sacrament of ordination as though that sacrament were merely an individual gift; rather, collegiality reaches into the very essence of the sacrament, which as such carries within it an intrinsic correlation to the community of bishops.”[xxviii] Or again, “the sacramental-ontological munus…ought to be distinguished from the canonical-juridical aspect.” This is why Benedict went to great pains NOT TO RENOUNCE THE PETRINE MUNUS AS SUCH in his 2013 “Declaratio.”[xxix]

But Vatican II was referring to the episcopacy, not the papacy.

Ultimately, what Benedict proposes regarding his ongoing Petrine status is, to use his words, audacious and violent. And if Benedict is objectively wrong, then when he renounced the throne thinking he could still keep the Petrine Ministry [munus], he committed a substantial error, invalidating his renunciation. Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law (1983) mandates that: “[i]f it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his munus, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested…”

The ultimate question then is whether what was subjectively in Benedict’s mind was an accurate or erroneous understanding of the objective reality of the munus Petrinum in the Church’s ecclesiology. If one’s will acts on an erroneous appraisal presented to it by one’s reason, the WILL DOES NOT CHOOSE FREELY. Mistakes of this kind are most frequent in attempts at marriage. Marriage is an objective state of being that does not come into existence except from a free act of the will, which is dependent upon accurate knowledge:

error invalidates the act if it is an error concerning the substance of the act…Error affects consent, for the will in an act of consent elects an object presented to it by the mind. If the mind is in error, the object is imperfectly or incorrectly presented and choice made upon such a premise is not always the same choice that would have been made if the object were correctly known.[xxx]

And we might add in closing, that according to the Church’s law, a resignation must also be “properly manifested” in order to be valid. But since objectively Benedict renounced “the ministry” of Bishop of Rome, and not the “munus,” there is ambiguity—not clear manifestation. In fact, even if ministry meant the same thing as munus in canon law (which it does not), or even if Benedict had explicitly mentioned “the munus” of Bishop of Rome, we could not be sure whether he meant munus as office [potestas iurisdictionis] in accord with canon law and centuries of tradition or if he meant munus as rite [potestas ordinis], which he has argued for decades is irrevocable:

The ministry [munus] of the bishop is not an externally assigned “administrative power,” but rather arises from the necessary plurality of the eucharistic communities (i.e., of the Churches in the Church) and, as representing these, is itself sacramentally basedThe ruling of the Church and its spiritual mystery are inseparable. Only by dealing with this issue in such depth does the text [LG 22] make possible a “decentralization” of the Church that will progress beyond a merely opportunistic organizational change and move into the sphere of genuine spiritual renewal

[i] Rev. Pius Pietrzyk, OP, The Power of Orders and the Power of Jurisdiction: A Theological and Juridical Examination, (Rome, 2014),

[ii] Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, Summa Theologica, 2-2ae, q. 39, a. 3; Ad Gentes IV c. 7.

[iii] Pietrzyk, p. 68.

[iv] Lumen gentium AAS 57 (1965) 5-75 at 75.

[v] Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, M. F. McCarthy, Trans. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), p, 241.

“that the [medieval] crucial sacramental formula is as follows: ‘Receive the fullness of power to offer sacrifice in the Church for the living and the dead in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (DS 1326). Following the ancient tradition, the text of 1947, by contrast, declares that the actual sacramental formula is the consecratory Preface, the ordination prayer modeled on the High Prayer of the Mass, that also bears the character of an epiclesis; Pius XII defines as the central words those spoken at the consecration by the bishop: ‘Send forth upon him, O Lord, we beseech thee, the Holy Spirit, by whom may he (the ordained) be strengthened to perform faithfully the work of thy service with the help of thy sevenfold gift’ Emitte in eum, quaesumus, Domine, Spiritum Sanctum, quo in opus ministerii tui fideliter exsequendi septiformis gratiae tuae munere roboretur.’ [wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.] (DS 3860) [AAS 40-5; Cf. Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution, 30 Nov., 1947 Cf. Periodica, pp. 37-9 (Hurth): Commentarium pro Religiosis, 1948, p. 4 (Pujoiras).]

[vi] Diane Montagna, “Complete English Text: Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s ‘Expanded Petrine Office’ Speech,” May 30, 2016 at Aleteia.org as cited in Robert Moynihan, “One Pope, One Petrine Ministry” at https://insidethevatican.com/magazine/lead-story/one-pope-one-petrine-ministry-response-archbishop-georg-Gänsweins-recent-remarks-benedict-francis/

[vii] “Benedict…has engaged in gestures which seem to encourage this impervious work of substituting the new Pope with the old one. The princeps argumentation is however the distinction between munus and ministerium, whereby it seemed Benedict wanted to keep for himself a sort of mystical papacy, leaving Francis with the exercise of government. The origin of the thesis goes back to a discourse by Monsignor Georg Gänswein of May 20, 2016 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, wherein he stated that Pope Benedict had not abandoned his office, but had given it a new collegial dimension, rendering it a quasi-shared ministry(«als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst»)…“ Roberto de Mattei, “The Unknowns at the End of a Pontificate,” Rorate Caeli Blog, July 1, 2020.


In the original Italian at Corrispondenza Romana Blog, July 1, 2020

Le incognite della fine di un pontificato

[viii] Stefano Violi, “The Resignation of Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience” Rivista teologica di Lugano, XVIII, February, 2013, pp. 155-166.

English translation: https://silo.tips/download/the-resignation-of-benedict-xvi-between-history-law-and-conscience Or http://www.fatima.org/news/newsviews/newsviews031315.pdf); Valerio Gigliotti, “La tiara deposta. La rinuncia al papato nella storia del diritto e della Chiesa [The resignation of the papacy in the history of law and of the Church] (Leo S. Olschki, Florence, 2013), pp. 387-432.

[ix] Roberto De Mattei, “One and One Alone is Pope,” quoted in “Reigning and ‘Emeritus.’ The Enigma of the Two Popes,” Chiesa Espresso [Sandro Magister’s Blog], September 15, 2014 at http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350868bdc4.html?eng=y

[x] Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 194-195.

[xi] Ibid., pp. 240-241; 254-256.

[xii] Ratzinger, J. (1966). Theological Highlights of Vatican II (Rev. ed., pp. 186–189). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1966) pp. 188-189.

[xiii] Msgr. Frederik Hansen, The Unity and Threefold Expression of the Potestas Regiminis of the Diocesan Bishop, pp. 25-26.

[xiv] St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistola “Ad Romanos”, PG 5, col. 801, prologue.

[xv] Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 217.

[xvi] Ratzinger: “When the Patriarch Athenagoras…designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more.” p. 198.

Cf. Vatican I, SESSION 4: 18 July 1870; https://www.papalencyclicals.net/councils/ecum20.htm

[xvii] Ratzinger, October 1977, during the symposium “On the Nature and Commission of the Petrine Ministry” marking the 80th birthday of Pope Paul VI; Cf. “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.

[xviii] Ratzinger, Called to Communion, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), p. 68.

[xix] Ratzinger, Last General Audience, February 27, 2013: http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2013/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20130227.html

[xx] Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, Last Testament.

[xxi] Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 248.

[xxii] Ratzinger, Last General Audience, Cf. Nt. 19.

[xxiii] Seewald, Benedikt XVI.: Ein Leben, “Letzte Fragen an Benedikt XVI,” (Droemer, 2020). My algorithmic translation, courtesy Google Translate.

[xxiv] Cf. Last General Audience, February 27, 2013. Cf. Nt. 19.

[xxv] Hansen, pp. 25-26.

[xxvi] If Ratzinger taught against a position that the Church has declared to be of Divine Law, he would be a heretic and would ipso facto have lost not only the Papacy but his episcopacy; “the mediate origin from God of the jurisdiction of Bishops” has yet to be defined with any theological note of certainty:

This question was raised in the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, but it was not decided. Several authors with Victoria and Vazquez held that the jurisdiction is given immediately by God to the individual Bishops; but generally Catholic authors with St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez hold that jurisdiction is given to the Bishops immediately not by God but mediated through the Roman Pontiff. Pius XII teaches this opinion positively in the Encyclical, “Mystici Corporis,” 21. Joachim Salaverri, S.J. Michaele Nicolau, S.J. Translated by Kenneth Baker, S.J., Sacrae Theologiae Summa IB: On the Church of Christ/On Holy Scripture (BAC, 1956; Keep the Faith, 2015), pp. 144-145. Originally published in Latin by the bishops of Spain.

Nevertheless, the fact that centuries of tradition and both the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law hold against Ratzinger, his position is arguably an objectively incorrect one.

[xxvii] De Mattei, Cf. above. Nt. 9.

[xxviii] Ratzinger, Theological Highlights, p.187.

[xxix] Cf. Violi, “Officium e munus tra ordinamento canonico e comunione ecclesiale” Rivista telematica (www.statoechiese.it), fascicolo n. 31 del 2019, pp. 117-148. https://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/statoechiese/article/view/12353

Cf. also Mazza, “’It’s nothing business, it’s strictly personal’: The Psychic Powers of Pope Emeritus,” March 12, 2021, https://www.edmundmazza.com/2021/03/12/its-nothing-business-its-strictly-personal-the-psychic-powers-of-pope-emeritus-part-one/

[xxx] William F Cahill, “Fraud and Error in the Canon Law of Marriage,” The Catholic Lawyer, April 1955, Vol. 1, No. 2.

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