Dr. Mazza on Ratzinger’s Attempted Resignation: An Open Letter to Andrea Cionci

Dr. Mazza once again strikes with a dagger of documented simplicity. Published today by Marco Tosatti:

Dear friends and foes of Stilum Curiae, we receive from Dr. Edmund Mazza this open letter directed to Andrea Cionci, in response to the article found at this link. Happy reading

On May 11th, Italian journalist and blogger, Andrea Cionci, addressed an open letter to me and Ann Barnhardt publicly disagreeing with our stated position that Pope Benedict likely committed substantial error in his 2013 renunciation, thereby invalidating it according to Canon 188 (and Canon 332.2). Cionci invited us to examine his research and adopt his view. Cionci, however, did not engage any of my arguments, he merely presented his own. He argues that Benedict did not intend to renounce anything, but to create an impeded see. He further claims that Benedict is speaking in coded messages for “those who have ears to hear.”

Since St. Paul and St. Thomas both prominently teach that fraternal correction is an act of charity toward our neighbor, I hope that Mr. Cionci will accept this public reply in that spirit in which it is offered. In saying this, I do not claim to be a “know-it-all.” I could be wrong about the invalidity of Benedict’s resignation. I have always maintained that I am merely presenting an hypothesis.

That having been said, in my estimation, the evidence is insurmountable that Pope Benedict intended to renounce something. (Specialists and non-specialists alike may differ on what that something was and whether he succeeded in his endeavor in the eyes of God.)

Let us turn to the evidence, starting with his own testimony to Peter Seewald in his 2016 book, Last Testament: In His Own Words:

Seewald: You say that you sought counsel on your decision. Indeed, with your ultimate boss. How was that?

Pope Benedict: You have to lay out all your affairs before Him as clearly as possible and try not to see everything only in terms of efficiency or other criteria for resignation, but to look at it from faith. It was from precisely this perspective that I became convinced that the commission of Peter demanded concrete decisions, insights, from me, but then, when it was no longer possible for me for the foreseeable future, that the Lord no longer wanted me to do it and freed me from the burden, as it were. I could resign because calm had returned to this situation. It was not a case of retreating under pressure or feeling that things couldn’t be coped with.[1]

Or again, Benedict speaks of his resignation in the context of the curial retreat that occurred after his Declaratio was delivered:

Pope Benedict: …retreats are places of silence, of listening, of prayer. Of course it was part of the whole plan of the resignation for it to be followed by a week of silence, where everyone is able to work it out inwardly, or the bishops, cardinals and staff of the Curia at least.

Seewald: Have you ever regretted the resignation even for a minute?

Pope Benedict: No! No, no. Every day I see that it was right.

Why does Benedict repeatedly speak of resignation if that was not his intention?

Then we have his testimony from his last General Audience on February 27, 2013:

In these last months I have felt my energies declining, and I have asked God insistently in prayer to grant me his light and to help me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step with full awareness of its gravity and even its novelty, but with profound interior serenity…

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…

The “always” is also a “forever” —there is no longer a return to the private. My decision to renounce 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, etc. I do not abandon the cross but remain in a new way with the Crucified Lord. I no longer carry the power of the [Petrine] office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the precincts of St. Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way to a life, which, active or passive, belongs totally to the work of God.[2]

Finally, we have Benedict’s Declaratio itself:

…in order to govern the bark 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. 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.[3]

Benedict speaks of a physical incapacity to completely fulfill the Petrine ministry entrusted to him and then proceeds to “renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome…” He even speaks of a “conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff.”

Furthermore, in his interview with Seewald, Benedict acknowledges Francis as the new Pope!

Pope Benedict: The new Pope, though, is South American and Italian, so he represents both the intertwining of the new and old worlds and the inner unity of history.

He is definitely a Pope of reflection as well. When I read Evangelii gaudium, or even the interviews, I see that he is a thoughtful person, who grapples intellectually with the questions of our time. But at the same time he is simply someone who is very close to people, who stands with them, who is always among them.

Or in the 2021 book, Benedict: A Life:

Seewald: On March 23, 2013, the first meeting between the newly elected and the resigned Pope took place in Castel Gandolfo, an absolute novelty in history. What were your thoughts in that hour?

Pope Benedict: I knew Pope Francis from his Ad Limina visit and from various correspondence contacts that my congregation had had with him. I also knew that he tried to call me immediately after the election, before he showed himself to people from the balcony of St. Peter’s Church. So I was looking forward to meeting my successor and knowing thankfully that it would be a good meeting between brothers. Incidentally, of course, I carefully considered what I should say to him without consuming too much time. So this first encounter remains as a good light in mine memory. As you know, personal friendship with Pope Francis has not only remained, but has grown.[4]

I could cite many other examples as well, but these should suffice.

In conclusion, I appeal to you Mr. Cionci to consider how much it strains credulity to believe that Benedict did not intend to resign. It strains it unimaginably further to argue that he not only intended not to resign but is sending us cryptic messages to confirm it.

Now that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is calling for an investigation of Benedict’s Renunciation and Francis’ Election, the last thing we need is to lose credibility by proposing theories that open us so easily to ridicule and accusations of Gnosticism.

In Jesus and Mary,

Edmund J. Mazza, PhD

May 19, 2022

Feast of St. Celestine V, resignant pope


[1] Peter Seewald, Last Testament: In His Own Words, (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2016).

[2] https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2013/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20130227.html

[3] https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2013/february/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20130211_declaratio.html

[4] Peter Seewald, Benedict: A Life, (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2021)


77 thoughts on “Dr. Mazza on Ratzinger’s Attempted Resignation: An Open Letter to Andrea Cionci”

  1. Well, wouldn’t that mean he really doesn’t understand the papacy, and, if not a heretic, is theologically suspect? It’s not like he doesn’t know that there is only one pope, so he would be trying creating a novelty on the papacy, with full knowledge of what the Catholic Church really teaches.

    1. It would mean he thought the papacy could take a different shape, a topic that has been extensively documented in this space. The subject was up for debate for decades, and the theme of the Miller dissertation.

      1. Can you please delete my comment below as I meant to put it here, thanks. I wanted to ask what citations the Miller dissertation provides from Ratzinger on the subject of a split papacy.

  2. I went back and read Cionci again, and I don’t really see the cause for substantive disagreement here. Cionci asserts Pope Benedict never intended to resign the Papacy and is still Pope, has always been Pope *and that the Conclave to elect his replacement invalid by definition*.
    Isn’t that, Dr. Mazza, exactly what you claim?
    Perhaps you presume underlying error, while Cionci presumes underlying designed intent.
    Ok, but the net effect is … substantial error – Ratzinger remains Pope Benedict XVI.
    I have *always*, ever since before conversion, seen Pope Benedict as a highly intelligent man; as one of the most learned men in the history of the Papal line. I have never subscribed to the idea that Benedict made a boo-boo. “Oops”! But, that goes into the realm of *INTENT* which we Can Not Know. He is in error. He is Pope. Period.
    Again – how is one argument any different than the other argument except for the underlying issue of Benedict’s personal motivations – which we cannot know since he didn’t tell us. We can only judge what *IS*: the declarative resignation made in substantial error supported by all subsequent acts.
    Additionally – I sincereall agree with the idea that the See is “Impeded”. And I also agree that it is *likely* (cannot be known because we cannot know intent) *likely* that Benedict, as the Vicar of Christ with divine protections built into his Papal Office meant to save the Papacy during a time of terrible spiritual chastisement – which he (also likely, but not known) which he knew was upon us in the RCC. Either way, I think it is certain that God is protecting His most supreme Office from terrible forces.
    In conclusion: I don’t personally see substantive difference between Mazza’s position and Cionci’s *except* for Papal intent and foreknowledge. The net effect is precisely the same, in regards to what matters to me: who is the Pope?

    1. I extracted Cionci’s assertions of error that renders Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation invalid – thus retaining his Office of Pope. The Munus/Ministerium has pride of place, but there are others – all of which Cionci asserts render the resignation invalid in and of themselves, much less taken together.
      – quote –
      “The first point to make is that Declaratio is not invalid *solely* because of the munus/ministerium inversion.”
      “For example, the postponement – totally unnecessary, if you think about it – of the entry into force of the renunciation of the ministerium. This postponement is in fact totally unacceptable for an abdication, since, theologically, it is God Himself who grants or withdraws the munus.”
      “There is also the failure to ratify the renunciation of the ministerium, which was never confirmed after 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, as said by theologian Carlo Maria Pace.”
      “Then there is the utterly fanciful use (as noted by Advocate Arthur Lambauer) of the expressions “See of St. Peter”, “See of Rome“, which have no juridical personality to be considered “vacant,” as (only) the Apostolic See can be.”
      “Not to mention that objectively strange phrase in the Declaratio “(…)and the Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is”
      – end quotes –

    2. No doubt, it has become clear, this idea of a “split Papacy” has certainly illuminated the fact that it is no longer just bishop v. Bishop, cardinal v. Cardinal, but pope v. every previously validly elected Pope.
      Pray that a True Pope will soon do The Consecration Of Russia to Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart, exactly as Our Blessed Mother requested. What is needed is a Miracle and every Miracle requires an Act Of Faith.
      “Behold your Mother.” – Christ
      “Do whatever He tells you.” – Our Blessed Mother

  3. What does Ratzinger say in the Miller dissertation that would lead us to believe he thought the papacy could be split?

      1. Is this not the fatal flaw in the substantial error thesis? These other commentators weren’t elected to the Chair of Peter. Ratzinger was. In other words the Miller dissertation is irrelevant to the question if it can’t provide a single citation from Ratzinger wherein he himself suggests the papacy can be split.

        1. What the Miller dissertation proves is that the nature of the papacy, and how its structure could change, was a central component of German theological studies 1950-1970, that Ratzinger and was smack in the middle of it. His mind would have been filled with such ideas. Then we have the Seewald books and interviews, where Benedict claims he only took a step to the side, and yet he calls Bergoglio “Pope Francis” … how does that last part mesh with Cioncism?

  4. I just read Barnhardt’s commentary, summarized in this paragraph:
    “In the same vein, trying to delude oneself into thinking that Pope Benedict is playing some monstrous game of 15-D underwater chess crossed with Pink Slip Chicken at the proverbial quarry, is not only wrong, but assumes a moral monstrosity on the part of Pope Benedict that would be right up there with Judas Iscariot.”
    I simply don’t see how you can read Cionci and come to this conclusion that he thinks Benedict is playing 15D chess. He is saving the Papacy. He retains the Office. Bergoglio does not. What’s so hard about that? Malign actors were moving on the Throne, and he saved the Throne from them (remember John Paul I?).
    Claiming he is playing 15D chess is claiming to know a lot more about him and in his inner mind and soul than you can possibly judge.
    And then there is this … He is the Vicar of Christ. Barnhardt claims that if you don’t follow the logic of invalid resignation you will soon de-spiritualize the Papacy and then apostacize thereafter. Well, claiming to know the minds of the Pope and that *if* he does a certain thing *then* he is “right up there with Judas Iscariot” sure seems to me to be well down that path.
    Is he or is he not the Pope with Divine Protections? What does that mean in this case? She accepts Bergoglio as an apostate heretic because he is not Pope. Well .. what of Pope Benedict? What of HIS Divine Protections, derived from a real, personal connection to Jesus Christ our Lord who is supremely interested in His Bride in this moment of trial? Disconnected? Of no use in this case?
    Sorry, but I’ve got some serious concerns over how this is being explained. I thought (think) I understand the Cionci thesis, and it is way different than presented here and by Barnhardt. Now we are talking about the Pope, the real Pope, as Judas Iscariot. Huh! So much for Divine Protection and the personal guarantees of Our Lord over the sanctity and direction of His Office.

    1. Barnhardt’s summation is exactly the logical end to assuming Benedict’s intent was to not resign in a way that he knew he would remain fully pope, and yet praise Bergoglio and address him as “Pope Francis.” How would he not be a deceiver in Cionci’s scenario, and a scandal to the faithful?

      1. Cionci already answered this objection. Please wait for the English translation of his response.

  5. So the Miller dissertation proves nothing as regards Ratzinger. He had ample opportunity all those years to promote the idea of a split papacy yet he did not.
    The “substantial error” thesis is built on sand and has nothing going for it. It makes the Holy Father Benedict XVI out to be no better than a suspected modernist heretic whereas the Cionci thesis preserves the dignity of both the office of the papacy and the person of Benedict XVI.

  6. At what point did you (or Anne for that matter) ever think that wasn’t precisely what he intended to do? Substantial error? This is not new. It has always been assumed he resigned in error and it was a big one.
    All Cionci did was fill it out and render the decision more understandable by saying it wasn’t an “error”, in the theological sense (which would mitigate against the VI Divine protections assurances) but an error in the practical sense in that our Holy Father was aware of a movement by malign forces (demonic, Freemasonic … who knows … bad, really bad) against the Holy Throne of Peter. And he saved it. I simply do not see how that is a bad argument. I think, without spelling it out in detail, that’s pretty much been my assumptions all along.
    And, I gather, yours (and Anne’s argument) is that Pope Benedict was simply in error along the lines of the Miller thesis and an arch-heretic.
    How does saving the Papacy from evil forces (which we Laymen can’t see, and thus can’t judge for ourselves … although we can easily interpolate from what we know) how does saving the Papacy from evil usurpation render Pope Benedict like Judas Iscariot?
    And so, my question remains: how does this (if what you and Anne assert is true – the opposite of Cionci I gather) not completely invalidate yours and Anne’s prior arguments with respect to Vatican I and Papal Protections from substantive error? This (of what you say is true) is the mother of all substantive errors destroying the Throne at the cornerstone of Holy Mother Church by the Pope himself (at the level of his intent); whereas Cionci asserts the Pope is *saving* the Throne from those same malign forces who *actually are* (not Pope Benedict … Bergoglio and his pals) who *actually are* trying to impose the Miller thesis.
    Of the two (you, Mazza and Anne on one side / Cionci on the other), it appears, Cionci is more respectful of Divine Protrctions as applied in this supreme crisis. The Pope saved the Seat by retaining the Seat from theft by agents of the devil. How is this bad?

      1. For the same reason he called Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury, even though he knew he was nothing more than a layman.

      2. EXACTLy. Let’s just circle back to reality with this one simple logical question…15D chess leads to word salad games and the inability to see what is right in front of your nose.

  7. Question for Ann, Mark and Dr. Mazza,
    If Pope Benedict did as you suggest, acting in substantial error but nevertheless a willing accomplice, then why the Vatican bank card payment suspension? (A suspension which was lifted the very day after Benedict’s Declaratio on 12 February 2013)
    Do you really believe that was merely happenstance.
    Where do you place such an apparent act of coercion upon the tapestry of your hypothesis?

      1. Then there is new factor worth considering – the apparent contradiction between Pope Benedict as both a willing accomplice and an unwilling victim at the same time and in the same respect.

  8. I find it completely in unpersuasive that Pope Benedict XVI is an evil man, that Papal protections are nullified with him and that God is absent as the Vicar of Christ the King destroys the Seat upon which he reigns.
    I am much more persuaded by the argument that he saved the Seat from malign evil forces – which are quantifiable and visible for everyone to see … you need not be an “Gnostic” to know this. Those behind the “Miller Thesis” actually *were* attempting a coup and Pope Benedict stopped it. He took the Office from them and remains hidden as they do their evil deeds – absent the Divine connection to God.
    That is not “15 dimension chess”. It is simply protecting the Seat of Peter from violent, evil men.
    I am persuaded that Pope Benedict XVI remains Pope.
    I am persuaded that Pope Benedict has Divine protections, as guaranteed by Vatican Council I.
    I am persuaded that Pope Benedict saved the Church from malignity and a much greater evil.
    I am persuaded that Pope Benedict’s actions exposed pre-existing evil, rather than facilitied it.
    I respect and venerate Pope Benedict XVI as Holy Father, successor of St. Peter.
    I fully believe that we are experiencing deserved chastisement, as prophecied by Our Lady of Fatima, and that the Holy Father acted to save the Seat and with it, the Church.
    Unless anyone can convince me otherwise – especially in answer to the question of why Divine Protections for the Vicar of Christ failed to prevent the evil you ascribe to him. I

    1. Aqua, not sure who this latest post of yours is directed at, but if Mark, Ann etc, how are they implying substantial error is evil? I don’t understand. I do understand now how pretending to resign could fool many uneducated Catholics, such as myself, into believing Bergoglio is pope. If it weren’t for blogs like this, I probably would believe Benedict resigned. I’ve got to believe, scratch that I KNOW of elderly people at my ICK parish who don’t follow these types of blogs and they all firmly believe Bergoglio is pope. They want NOTHING to do with some internet people saying something different than “The Church”. How can we justify Benedict fooling so many Catholics?

    2. I don’t think the Holy Father can “save” the church or the see of Peter. That is God’s domain. The Church and the see have Divine protection and don’t need saving.
      We are def experiencing a chastisement though.

  9. I’m of the simple opinion that one of two things is correct:
    1. bergoglio is not pope, and that Benedict XVI is still Pope (Basically Ms. Barnhardt is 100% right, and will be a Saint in a thousand years).
    2. Christianity is complete bunk, and I should stop wasting my time every Sunday, and I should donate my collection of Catholic books (including the Vulgate, several TLM Missals, Byzantine-Rite Missals, and various Greek and Latin Loeb Classical Library editions of Church Fathers).
    Probably like every other Catholic of good will, I gave bergoglio a fair shot when he emerged on that balcony. I was expecting him to be liberal, because hey, most of the hierarchy is liberal, and I think Cardinal Burke is too liberal compared to me, so almost anyone isn’t going to measure up.
    I wasn’t expecting this complete train wreck that can only be explained by Ms. Barnhardt’s arguments, OR… That Christianity is 100% false.
    The pachamama event sent me over the edge, and I re-examined Ms. Barnhardt’s arguments, and those arguments seem “sound” and I’ve yet to hear a good counter argument against her very simple and easy to understand arguments.
    She’s on one side saying, “1+1=2! Take one of something, and one of the same thing, and you have two! Case closed!” And her opponents, when they give her the time of day, say, “There’s an infinite number of numbers between 1 and 2, so you really can’t be sure…” When just ten years ago before this mess, they were all saying “1+1=2” just like her.
    The Successor of St. Peter, Vicar of the One True God on Earth, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity openly worshiped a demon.
    To accept that bergoglio is pope I would need to accept that. And I can’t. He’s doing a very good job of showing the world he is an anti-Pope at best, and a complete raving heretical lunatic at worst, and I’m prepared to go to my grave with that belief, and say so before Almighty God! When the priests commemorate bergoglio at Mass that I attend, I silently say, “Benedictus” in my own little way to show God what I believe.
    If that man is “pope” then I (and everyone) should walk away from Christianity entirely! Jesus was a raving wandering madman, he conned simple-minded fisherman, He got what he deserved from the Roman Authorities, and it is just pure dumb luck that the Catholic Church made it just shy of 2000 years without a demon-worshiping heretic being elected!

    1. I agree that AB simply is just pointing out that 1+1=2. She has the most simple, logical answer and explanation to this pile of horse sh*t we are in. On the other hand maybe we don’t all need to be arguing about the nuances of it if we all agree that jorge isn’t pope…are we all (myself included) just arguing for the sake of arguing. Anyway, I can tell that both the 15D chess and substantial error sides have both thought out their sides of the debate and desire the restoration of the papacy and the church. I guess Mark is right we all just need to hang in there.

  10. All it means is that Benedict, as a clever German, thought he could do something new with the papacy in order not to lose it entirely to Satan. Because he admitted he could flee from fear of the wolves. I don’t know what his intent was beyond that, but the effect has been that we now have an antipope and completely evil man trying to establish the anti-Church. B16 needs corrected, he needs to admit it, and somehow he needs back on the Chair.

    1. We agree that either way, Bergoglio was never pope. But our position is that the root cause is a fake conclave, called while the Seat was not vacant. Distinctions matter.

  11. I have been thinking about this tempest today, and it just strikes me as really strange – all this emotional certainty that everyone seems to have over inner motivations and spiritual schemes of Pope Benedict.
    How in the world can anyone claim to know *why* he did it and what his purposes really were and are? How can anyone know what his conversations consisted of in his inner chamber between himself and God, whom he serves *directly*.
    Speculation. All of it.
    – Cionci came up with a speculation about why: protecting the Office from malign forces, Interesting.
    – Barnhardt came up with a speculation about why: he misunderstands the Papacy. Interesting.
    – Cionci asserts Benedict never intended to resign and chose Ministerium on purpose for that reason. Ok.
    – Mazza asserts Benedict intended to resign in erroneous understanding and chose Ministerium on purpose for that reason. Ok.
    BOTH assert substantial error renders him in sole possession of the Papacy. THAT we know.
    Both assert different underlying motivations. That we DON’T know.
    And then, this disappointing whopper from Dr. Mazza: “Now that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is calling for an investigation of Benedict’s Renunciation and Francis’ Election, *the last thing we need is to lose credibility by proposing theories that open us so easily to ridicule and accusations of Gnosticism*.”
    Credibility? Who.Really.Cares? It’s either true, or it’s not. And Cionci’s speculations are no less relevant than your own, Dr. Mazza; and no more or less credible, either, as far as I’m concerned.
    At the end of the day, you’re left with the same cold, hard fact (and only this fact): Benedict resigned in substantial error and is still Pope.
    To me this looks like an academician slap fight.

    1. Aqua, you misstate the position of Cionci et al, and I must conclude you didn’t thoroughly read their argument. They declare Substantial Error as outdated and superseded by their secret code discovery of intentional scuttling of resignation with Benedict’s full knowledge and consent. The two theories are utterly irreconcilable.

      1. No Mark, I have read Cionci any number of times today as I’m trying to get a grip on why this document is controversial (still haven’t figured that out). But I do think I understand him well enough.
        Cionci states this (among many other similar things): “The first point to make is that Declaratio is not invalid solely because of the munus/ministerium inversion (etc … he lists numerous other invalidating errors)”.
        Why would such an inversion render the Declaratio invalid? Substantial error.
        Cionci comes to completely different conclusions as to *why* he did this. Barnhardt says he is in error – he made a big mistake, likely driven by underlying fatal Teutonic heretical belief. Cionci says he did it on purpose, likely driven by a desire to save the Church from satanic malignity.
        I can see logic on both sides. I am more persuaded by Cionci’s argument and I always have been in my personal speculations (emphasis on *speculation*).
        I also find this closing statement by Cionci highly compelling, in the face of all this strange controversy:
        – quote –
        “Too good to be true? No. Here we are, in the presence of something, the apostasy within the Church, known to the true popes since Fatima (1917): they had been preparing for decades. And, in any case, we are talking about the legitimate Vicar of Someone who is surely a great artist.
        Please: let us cooperate, let us combine our research efforts like American Thomas A. Edison and Italian Alessandro Cruto, who both invented the light bulb each drawing on the other’s discoveries. And there is much need for light in this dark night.
        History will not forgive any personalistic entrenchments.”
        – end quote –
        Yeah. If nothing else, that for sure speaks for me.

      1. What is Gnosticism other than access to secret knowledge of truth, and how does the Cionci thesis differ from this? No one has dared answer the Fourth Question.

      2. Mark, I’ll take a crack at the “Fourth Question”.
        Cionci confirms who the valid Pope is in the same way you do (Barnhardt, me etc): Invalid resignation. He states that at the beginning. I listed all the reasons he stated for invalidity right here in this thread (above). They are quantifiable and easily known, starting with the “Munus/Ministerium inversion” – the big one.
        – quote –
        “The first point to make is that Declaratio is not invalid solely because of the munus/ministerium inversion. Pope Benedict literally “undermined” that document with a *series of “canonical explosive charges*.”
        – end quote –
        “Invalid”. Game over. He’s Pope.
        Then (only then) he delves into speculation as to why – what motivated him to do this? That’s actually an important question, because if Barnhardt is right, then Vatican I defined Divine protections are invalid in this case and we have a heretic who is actively trying to impose the Miller thesis on the Church and destroy Holy Mother Church at the cornerstone. But if Cionci is right, then Benedict is a hero, because he is actively and daily protecting and sustaining the Office of Pope from “the wolves” in the Office, now impeded, hidden.
        As to charges of Gnosticism, if it were applied to Cionci, then FairPlay would apply it also to Barnhardt – since her charges stem from her belief that Ratzinger is fundamentally in error and always has been, and her best proof is in a book about the synodal papacy thesis written as a Doctoral paper 40 years ago. I’m not saying it’s not compelling. I always have. But to say Cionci in this little paper is Gnostic, and the other side is not? That’s not fair.

        1. Aqua,
          I’m not a theologian, but I’m pretty sure the supernatural protection of the Petrine promises, as codified at Vatican I, are strictly limited to the Pope’s role as teacher of the faithful. What we are dealing with here is a juridical act.
          In terms of the Gnosticism charge not being fair: Barnhardt relies on visible evidence, Cionci appeals to a secret code.

      3. Dear Mark,
        For the purposes of this discussion it seems that you want to reduce the term ‘Gnosticism’ down to meaning a “secret knowledge of truth.” After scrolling the wheel of my mouse 21 times to get to the end of the Catholic Encyclopedia’s comprehensive look at the term from the newadvent.org webpage that you kindly provided… I think perhaps you may be making too much out of this notion of secrecy and hiddenness being akin to an evil heresy. We know from Sacred Scripture that secrecy is not necessarily evil and at times intimately connected to Salvation history.
        Proverbs 11:13
        He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
        but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing hidden.
        Proverbs 25:2
        It is the glory of God to conceal things,
        but the glory of kings is to search things out.
        Proverbs 25:9
        Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
        and do not disclose another’s secret;
        Psalm 64:2
        hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
        from the scheming of evildoers,
        Ecclesiastes 10:20
        Even in your thought, do not curse the king,
        nor in your bedchamber curse the rich;
        for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
        or some winged creature tell the matter.
        Amos 3:7
        Surely the Lord God does nothing,
        without revealing his secret
        to his servants the prophets.
        Micah 7:5
        Believe not a friend, and trust not in a prince: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that sleepeth in thy bosom.
        Matthew 6:1
        “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
        Matthew 6:4
        so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
        Matthew 13:11
        And He answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
        Mark 4:11
        And He said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables;
        Mark 8:29-30
        And He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And He charged them to tell no one about him.
        Mark 14:12-14
        [You’ll recall the importance of secrecy regarding the Upper Room]
        Luke 8:10
        He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
        Luke 24:13-35
        [You’ll recall how Our Blessed Lord behaved “On the Road to Emmaus”]
        “There are moments when Our Lord is able to act in such a way that perhaps his Vicar can also act in the same way… if you catch my drift.” – Dr. Edmund Mazza, Barnhardt Podcast #113 @56:20 and following

      4. I’m certainly no theologian either, but there has been much reference here and on Barnhardt’s site on Vatican I defined (not limited to) protections of the Pope, by God, from error when speaking to Faith and Morals “from the Chair”, which means more than just “Ex Cathedra”. And an existential resignation letter read by the Pope from the literal Chair seems to me to fit the criteria.
        And the assertion is that Benedict is trying to destroy the Chair, from the Chair, via the Miller thesis of a synodal Papacy. I don’t disagree that that’s possible, but there are real important implications to that, from the perspective of Vatican I protections assured by God to the Church. Given this, it seems space should be granted to another possibility – *since there is no possible way you can know with certainty WHY he actually did it this way* – such as a Cionci’s whose pieces fit more reasonably from the Vatican I Divine protections assurance that God will not permit the Pope to damage Faith and Morals *from the Chair* (and his existentially important resignation was in fact read from the literal Chair).
        BOTH *theories* for *why* he did it start from the presumption the presumption that the resignation was not valid rendering Pope Benedict XVI *still the Pope* and the subsequent Conclave invalid. The charge of gnostic can only be applied to one’s opinion about the conclusions that *follow* from the base premise of invalid resignation. The conclusions are not determinitive of the most important point, but merely guide us to a general understanding of our Holy Father’s intent.

  12. I find Ann, Mark, and Dr. Mazza’s points very persuasive.
    Antipope Bergoglio is so awful that we Catholics tend to forget that Pope Benedict espoused many modernist errors and was personally responsible for the confusion and the imprecise definitions of Vatican II because of his love for the heretical and anti-Scholastic nouveau theologie. Two recent heretical errors of Pope Benedict: 1) He believes that we are justified by faith alone, just like Luther, and 2) He does not believe that original sin is inherited. (Exact quotes in Dr. Christopher Malloy’s False Mercy:: Recent Heresies Distorting Catholic Truth.)
    Now if Pope Benedict has these modernist errors, it it really believable that he is some type of Q Catholic playing 5D chess and is a genius trying to secretly save the Church? That is Gnosticism.

    1. It would only be the level of heresy that separates him from Bergoglio, if we accept that he’s a modernist. If he knew what the Church teaches and still persisted, he can’t be the pope either.

  13. Both sides are reading into his intent, something that we cannot do with certainty. Substantial error points to the evidence of what certain Catholics have said about a novel interpretation of the papacy. “He must have believed it because he resigned something and called Francis pope.” The Ratzinger code theory tells us that he made a false resignation on purpose. It points to the fact that this articulate man is now so inarticulate. It looks like he speaks with mental reservation. If he, with mental reservation, said “Pope Francis”—that’s musta stage name everyone knows him by.
    Both sides appeal to hidden variables to explain why his resignation failed: namely his intent, which only God knows with certainty.

  14. Only God knows what has transpired, we can debate and conjecture about details but we are not privy to God’s knowledge at this moment.Let him who has eyes to see and ears to hear use them to ascertain the obvious facts: the Catholic Church has been invaded and sabotaged, the current claimant to the papal throne is a heretic and the other resident of the Vatican has caused great confusion and loss of Faith due to his actions, for whatever reasons they were done. One thing we know “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph “. Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us on this the feast of thy many victories!

  15. I found an anamoly that may contradict the voluntary substantial error thesis. Benedict allegedly said, “The pope is one, it is Francis.” The only way I see it not contradicting the idea of splitting the papacy is if he tried to then realized he failed to. The only way for BiP to explain this is to say the press is being deceptive, or Benedict is talking in in code, not saying exactly what he means.
    There is much gaslighting like the claim that he dresses in white because he had nothing else in his wardrobe, which would mean that in 9 years no one bothered to buy the pope emeritus new clothes. Or we could see it as him making a statement that he is not free to openly utter,

    1. T, for clarification, my understanding is that the quote, “the Pope is one” never had the qualifier and it is Francis. The Pope is one. Period.

      1. I just wanted to be sure so I stuck to what the “journalists” stated. If he says the pope is one, and we take it at face value, then he doesn’t believe he split the papacy.

      2. T: I almost missed your little comment. That (drawing the conclusion) actually seems important to note.

  16. Ann’s view is the simplest and best. By her view it doesn’t matter what Pope Benedict’s motive was, rather, by canon law, and canon law alone, with what Pope Benedict wrote as his renunciation proves that his act was in substantial error. Case closed.
    By the way, anything requiring a secret code is just plain wrong. It’s like the Protestants with their “bible code”.

    1. What about the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse)? All wrong according to you? In times of persecution Christians – and Jesus Himself – have always used codes to communicate.

      1. Imagery in the Bible is of course correct. ‘Codes’ invented by men is not.
        That is not the important part of my post. Pope Benedict violated canon law. Canon law says this means it didn’t happen. Therefore Benedict is still the Pope.

    2. Just to be clear: Cionci’s thesis does not require “code” and “gnostic membership” to understand. It is quite simple, no less than Barnhardt’s: Benedict is Pope because he did not resign the Office. Period. Game over.
      Why did he do it this way and what is he doing now, while hidden within the Vatican?
      Cionci has speculations. Barnhardt has speculations. Both can be arcane and difficult to follow, depending on how deep you wish to go. In the case of Barnhardt, that means reading a 40 year old Doctoral dissertation, available only on GoogleReads, and connecting its conclusions to the present moment.
      The “headlines” say Cionci is a “code conspiracist” that only an gnostic can understand. Baloney. I think that is very, very misleading – and unfortunate since the situation is so desperate and answers so limited.

      1. It’s Cionci himself who claims discovery of the code and has named it Ratzinger Code. And the Miller dissertation does not prove nor is it needed to prove Substantial Error. It merely provides the backdrop of a crucial topic of late 20th Century papal theology, so the reader can grasp the ideas contained therein.

      2. Neither is “the Ratzinger Code” required by Cionci to prove Benedict is still Pope. That is his first premise, proved in the same that you, me, Barnhardt, others prove. He gets there in the same way.
        Invalid resignation is first. It’s in the opening paragraphs.
        Ratzinger Code is second. It’s in the subsequent paragraphs.
        Barnhardt got to the Miller thesis long, long after she asserted the fact of the invalid resignation. Her proof of invalidity does not depend on her Miller thesis. Neither does Cionci’s depend on the “Ratzinger Code”.
        Take the “Ratzinger Code” completely away from the thesis and your still left with Cionci proving an invalid resignation. I don’t know how else to say it. The essential point is proved by Cionci that Benedict is not Pope via his invalid resignation – he did not resign.
        Invalid resignation; Invalid Conclave; Benedict still Pope … Both agree.
        The Ratzinger Code is merely an explanation for *Why*.
        The Miller thesis is merely an explanation for *Why*.

  17. All this is why ultimately we need to officially drag Benedict out and simply ASK THE GUY.
    Either his resignation was invalid because of informal error and he remains Pope.
    Or his resignation was invalid because of formal error, which if found to be obstinately held at the time makes his resignation a red herring as being a hereric, he himself ceased to be the Pope, and the conclave was valid. Then either the election of Francis was invalid or Francis was illicitly elected due to conclave shemanigans, but he too by being a formal heretic also loses the Papacy and we are in a state of sedevacantism.
    Benedict must be dragged out in public, humiliatingly if necessary, and questioned as one who is suspect.

    1. Johnno – I disagree that we can drag the Pope out, humiliatingly if we have to. He is the Vicar of Christ, Monarch of Holy Mother Church. I think that is frequently forgotten. What he has done, he has done as Christ’s Vicar with all Papal protections guaranteed by Sacred Tradition. His Office is Holy and must be respected. What he has done is between him and God, and his judgement will be either especially beatific if his faith is heroic (we don’t know) or his judgement most severe if he has been unfaithful to God and His Bride (we don’t know that either).
      What the Pope did, as Mark said,
      I think it would be much more fruitful, legal and proper to “haul” all the Cardinals of the Conclave in, (“Imperfect Council”?) especially the Camerlengo, for questioning. “Please explain yourselves in light of this, this and this (etc)”.

      1. *: fat posting finger
        “What the Pope did, as Mark said,” … he did on his own merits and upon his own judgement and rights as Pope”. We know all we need to know from him, because that is what the Pope chose to give us.

      2. Johnno: “If he doesn’t consider himself to be the Pope, then what obligation do I have to respect an office he claims he does not hold?”
        This is the nut of the Cionci argument, and so far it is no different than the “Barnhardt” argument: he very much *does* consider himself still the Pope, which is why he retained the Munus and loaned out the Ministerium; why he remains as visible Pope (etc). On that they both agree.
        Cionci, however, proposes Pope Benedict chose this heroically in response to mortal threat to the Papal Office and also to the Church from satanic malignant forces which we can easily see now. He took the Papacy “into hiding” (Impeded See).
        I find that proposition compelling and it matches what I’ve assumed almost since the beginning.
        Either way, I think it’s easy to forget, in the age of antipope, the majesty and honor tied to the Monarchic Throne of Christ’s visible Vicar on earth. If Cionci is right, in the years to come we may not even see the true Pope, hidden as he may well still be in the Impeded See through the foreseeable future in this, the time of chastisement. I honor the Office and the man, whether I see him or don’t.

    2. Aqua, I am perfectly willing to submit myself to him for forgiveness after the fact, if he does turn out to be the true Vicar of Christ, admits it, and recants or explains himself sufficiently.
      If he doesn’t consider himself to be the Pope, then what obligation do I have to respect an office he claims he does not hold? I don’t respect contradiction. If he wants the respect owed to his particular office, then he needs to own up to it. He only has himself to blame. If he is under duress, then that too he needs to admit, or else he is owed nothing.
      He needs to be called out and resisted to his face. These are extraordinary times, and being meowing pussycats in the face of this level of spiritual lethargy and cowardice and two-tongued-ness is deserving of every chastisement coming to us.

      1. Sorry Johnno, attached my comment to the wrong spot. My response is above (fwiw). God bless!

      2. One last comment on *why does the See need to be impeded*? Why not just assert Papal power and authority?
        Because the Church has been overrun top to bottom. That’s why.
        As it stood at that time, there was a chance that (by assassination, who knows) a high prince of the satanic church itself might have ascended into the Papal Office. Knowing what I know now, I don’t exclude that as a possibility well within the scope of Benedict’s thinking.

        1. Ironically, even if Impeded See was the object that Benedict fixed his will too, this would also be substantial error, because the stipulations of Canon 412 had clearly not been met. Was Benedict entirely unable to communicate to his flock? Absolute nonsense.

      3. Mark,
        Canon 412 is a subset of “PARTICULAR CHURCHES AND THE AUTHORITY ESTABLISHED IN THEM (Cann. 368 – 430)”.
        Ch 1: Particular Churches
        Ch 2: Bishops (in general, diocesan Bishops, coadjutor and auxiliary Bishops)
        Ch 3: The impeded See (episcopal Sees referring to Diocesan Bishops and parochial Vicars)
        Ch 4: The vacant See (episcopal Sees referring to Diocesan Bishops and parochial Vicars)
        I don’t see Canon 412 as binding on the Supreme Pontiff in a time of grave emergency.
        Canon 332 is a subset of a section specifically devoted to definitions of Papal authority: The Roman Pontiff and the College of Bishops (330-367).
        Even so, the relevant sentence of 412 – “An episcopal see is understood to be impeded if by reason of captivity, banishment, exile, or incapacity a diocesan bishop is clearly prevented from fulfilling his pastoral function in the diocese, so that he is not able to communicate with those in his diocese even by letter” – is really to be judged by the Supreme Pontiff, isn’t it? Isn’t that how these things are supposed to work? Who else would he go to for permission?
        I’m not saying that he saw and was responding to a grave emergency, not even that he entered into an Impeded See. Nor am I saying that he destroyed the Papacy by imposing the Miller thesis and intentionally turning the Papacy into a Synod of cooperators. Neither *theory* is provable … for now.
        But neither am I saying either one is absolute nonsense, either.

        1. Aqua,
          “so that he is not able to communicate with those in his diocese even by letter”
          Is a necessary condition for 412 to trigger. Cionci bases his argument on 412 being triggered. It’s a non-starter.

      4. Mark,
        You cannot know what threats he was possibly facing in a world that is now run by demonic angels … you just wrote your latest article about them. They are now fully in control of secular governments and (imo) the visible structures of the RCC – top to bottom. So, if you are the Pope, and you see that you have “lost the ship” (as it were), not just the College of Cardinals but the vast majority of Bishops and the bureaucratic administration of Vatican Dicastries … not to mention the financial and banking systems and foreign powers … I don’t know what forces a Pope sees, but imagine being a Pope with the knowledge that you stand totally, utterly alone – surrounded almost literally by demons from hell. And not only that, but that upon your death the Office you now occupied will be for certain occupied by one of these malign forces – satanic – for this is their moment, obviously (to me).
        I’m not saying he couldn’t do what you say. But, I’m not the Pope, nor are you, and can’t possibly know what he knows. His reasons are his reasons. Given the evil we see at our own personal level (I’ve had to quit my job, career actually, and relocate my entire family because I could not come to my own reasonable terms with the evil), given that personally experience evil, I am willing to entertain the notion that what the Pope faces is quantum levels beyond what you or I or anyone can possibly know … since he is at the “tip of the spear”, (as it were), and the devils’ primary target.
        Communication would have been nice. But the safety of Holy Mother Church, the glory of God and protecting the sanctity and safety of the Holy Papal Office far supersedes my need for personal knowledge. The Pope must do what the Pope must do – which I hope is not the Miller Thesis heresy – for the glory of God. Any Catholic has all they need to know, during the time of chastisement. If I can figure out who is the Pope and that I don’t have to follow the other heretic because he is outside the bounds of Tradition … anyone can.

  18. I tried several times to post a comment but it didn’t work. I will try again.
    The substantial error theory leads to much worse consequences than Cionci’s plan B theory and also does not explain some elements. Correct me if I am wrong.
    1) If Benedict XVI supports the two-pope theory, why doesn’t he say so openly?
    Are there writings of Benedict xvi in which he openly refers to the shared/synodal/collegial papacy, or is this concept only present in Ganswein’s speech (2016)?
    Why does he send messages that there is only one pope (without specifying which one)?
    Why does he reply that he wears white for lack of other clothes?
    Why does he link his renunciation to historical anti-papal struggles? (see Brandmuller’s letter)
    2) From what I understand, in the substantial error theory Benedict XVI did not normally want to abdicate, to renounce the papacy, but to operate a transformation of the papacy itself: the collegial papacy (or enlarged papacy). In this way, according to him, there could be 2 true popes: Bergoglio, the ‘active’, reigning pope and Benedict, the ‘contemplative’, “emeritus” pope.
    Therefore, it can be deduced that in this position Bergoglio has munus and ministerium (he is the reigning pope), while Benedict has only munus (he is pope, but he no longer acts as pope, except for some things (blessings, etc…)).
    Now, obviously this is impossible. There cannot be two popes. The papacy cannot be divided into two. So since Benedict did not want to renounce the papacy, he unintentionally remained the only reigning pope. Right?
    If so, however, the situation is worse than the Plan B thesis.
    You say that if Plan B is true, then Benedict XVI is a deceiver, an immoral, because he voluntarily made an invalid renunciation as a strategic act to save the Church.
    But in the substantial error theory in the same way Benedict XVI is guilty.
    It is true that he remained involuntarily the only pope, who made a ‘substantial error’ in Declaratio, but he voluntarily tried to divide the papacy and create impossible things like the collegial papacy or the emeritus papacy. It was not an unintentional mistake or a mistake due to ignorance. It was a deliberate crime against the papacy itself. Much worse than war deception against enemies or invalid renunciation by external compulsion.
    If Benedict XVI has always had this absurd conception of the papacy, how could he really accept the papacy after his election? Does not accepting a role with the intent to demolish and disfigure it invalidate the acceptance? Could one therefore speak of ‘substantial error’ in the 2005 election as well?
    3) In Plan B (sede impedita) Benedict XVI is under threat and is forced to make public acts in which he apparently recognizes Bergoglio as the reigning pope, as the leader.
    In the substantial error Benedict XVI voluntarily recognizes Bergoglio as Pope and his boss and voluntarily says nothing against Bergoglio’s actions. This is much worse.
    Moreover, how can he remain pope if he voluntarily submits to an apostate antipope?

    1. Th4MQ:
      Once I was convinced of the “Munus/Ministerium inversion”, *who* occupies the Office of Pope has been without question in my mind. Everything that has happened since then has only confirmed it. It has only gone in one direction: confirmation that Benedict remains Pope, Bergoglio is not in the Office of Pope even though he is acting as Pope (“and making a mess of things”, as he said).
      – then –
      There have been endless speculations as to *why*. I have personally always been persuaded that, allegorically, Benedict is like the Captain of a ship, commissioned by the King, who has experienced Mutinee from his crew … the helm is now in possession of a criminal going places unintended and unauthorized by the King; the true Captain is invisible because he is confined to quarters below deck … “ontologically” he is true Captain, but practically speaking someone else is acting as Captain until such time as *proper order is restored* by the King and/or his agents. That allegory is what made sense to me almost from the beginning.
      I have never ascribed to the view that Benedict is a willing “Mutineer against the King”, a participant in the piracy of his own ship (as it were). And as others have said above, he has given no indication that he is actively trying to achieve such ends by any of his actions since the false abdication.
      It makes sense to me that Benedict is saving the ship and his rank by going into hiding until such time as higher forces can regain control from the bandits.
      That’s my opinion, which fit the facts as I see them.
      Importantly: it is not necessary to know *why* he did it … just to acknowledge who is the true “Captain” – the man down below, or the man currently at the helm giving orders. We are required to declare loyalty, before the King finds his Ship and demands an account.

  19. What is being revealed is that the infiltration of idolatry is being carried out both by bishops of modernism and by some of the traditionalists who charge the magisterium of the last popes and today in BXVI. The wolf is trying to separate the sheep from the sheep in both ways. ..one way by disrupting the liturgy and morals in accordance with a religious propaganda of the new world order and another by ion of the people keeping them in virtue but making them doubt and reject the charisms of the Holy Spirit, we know that rejecting the Holy Spirit is not forgiven because it renews the Church and by blocking that portion they prevent communion with the Living Church Jesus is still present in the Eucharist in the Roman rite facing the people…also.
    These Bishops know that condemning Beneficto XVI pays them back to become owners of the Lord’s vineyard.
    Sadly, these bishops practice idolatry of mother earth… even if they wear traditionalist or modernist dresses.
    It is a painful truth comparable to the history of Israel that betrayed God with idolatrous practices in the very temple of Jerusalem.
    a few impious bishops are weaving a web of favors, elevating in this stage of the Church the members of her sects and all of them feel terror of the vicar of Christ, precursor of Jesus of Nazareth in his second coming

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