Benedict is really, really still not pope! Really!

September 21, 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) – Two letters written by Benedict XVI to Cardinal Brandmüller were recently published in part in the German paper, Bild.  Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register has now published these letters in full, and these may be read in their entirety in his article on the subject (see here). The letters were part of correspondence in 2017 between Benedict XVI and Cardinal Brandmüller. Those who first published the leaked extracts of the letters tried to spin them; suggesting that in them Benedict XVI distanced himself from the critics of Pope Francis. A reading of the full letters is sufficient to demonstrate this was not the case.

The particular interest in mentioning them here on Roma Locuta Est is to point out that the letters are further proof – as if any more were really needed(!) – of the utter vacuity of the theories suggesting Benedict XVI is still pope. I did not take delight when Benedict XVI resigned. I do not take delight in a Francis papacy, which may already be rated as combining some of the worst aspects of some, if not all, of the worst popes (e.g., Liberius, Honorius, John XXII, etc) in the history of the Catholic Church. Therefore, understandably, an increasing number of Catholics have a growing unease over Pope Francis – and are looking for an explanation for what is happening in Rome.  Indeed, Cardinal Eijk of the Netherlands in a commentary published in the National Catholic Register in May 2018 (see here) speaks with evident distress about the silence of Pope Francis over the question of intercommunion and an “apostasy from the truth.”  Cardinal Eijk wrote in concluding his commentary:

Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The Church’s ultimate trial

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”

Not surprisingly, in the face of such seeming failures to “maintain and transmit faithfully” the deposit of the faith, Catholics are wondering if there might be something of an ‘escape clause’ or ‘escape hatch’ from this papacy; perhaps a declaration Francis is an anti-pope never properly elected or perhaps that he is a pope who has deposed himself through acts of formal heresy.

Obviously, even in such a truly apocalyptic scenario, Catholics would need to rely on their shepherds, faithful cardinals and bishops – however few in number – to lead the way. But even setting that aside for the moment, any unease with this papacy, however  justified, does not relieve one of the responsibility to honestly assess the evidence, even if this assessment yields undesirable conclusions. If we are to comprehend the situation in which the Church finds itself today then we need to assess the evidence and face the facts as they are – and not follow after theories which are contradicted by them.  Here I have two theories in mind which are contradicted by the evidence and common sense.

  1. Pope Benedict XVI’s apparent resignation is invalid because it was forced, and not freely offered.  Because Benedict XVI’s resignation was offered under duress – perhaps due to the machinations of the St. Gallen mafia – it is invalid.  Therefore, Benedict XVI is still pope and, as a consequence, Francis is an anti-pope.
  2. Pope Benedict XVI did not have proper intent in his resignation.  He believed he could surrender the active ministry of the Petrine office, while holding onto the “contemplative” part of it, i.e., he believed, in essence, there could be two popes. However, it is impossible to divide the Petrine office. Therefore Benedict’s intent to resign on these conditions involved a “substantial error.” Therefore, Benedict is still pope and, as a consequence, Francis is an anti-pope. (NB: A variant of this theory is that Benedict XVI intended to make a defective resignation!).

It is not my intent to go over old ground here, as the dusty, cobwebbed archival vaults of Roma Locuta Est have several articles in them which address and or debunk both these theories (see Thoughts on Free Will and Hypothetical Papal Plots  and Benedict is NOT pope  and Benedict is STILL not Pope  and A Filial Correction of those who believe Benedict is still Pope?).  My only intent here – returning to the subject of the recently published letters of Benedict XVI (post abdication) – is only to further demonstrate, as I said, the utter vacuity of the theories.  I regret this is necessary, but the adherents of these theories simply will not sign the death certificates – no matter how many stakes have been driven through the theories’ hearts, no matter how many silver bullets have been pumped into the theories’ bodies, and no matter the heart monitors are flat lining.

Here are the letters, as they appeared in Edward Pentin’s article.  My comments are in RED. In these letters to Cardinal Brandmüller, Benedict writes:

From the letter dated: 9 November 2017

Your Eminence,

In your recent interview with the FAZ [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] you say that I created, with the construction of the Pope Emeritus, a figure that does not exist in the entirety of Church history. Of course, you know very well that popes have retired, even if very rarely. What were they afterwards? Pope Emeritus? Or what instead? [O’Reilly Comments: Benedict XVI attempts to justify his choice of a title post resignation.  He calls to the Cardinal’s remembrance other popes have retired, i.e., something Benedict has done, and now he asked the Cardinal “what were they afterwards?” Certainly an admission he has ‘retired’ or resigned]

As you know, Pius XII left instructions in case of being captured by the Nazis: that from the moment of his capture he would no longer be Pope but a Cardinal again. Whether this simple return to the Cardinalate would have been in fact possible, we do not know.  In my case it surely would not have made sense simply to claim a return to the Cardinalate. I then would have constantly been exposed to the public in the way a Cardinal is – indeed, even more so, because in that Cardinal one would have seen the former Pope. [O’Reilly Comments: Benedict XVI continues his apologetic for choice of “emeritus” as a post resignation title.  Even more, he suggests he had concern over being seen as a Cardinal, one in whom one “would have seen the former pope.”  An admission again, Benedict sees himself as a “former” pope.] This could have led, intentionally or unintentionally, to difficult consequences, particularly in the context of the present situation. With the Papa Emeritus I have tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely inaccessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one Pope. If you know of a better way and thus believe that you may condemn the one I have chosen, please tell me about it.  [O’Reilly Comments: Benedict XVI is squabbling with Brandmuller over titles as former pope, not over the fact of whether he is still pope!  Further, Benedict states he wanted to be inaccessible to the media so that “it is completely clear that there is only one Pope“!  It may also be observed Benedict speak of what “I have tried to create”, i.e., he did this of his own free will, contrary to those who might assert he acted under duress.]

I greet you in the Lord


Benedict XVI

From the letter dated: 23 November 2017

Your Eminence,

From your kind letter of November 15th I assume I may conclude that in the future you no longer want to comment publicly on the question of my resignation, and for this I thank you.

The deep-seated pain that the end of my pontificate has caused in you, as in many others, I can understand very well. But the pain in some — and it seems to me also in you — has turned into anger, which no longer regards only the resignation, but increasingly is expanding to my person and to my pontificate as a whole. [O’Reilly Comments: Benedict XVI clearly refers explicitly to the end of his pontificate (“the end of my pontificate”).  There is no partial ending.  No half ending. His pontificate…has ended!]

In this manner a pontificate is being devalued and fused into a sadness about the situation of the Church today. From this fusion a new kind of agitation gradually results, for which the little book by Fabrizio Grasso, La rinuncia (Algra Editore, Viagrande/Catania 2017) could become emblematic.

All this fills me with worry and, precisely for that reason, the end of your FAZ interview left me so troubled, because it ultimately cannot but foster the same sort of atmosphere.

Let us pray instead, as you did at the end of your letter, that the Lord may come to the aid of his Church. With my Apostolic blessing I am [O’Reilly Comments: I will pass over Benedict’s comments about the “situation of the Church”, as the focus in this article is to address the question of his being still pope or not.  Of course, we see, he says he is not.  Still, oddly, Benedict gives his “Apostolic blessing”.  Certainly, puzzling…but it may be by dint of former habit or perhaps Pope Francis delegated it to him (see here). No doubt, the conspiracy theorists will latch on to this, I suppose. Regardless, the weight of the evidence against the theories is overwhelming, and the content of these recent letters only adds to this.] 


Benedict XVI

The Church teaches to be in communion with the Successor of St. Peter is necessary for salvation (cf. Unam Sanctam and CCC 2089). Therefore, the stakes are quite high for those Catholics who would reject – and lead others to reject – the legitimacy of Francis, who by all outward appearance of canonical form, process and procedure was duly and validly elected pope. But, is there something ‘going on’ with Francis? Ultimately, we must rely on our shepherds – faithful cardinals and bishops – to deal with the situation, whether that be through a formal correction of Pope Francis, or even as some are suggesting now, through an “imperfect council” (see here, here an here), such as in the case of Pope Benedict IX, to perhaps evaluate the evidence of the different anti-pope theories (see here), the role of Pope Francis in the abuse scandals (i.e., Archbishop Viganó’s testimony), as well as potential formal heresies – with the possibility of declaring Francis deposed should the evidence warrant this.

Even if we were to entertain Cardinal Eijk’s hypothesis that we might be living in the days of CCC 675, i.e., a time of a religious deception – and even if we were to further hypothesize (which Eijk does not state, at least no explicitly) that perhaps Francis is part of this deception, the Benedict is still Pope theories are still without any merit in such a moment. The recently published letters we’ve examined above only add to the overwhelming case against both of the “Benedict is still Pope” theories as well as their variants. There is no indication of duress in these letters. In fact, the contrary is evident as Benedict speaks of his decision-making process in choosing the title he would use after his resignation. There is no indication that Benedict intended to retain any portion of his papal office for himself. To the contrary, in the letters he speaks of being seen as the “former pope.” Furthermore, Benedict speaks of his plan to be inaccessible to the media so as to make it “completely clear that there is only one Pope” (and it’s not him!), and he also speaks of the end of his pontificate (“the end of my pontificate“). I will not say this letter evidence put the final nail in the coffin of these “Benedict is still Pope” theories, but only because that coffin was already nailed securely shut – as well as bolted, super-glued, wrapped in chains, and immersed in reinforced concrete.

Benedict is not pope. The only thing to be added to that is to say: Benedict is really, really still not pope!  Really!   [NB: La Stampa’s Vatican Insider is trumpeting the same letters to show Benedict is not pope (see here). It pains me to say this because I hate to see that Vatican Insider and Roma Locuta Est might be in general agreement on anything.  However, the reader may take solace recalling that like the proverbial broken clock perhaps even Vatican Insider might be correct on the rare occasion.]

My thoughts and comments on other anti-pope theories may be found here and here.

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Margaret O’Reilly.  He lives near Atlanta with his family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).




8 thoughts on “Benedict is really, really still not pope! Really!

  1. Dear Mr. O’Reilly, I read this article as well as your other two unBiPper articles and I respect your opinion. However, I think the set of speculations you set forth here and elsewhere are less fact-based than is the thesis upon which the following summary is based. People of greater knowledge than either you or I should seriously look at the full thesis which “responsibly and honestly accesses the evidence”.

    Pope Benedict is a Latin scholar. In his February 11, 2013 LATIN announcement by using the Subjunctive Potential/Consecutive Case as well as unexpectedly using the Subjunctive Case rather than the Indicative Case, he has shown himself to be as “wise as a serpent.”

    Benedict told us plainly his three intentions in LATIN: he indicated that no Conclave would be needed because he was retaining the Petrine Office and hence its Three Powers while at the same time officially declining to use two of those powers. Having once accepted the Papal Office in 2005, he accepted the power inherent in that office; since this power is not inherent in the person who occupies the office, in order to safeguard the Church and the Papal Office, it was necessary for him to retain the office itself.

    In formally declining the use of two of the Papal Powers, he simply made official the reality of his position, namely, that due to the diabolical network–the “wolves”–he was stymied, checked, hindered, resisted, opposed, etc…at every turn to use rightly, that is “rightly administer”, the Petrine Powers of teaching and governing as Christ would have them used. His right to choose NOT to use those powers does NOT make them available for someone else to use; even if that someone happens to be elected in an unnecessary Conclave. As the one and only Pope, he alone can use or NOT use the Papal Office. He merely and officially announced to the world his lived reality in regards to being unable to actively and rightly teach and govern.
    It is likely there was fear BUT more than that he acted out of love for Christ’s Mystical Body and all of Its members. Benedict is NOT a coward. He is a hero akin to Frodo Baggins but more importantly akin to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    He knew what he was doing; he announced to us what he was doing. And he had Ganswein remind us and even more plainly tell us what he did. He did not try a modernist splitting of the Petrine Office, rather he made a triumphal, difficult, painful choice to disguise an “abdication” from the use of two powers in such a way so as to make the enemies of the Church think they are in charge, but in reality he has heroically maintained the Papacy and at the same time rendered the liberals ineffective thereby protecting Holy Mother Church’s indefectibility and the infallibility of the Petrine Office all the while they ALL arrogantly reveal themselves for all to see.

    You were gracious to respond to my last two comments which primarily focused on the way that the prophecies of Fatima, LaSalette, and Akita pertain to the honest and responsible assessment of the factual evidence presented in the contents of the thesis. At that time you also noted that this thesis refutes the two hypotheses that you yourself have taken pains to refute.

    Perhaps you would agree that your comments in red in your article are speculative. In light of Benedict’s actual words closely examined in the thesis which I summarized in this comment, it seems to me that your red comments speculate not only about Benedict’s intentions but you also speculatively put words into Benedict’s mouth in order to maintain your hypothesis that Francis is Pope.

    You admit to being confused by Benedict’s bestowing his Apostolic Blessing. Perhaps reading the full thesis may relieve your confusion and allow you to better gather the “Novissimi”. For Benedict’s sake, the sake of Holy Mother Church, and the sake of the world we need to be gathered.


    1. Thanks for your comments. However, respectfully, I must disagree with your analysis. On its face, it makes no sense to suggest that the saintly Benedict, the father of all christians – as pope, would disguise his abdication. First, there is not rational purpose to justify this action. Second, think of all the Catholics he threw into the hands into the “wolves” if he had intended this. If he had meant some great purpose from this, some trap – surely he would have sprung it long before now. Instead, we have, in his latest letters to Branmuller, mere squabbling which defends his decision to resign. No,

      I suspect I fully agree with your concerns over this current pontificate. However, *if* Francis is an anti-pope, it is most definitely NOT because Benedict is pope.




      1. Actually, Mr. O’Reilly, the rational purpose to justify this action is the Common Good. Thank you for letting me comment and explain.

        You see, Benedict could have continued the “exercise” of the Papal Office and put more effort into “cleaning house” thereby daring the perverts to martyr him, which would have satisfied many, but he didn’t. Moreover, doing what the evidence indicates he has in fact done he placed his life in danger by the fact of having kept the Papal Office with his Renunciation.

        This strange Renunciation ,however, was an an act of dissimulating a real resignation, something that apparently looked like he was “creating a Diarchy”, which along with his contemplative life (i.e., avoiding the press and “not” talking too much) satisfied the modernists who promote the theology of “Diarchy”, while at the same time, unfortunately, it left everyone else thinking he was actually resigning. No doubt, Mr. O’Reilly those are all the Catholics you say “he threw into the hands of the ‘wolves'”.

        You would agree that a legitimate act of dissimulation can be used under certain circumstances as when a Priest hearing Confessions, for example, outside at a portable Confessional–where Priest and penitent can be observed by the crowd–the Priest will make the sign of the cross and maybe even move his lips while uttering a blessing, as if to make it look like absolution, when due to whatever reason he cannot give absolution to the penitent.

        Furthermore, by the fact that Benedict maintained the Petrine Office and kept it from those involved with heresy and/or apostasy, he was in fact acting for a “Common Good” (something that can be shared by many without being diminished), namely, the Common Good of the Church, the Glory of God and the Salvation of Souls–which is the Divine purpose of the Church, really the greatest Common Good on Earth.

        On the other hand if he had chosen to exert his already weakened, indeed quite limited, authority and was eventually found dead in bed or through some “accident” he could have had himself applauded as a martyr, which choice is only a personal good. But the Common Good is always greater, more important than a personal good, except when the Common Good actually depends in some way on a particular personal good.

        I don’t think there is a trap that Benedict is waiting to spring. Rather, he is waiting for faithful Catholics and most especially the small number of faithful Bishops to recognize what the evidence indicates he did and say, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

        That your interpretation and speculation regarding the Branmuller letters defend your hypothesis does not make your hypothesis true.

        For me it’s really sad that people today are so blind, or so ignorant, that they cannot understand what Benedict was doing. And since his life is still in danger if……, being that he “feels safe” living in the Vatican, he CANNOT be considered a coward, and in deed, he is a hero.

        Mr. O’Reilly, as an alumnus of the University of Dallas, do you know scholars who would examine the merits or lack thereof of the thesis?


      2. Thanks for your comment. I just do not agree it makes sense to think Benedict XVI gave up the papacy in only appearances. The theory simply does not make any rational sense. If he was attempting to protect the Church – he could best have done this by remaining pope. The theory is absurd on its face.


      3. Thank you for your response. As I explained, the rational sense is “The Common Good”.

        What other “absurd” theories in history have been proven true but were initially debunked without being closely examined because peer-respected experts opined they were absurd and thus didn’t merit a closer look?

        What harm is done by a closer examination of the evidential facts of Benedict’s precisely translated words along with his deeds and Authentic Church prophecy? None.

        Yet, the benefit yielded may be GREAT especially since the elapsed time of Benedict acting for the Common Good has allowed sufficient grace for the long-existing schism to be made enormously manifest.

        BiP allows Catholics to ignore Bergoglio and Crew (who are heretics at best and apostates at worst) and get on with what Our Lady requested at Fatima precisely AS she requested it: the Holy Father in union with Faithful Bishops worldwide to consecrate RUSSIA to her Immaculate Heart. Then ALL heaven breaks loose.

        It is simple, but not easy. All I can do is “cry out in the wilderness” of the internet, and Mr. O’Reilly, at this time you are one with that wilderness.


      4. Thanks for your response, “Islam”. There is never harm in examining evidence of Benedict’s resignation.

        But, I think that is precisely what I have done over the course of several articles on this blog. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence, substantial or otherwise, that calls any of the analysis in the aforementioned articles into question. I recognize many – myself included – are very concerned about the course of the Bergoglio papacy, but that is not a ‘proof.’ As I said in one of the articles, the arguments of some seem to be of a fallacious argumentum ad consequentiam variety. I would say this. If we were to posit hypothetically that Francis is an anti-pope and that we had this knowledge alone, the evidence would still be clear that his anti-papacy is NOT and could not be the result of Benedict still being pope – that is how unreasonable and contrary to facts, reason and common sense the BiP (“Benedict is Pope”) theory is.

        If there be a real argument that Francis is an anti-pope: the BiP theory is absolutely the wrong tree to bark up. It is an utter waste of time and effort. If there is a valid case to be made for a Bergoglio anti-papacy, it seems to me the topics to research would be the Saint Gallen mafia efforts related to the 2013 conclave and Bergoglio’s candidacy, and or the question of a dispensation from Jesuit vows (I’ve written a few articles on this).

        I take no delight in debunking the BiP theory. I just believe it is actually harmful. If, for example, Francis were to pass away before Benedict, then all the BiPers will – by force of logical necessity – deny the results of the next conclave, regardless of how good a pope it produces. Instead BiPers will be faced with a new pope they reject, and and an old pope (Benedict) who rejects them (i.e., BiPers), and their efforts on his behalf. Comical perhaps. Tragic…certainly.

        Regards, Steve.


      5. Dear Mr. O, I have a greater understanding now than ever before why only the shepherds made it to Our Lord’s crib, others greater than they would not have been able to ‘see’ what was before them. To paraphrase, “None is so blind as one who already has ALL the answers.” At this time, I’ll go “cry in the wilderness” somewhere else. Blessings on you and yours.


      6. Thanks again for responding. I am certainly not infallible. I have taken an honest look at the evidence of those who suggest Benedict is still pope. I wish he were…but wishing does not make it so. We do not live in a land of make-believe. I’ve looked at the claims and the arguments for the BiP theory, and I’ve looked at the original documents. My honest take and conclusion – given in my articles – is the theory is nonsense and dangerous.

        Thanks again for reading the article and for your responses. God bless.



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