Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope)

February 11, 2019 (Steven O’Reilly) – [Updated 5/31/2022] Pope Benedict XVI resigned seven years ago today. It was unfortunate that he did so as it has given us the last seven years of Pope Francis. Over the course of these seven years, Francis has sowed division and confusion in the Catholic Church in a variety of ways.

Roma Locuta Est shares the concerns of the many faithful Catholics around the world regarding the course of this pontificate. Perplexity and confusion over the words and acts of Pope Francis have led many to wonder what is really going on. Was the 2013 conclave valid? Is Francis an anti-pope? Is Benedict still pope instead?

These are confusing times. Catholics are operating in something of a “fog of war,” and trying and praying hard to understand what is going on in Rome. Personally, I cannot fault folks for going down certain paths in the midst of this “fog.” Still, I think it important to critically examine theories that might be offered as an explanation of the Francis pontificate. Based on available evidence — which, obviously, is all we have to go on — it would be rash in my opinion for an individual to definitively declare and act upon the belief that “Benedict is Pope.” Given this anniversary of Benedict’s resignation, I thought it an opportune to collect in one place all my articles rebutting the “Benedict is Pope” theory (NB: “BiP” coined in 2017) in one place.

  1. Thoughts on Free Will and Hypothetical Papal Plots (July 23, 2017)
  2. Benedict is NOT Pope (September 4, 2017)
  3. Benedict is STILL not Pope (September 14, 2017)
  4. A Filial Correction of those who believe Benedict is still Pope? (September 25, 2017)
  5. Benedict is really, really still not pope! Really! (September 22, 2018)
  6. Against the Arguments that Claim Benedict XVI is STILL Pope (November 25, 2018)
  7. Benedict is Still Pope and Other Errors (January 15, 2019)
  8. The Testimony of a former Benevacantist (A Letter from a Reader of RLE: May 3, 2019)
  9. Did Pope Benedict XVI resign because of threats? No. (July 9, 2019)
  10. Yet again…Benedict is still, really not pope (May 7, 2020)
  11. A Response to Dr. Mazza’s BiP Theory Discussion with Dr. Taylor Marshall – Part 1 (May 29, 2020)
  12. A Response to Dr. Mazza’s BiP Theory Discussion with Dr. Taylor Marshall – Part 2 (May 30, 2020)
  13. A Response to Dr. Mazza’s BiP Theory Discussion with Dr. Taylor Marshall – Part 3 (May 31, 2020)
  14. Addendum: Normas Nonnullas explodes Dr. Mazza’s BiP theory (June 11, 2020)
  15. Dr. Mazza’s “daring hypothesis” fails miserably (August 2, 2020)
  16. On the 8th Anniversary of the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (February 28, 2021)
  17. Being Wrong: The Ontology of the BiP Argument (April 9, 2021)
  18. Benedict’s Plan “B” from Outer Space (April 12, 2021)
  19. The BiP Theory: Always and Forever whistling Dixie (July 9, 2021)
  20. Benedict’s Plan B from Outer Space – the Sequel (August 3, 2021)
  21. Debating whether Benedict is still pope (February 12, 2022)
  22. Regarding Benedict’s Declaratio (2/21/2022)
  23. Regarding Benedict’s Normas Nonnullas (2/24/2022)
  24. Regarding Benedict’s Last Audience (2/27/2022)
  25. Regarding Benedict’s comments to the Pilgrims from Albano (March 7, 2022)
  26. Regarding Ganswein’s speech (March 19, 2022)
  27. The Case against those who claim “Benedict is (still) pope” (March 21. 2022)
  28. Benepapism and Mr. Coffin’s “Seven Pieces of Information Francis is an anti-pope”(March 30, 2022)
  29. Regarding the “Ratzinger Code” (April 8, 2022)
  30. A closer look at Mr. Coffin’s evidence: Dr. Mazza’s Thesis 3.0 (April 22, 2022)
  31. A Benepapist Civil War? (May 22, 2022)
  32. Benedict XVI: strategic genius or theological fool? (May 29, 2022)
  33. Ms. Ann Barnhardt vs. the Law of Non-Contradiction: Ms. Barnhardt loses (May 30, 2022)

An Overview of Summa Contra BiP

No real evidence has been provided to demonstrate that Benedict resigned under pressure, so any theory dependent on this premise is suspect. The main BiP argument is based on the belief that Benedict resignation letter was flawed, or that he had a deficient intent based on Benedict supposedly believing he could split the papacy into “active” and “passive” parts.

To sum up the case against the latter BiP theory…We must remember that Benedict had signaled a possible resignation before he actually issued his resignation letter. Next, Benedict’s resignation letter is valid. There is no precise or prescribed formula for a papal resignation and. regardless, he stated in the letter the “See of Peter” would be vacant on the day in question (NB: a point made several places in the articles above). This made Benedict’s intention to resign the papacy clear. Regarding Benedict’s final audience…this, in my opinion, has been grossly misunderstood by many. His words which could easily be understood in a more natural sense and context and in an innocent light, are instead read by BiPpers through a BiP prism which only allows Benedict’s words to be read in a contorted sense fitting the BiP theory (see #2 and particularly #3 above). Moving on, in letters to Cardinal Brandmuller, Benedict refers to himself as a “former pope.”

Some BiPpers have attempted to suggest that Benedict before he was pope had edited some papers for a theological review that may have incorporated bizarre views of the papacy, and this somehow shows Ratzinger moved among some who might have viewed a papal diarchy, or some such thing, possible. However, based on the evidence that these BiPpers have thus far provided, we can say (see #7 above) that these assertions are (1) without any substantial foundation in fact and (2) an unfair reading of Joseph Ratzinger’s words that incorrectly attributes to him the theories of others. Further, it is hard to imagine that Benedict, being the theologian he was, would have resigned in the novel way imagined by BiPpers without first teaching and explaining as pope the licitness of this possibility before doing so. As to how Benedict dresses now (i.e., in papal white), and how he is addressed (e.g., “your holiness”)…yes…this is all unfortunate. However, all these things do not in themselves make him pope.

As far as Ganswein’s speech–on which BiPpers have placed great emphasis, I would say what I did in article #6 (though I touch upon Ganswein in the other articles as well). It must be remembered Archbishop Ganswein’s now controversial speech was given “at the presentation of a new book by Roberto Regoli entitled Beyond the Crisis of the Church — The Pontificate of Benedict XVI” (see here). On such an occasion (i.e., the release of a book on Benedict’s now completed pontificate), it is not unexpected that flowery or something of panegyrical language, as well as the praise and compliments heaped upon Benedict might be over the top. If Ganswein might be criticized now for unguarded panegyrical praise of Benedict, he might be forgiven for being taken quite so literally on such an occasion. But, for those who want to interpret Ganswein’s talk of an “expanded ministry” literally, how then do these same folks interpret Ganswein who says of the book’s author (Roberto Regoli) at the end of the same address: “Thus, this book once again throws a consoling gaze on the peaceful imperturbability and serenity of Benedict XVI, at the helm of the barque of Peter in the dramatic years 2005-2013. At the same time, however, through this illuminating account, Regoli himself now also takes part in the munus Petri.  Where are our “Benedict is Pope” interpreters on this? Is Ganswein speaking literally or figuratively of Regoli taking “part in the munus Petri?” What they might say, they must say it…but it is clear to me that Ganswein is speaking figuratively of Regoli, obviously, and it was in this same sense Ganswein spoke in the same speech of Benedict’s post-resignation role. In sum, BiP does not work. It fails as a theory.

However, none of the above is meant as an “attack” on anyone who holds the BiP theory–neither specifically nor generally. I fully sympathize with the Francis-angst which might dispose one to accept something like the BiP theory to explain the theological questions posed by a Francis pontificate. Indeed, there are questions about the election of Francis and Francis himself that need some answers. Pope Francis’s writings (e.g., Amoris Laetitia, the Abu Dhabi statement), his interviews with Eugenio Scalari (e.g., discussed in Why blame Scalfari?), etc., raise significant questions. The Open Letter penned last year by 19 scholars outlined over a half dozen potential heresies that should be examined by cardinals and bishops. On this blog we’ve supported the idea of an imperfect council on several occasions (e.g., herehere, and here)] to examine these questions.

An imperfect council should look into the issues raised by the Open Letter, the Scalfari interviews, the Abu Dhabi statement, etc., and yes — the questions surrounding the 2013 conclave. Areas of examination might include the role of the St. Gallen mafia (see 2013 Conclave: Was there a violation of Universi Dominici Gregis 12?), and potential outside influence on the conclave (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”; The Conclave Chronicles), and questions around Cardinal Bergoglio’s acceptance of his election (see Curiouser and Curiouser: Who Dispensed Jorge Bergoglio SJ from his vows? and A Discussion of Cardinal Bergoglio’s Jesuit Vows and the 2013 Conclave).

Certainly, such a council should look into issues surrounding Benedict’s resignation. But here I have in mind the reason for it, and whether there was a plot to influence Benedict in some way so that he resigned, i.e., to finesse him out the door. I do reject the theory that suggests Benedict’s resignation was flawed due to its wording or due to a supposed error Benedict held regarding a papal diarchy. There is no reason or evidence – certainly not any known to us – that should lead one to reject the validity of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.  The burden of proof is on those who claim Benedict is still pope (and thereby making Francis an anti-pope for this reason). It is abundantly clear they have simply not met that burden.

In sum, I think it’s best for all of us to await the judgement of the Church, and not declare something so definitively that we have neither the authority nor evidence. In the meantime, I’d suggest maintaining the course of “recognize and resist” and when or if some new evidence is discovered….to “re-evaluate.”

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former intelligence officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is author of the recently published Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms. (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA)


  1. 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.

15 thoughts on “Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope)

  1. “DOGMATIC FACTS. A dogmatic fact is one that has not been revealed, yet is so intimately connected with a doctrine of faith that without certain knowledge of the fact there can be no certain knowledge of the doctrine. For example, was the [First] Vatican Council truly ecumenical? Was Pius IX a legitimate pope? Was the election of Pius XI valid? Such questions must be decided with certainty before decrees issued by any council or pope can be accepted as infallibly true or binding on the Church. It is evident, then, that the Church must be infallible in judging of such facts, and since the Church is infallible in believing as well as in teaching, it follows that the practically unanimous consent of the bishops and faithful in accepting a council as ecumenical, or a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact.” (The Church of Christ, pp. 288, 289, 290)

    Ann Barnhardt is the charismatic leader of The Occult Cut which resumes to know the intent and motivations of Father Benedict better than the former Pope himself knows. She is always being cited as an authority on Canon Law even though she never studied Canon Law, took a degree in Canin Law or practiced Canon Law.

    One who has done all three os those things, Dr. Peters, says thei claims are absurd. O, and Fr Benedict says the same thing.

    The funniest part of this absurd situation is that every singe one of the BISPers were part of the practically unanimous consent of the bishop and faithful that rendered the election of Francis an infallible fact but now, like John Kerry who was for something before he was against it, they are now against the fact that Francis is Pope after having for months been part of the Francis is Pope crowd.

    One hopes that members of The Occult Cult get to wear funny uniforms and hats but not be permitted to handle explosives


    1. Vermont…thanks for the comments.

      All the BISPers (aka BiPpers), it seems to me, were set on the road to their position by a concern we all share: something is amiss with the pontificate of Francis. There are deep theological questions and dilemmas that need to be resolved, related to the conclave, his acceptance of the papacy, and his actions/inaction, words/silences as Pope. Serious accusations of heresy have been leveled at him. So many Catholics are understandably asking….was Francis ever pope, or was he pope and fell, or something else?

      So, I think we should sympathize with the confusion that led to development of the BiP theory. If I were to fault BISPers, it would be on the grounds that many I’ve come across are overly dogmatic about it given the paucity of evidence.

      The “recognize” and “resist”…and I’d add “and re-evaluate” approach makes more sense. Know your faith. Keep the faith. Stand up for the faith. Either an Imperfect Council, or a future pope will settle the disputed question one day. For now, the greater danger, I think, is in over committing to one theory, especially absent the authority or evidence to do so.

      Thanks again for the comments.



  2. Dear Mr. O’Reilly. I think the Occult Cult is possessed of a shared delusion and delusions are not correctable by reason or logic.

    They seem scandalised by the progressive praxis and prose our Our Pope and Our Cross because he has increased the speed and intensified the methods of the already existing shift away from Tradition that began with Pope John XXIII; a shift away from Theocentrism and towards Anthropocentrism.

    One can express sympathy for them to be sure but if they are to be granted latitude in their claims and calls for investigations, what about the far more numerous members of the sedevacantist clans? Do they also have legitimate standing to demand their claims be adjudicated in a Canonical Court?

    The essential problem with the Occult Cult is its rejection of the infallible dogmatic fact of the election of Francis and which election rendered moot any and all possible objections to his papacy the Cult currently traffics in.

    Ann Barnhardt is the charismatic leader of The Occult Cult and even up to this minute she is sinking in the quicksand of This-is-thermonuclear-proof-that-Benedict-is-really-pope-because-man-A-told-man-B-that-man-C told-man-B-that-man-D-assured-him-that…

    The ineluctable fact having to do with the Occult Cult is that any evidence produced will be automatically gainsaid because the members of the cult are diabolically delusional. Give Satan his due, he is always striving to peel men away from the Catholic Church and the Occult Cult is populated by a certain kind of man who refuses to accept infallible dogmatic facts.

    It is important you understand this if you do not want to end up tearing your hair out with exasperation after having provided so many reasonable and logical responses to their ever metastasizing “Proofs that Benedict is still Pope.”

    That have a protestant private judgment mentality and they refuse The Roman Catholic Church the authority it is possessed of to declare Francis Pope and no amount of reason or logic will change their collective mind. Said otherwise, it is they who are no longer Catholic, not the Church.

    They are in way too deep in the spiritual quicksand for any oxygen to get to whatever humility they may have once had.

    Who can imagine Ann Barnhardt, after so many months of doing what she has been doing, to suddenly spiritually surrender and admit she has been mistaken and that The Catholic Church is right to have accepted Francis as Pope?

    She has a history of radical claims and demands- that one was not a good christian if he did not join her tax revolt and stop paying taxes (The IRS took her possessions) and she said that any man who objected to usury was anti semitic and she continues to call for armed revolution in America while calling a billion Muslims, Musloids, and calling for the destruction of Islam – not for conversions, for destruction.

    The advice offered by Saint Vincent of Lerins in Commonitory is useful for us Catholics. He teaches us that God permits prelates to try and impose novelties as the way God tests us to see if we love Him. During these times of testing, we must remain faithful to the Original Deposit of Faith and Tradition.

    Those who are safe and sane during these times of testing are those who possess the Peace of Christ and trust that He has always been, still is, and will always be the head of His Church.

    Sadly, the Occult Cult does not trust in Jesus Christ or His promises. It thinks the Church has accepted a fake Pope which means that Jesus is the biggest who has ever lived, who broke His promises, and is only worthy of trust if He agrees with the Occult Cult.


    1. Vermont, thanks for the comments.

      I am not familiar with some of the allegations you make about AB. In any event, I prefer to stick to the specific arguments made by her and others regarding BXVI.

      On that score, it does seem to me that many BISPers are so dogmatically attached to the theory that no information or proof will detach them from it. I said ‘many’…but certainly not all, as a letter from a former BISPer, published along in the Summa Contra BiP testifies. So, there is hope.

      But certainly as you say…I think we are being tested.

      Thanks for reading the blog.




  3. Steve: I think that Bishop Schneider, a prelate known for his orthodoxy, love of tradition, and personal holiness, genuinely believed that his recent letter on the true pope would begin to heal some of the petty infighting among faithful, traditional Catholics. Sadly, it appears that the BiP promoters and adherents have dug in their heels even deeper. I was appalled by some of the comments made about him, even insinuating that he is as bad as PF. This is shameful and does not help their cause. It would be even sadder if this became a “litmus test” for traditional Catholics, where a priest is deemed good or not based on whose name he uses in the Canon.


    1. Thanks for the comments, DC. Given the inability to “do” anything about Francis, it is sad that some Catholics are turning on other fellow Catholic with whom they share much common ground.

      It is one thing to hold BiP as a theory or *potential* explanation of PF’s pontificate and yet deferring a definitive ruling to a future pope or council (imperfect or not); but it quite another in my opinion to hold to it as if BiP metaphysically certain. Doing the later has set a good number of BiPPers down a road from which it will be hard to backtrack.




  4. You are incorrect to say that there is no evidence that Benedict resigned under duress. I remember those times. The media always attacked the pope as a Nazi, and tried to suggest that he was responsible for the sex abuse scandal. There was Vatileaks. Remember?


    1. Thanks for the comments T.

      A job being difficult, or being criticized in doing your job is not the sort of duress which invalidates a papal resignation.

      One must prove there was there was a connection between any enemies BXVI had, and event that happened. Yes, we know there was a St. Gallen mafia, and they opposed BXVI.

      One must prove, for example, St. Gallen was really behind Vatileaks. BXVI certainly had enemies in the curia since the time of Sodano. Sodano opposed his election, and Sodano supported Bergoglio’s election.

      However, while it is an interesting speculation, we have no evidence Sodano was behind Vatileaks. I do agree he’d definitely be one to pull it off, and have the motivation. However, at the moment, the evidence available to us indicates the “butler did it”. Perhaps there is evidence connecting Sodano and or other associated with him. However, it hasn’t been produced. Maybe some day it will. But until then, we can’t act on speculation only.

      Further, in the Seewald interviews, Benedict says he wasn’t forced out under pressure. In fact we waited to the trial of the butler was completed (Oct/Nov 2012) before acting on his resignation — precisely because he knew he could not resign under pressure.

      Bottom line, yes, there are some interesting speculations of what “might” have happened. But this is not evidence. We need evidence — e.g., people stepping forward to say “Sodano paid me to do X to undermine BXVI”, documents, emails, even Becciu-like phone recordings. Who knows may be all this is “out there”. But until “we” have it…we cannot say this is what happened.




  5. If you could prove evidence it would no longer be evidence b7t proof. Or do you mean proof that the evidence is real?

    Do you at least remember the letter threatening to assassinate him? Could that count as duress?


    1. T, it is quite common for senior public officials to receive death threats. So, no, I don’t view that as evidence he acted under duress.

      In fact, his Declaratio is evidence he did NOT act under duress. He gave his reasons for his resignation — death threats were not listed among them. Are you calling BXVI a liar?

      Further, in his Seewald interviews, he explicitly stated that a pope could not resign under pressure — and that is why he waited for the completion of the Vatileaks affair before resigning. So, again, he has denied acting under duress. Do you call him a liar here?

      So…where is the evidence? All you have is speculation.

      Thanks for the comments.




  6. Evidence deals with probabilities. Proof deals with certainties. So you are factually wrong to say there is no evidence. You mean some people say there is evidence but you find it incredible.

    Benedict not mentioning something doesn’t mean that it is not the case. That is an argument from silence. And so what if he did lie? Popes are not impeccable.

    Notice how the media doesn’t treat Francis the same way?


    1. T,

      to hear a pope gets death threats, and or that there are terrorists in the world who might want to harm him, is not evidence he is *acting* under duress. This is par for the course for high level public officials. Frankly, I’d be more surprised to hear that modern popes do not get threats of various kinds.

      Argument from silence? T, you are the one making the argument from silence!! Benedict has provided direct statements that actually goes to his ‘free’ intent to resign!

      Once again….I repeat them. I provided references to two direct statements from Benedict, one which gives his reasons for resigning – which omit any mention of duress. In fact, in the Declaratio, Benedict **explicitly** says he acted ‘freely’, as required by canon 332.2.

      Further, I’ve pointed you to the Seewald interview where he says he recognizes a pope cannot resign under pressure — and therefore, that is why, he says, he waited till after the Vatileaks trial was over.

      So, the actual available evidence supports my view. You are speculating against the available evidence. In addition, you are in effect calling Benedict a liar.

      Where is your evidence that we should not believe Benedict and that we should believe you? Wishing, hoping, and speculation are not evidence.




  7. If Francis is not the pope, the Church is in trouble. If Francis is the pope, the Church is really in trouble. He contradicts Jesus Himself by asserting that the Church should make friendship with religions and stop making proselytizing (and yes, he means trying to intellectually convince unbelievers of Catholicism, which he calls illicit or a sin against ecumenism) whereas Jesus gave his apostles the mission to convert people. Now, if the pope himself were capable of misleading the faithful instead of confirming his brothers in the faith, the papacy is just an administrative office and the Church was wrong in claiming indefectibility. Since the Catholicism is the true religion, the pope cannot mislead the faithful. So either this teaching is not against the faith or he is not the pope. You must defend the former or accept the latter. Do you defend the former, knowing that God is watching you? Do you say this teaching is in continuity with the faith or a rupture? Is this in line with Vatican II and the hermeneutic of continuity? Can you please remove the doubts in my mind and of all readers? I do not see continuity with the Great Commision. Jesus said He would return whereas Francis seems to be saying we should stop waiting and build the kingdom of God here. I will revise my opinion if you will.


    1. T, thanks for the comments. You are commenting on a thread having to do with the debate as to whether Benedict is still pope. On this question, I believe the evidence is clear: Benedict is no longer pope after February 28th, 2013.

      As regarding Francis, it is also clear this pontificate has been a disaster for the Church. With regard to Francis, I believe odds are, he is probably the pope. I would not be surprised if one day we learn he was not, or is not, or fell from the See at some point.

      Fortunately, that all is above my pay grade. I have looked into the question of the 2013 conclave from various angles. You can read my thoughts on that, here:

      You want my answer as to Francis. It is essentially this. He is a disaster. The worst pope in the Church’s history. Fortunately, he has not taught heresy definitively, thus, the Lord’s promises are not contradicted — nor could they be. My hunch is, the next pope, or the pope after will condemn him in a manner similar to the way Pope St. Leo II ‘condemned’ Honorius. Honorius was guilty of failing to teach; he was guilty of favoring heresy. However, in the case of Francis, the condemnation will be far more serious than even against Honorius.

      My gut says…Francis was part of the 3rd secret, which according to Cardinal Ciappi, speaks of the apostasy in the Church ‘beginning at the top.’ Even Bruno of Tre Fontane had a nightmare about a future pope.

      The Church is being tested. Francis, in my view, is a chastisement. He’s the pope the Church deserves. So, instead of clutching one’s pearls. Have some fortitude and courage. Keep the faith. Pray. This too shall pass.

      God bless,



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