June 10, 2020 (Steven O’Reilly) – Dr. Mazza again appeared on Dr. Marshall’s youtube program to discuss his Benedict is Pope thesis. It is unfortunate that Dr. Mazza did not address any of the main points made in my three-part rebuttal of his thesis (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). However, having watching Dr. Mazza again, I wanted to expand on one of my arguments made in Part 1 of my rebutal.
As always, I recommend the reader listen to the other side’s arguments, in this case Dr. Mazza’s. His most recent exposition of his thesis may be found in Dr. Taylor Marshall’s most recent Youtube program (see here). In Part 1 of my rebuttal, for the purpose of addressing Dr. Mazza’s thesis, I agreed arguendo to accept his premise the Petrine primacy could be separated from the See of Rome. I did so because it can be readily proved Benedict did not intend such a separation.
Let us proceed now directly to the point. Neither Dr. Mazza nor any BiP proponent have ever addressed Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio (Normas Nonnullas). This document made a number of changes to the rules governing papal conclaves promulgated by John Paul II in Universi Dominici Gregis. These changes were made after Benedict announced his Declaratio (February 10, 2013), and thus go directly to the question of Pope Benedict’s intent for and understanding of the papal office.
The punchline from Benedict’s renunciation declaration (Declaratio):
….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 (Summum Pontificem) will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is…. (Declaratio, Pope Benedict XVI, February 10, 2013)
Note, I have taken the liberty of inserting as a parenthetical the Latin for “Supreme Pontiff” above, i.e., “Summum Pontificem.” I have previously addressed Dr. Mazza’s effort to dance around this term in Part 1, and will not bother commenting in great detail on his continued efforts to do so on Dr. Marshall’s program other than to say the following. Benedict’s use of the term “Supreme Pontiff” in the Declaratio, as it is in fact mentioned in relation to a conclave to be called, has specific reference to the use of “Supreme Pontiff” as understood in existing papal conclave legislation, e.g., Universi Dominici Gregis (see UDG 87). It is absurd to suggest it has any other meaning in the Declaratio, or any meaning that excludes the sense as found in UDG.
“Summum Pontificem” is the title used for the office for which the College of Cardinals assemble to elect a successor to St. Peter (cf UDG 87). It is, by name, the office regarding which the one elected is asked the following question in Latin: “Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem?” (Normas Nonnullas [NN] re Universi Dominici Gregis 87). In English this may be rendered “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?” Any discussion that avoids the fact the Declaratio’s use of “Summum Pontificem” has direct, unequivocal, and specific ecclesiastical and theological reference to the papal office and papal elections (see UDG and NN) is an unfortunate exercise in muddying the waters.
Let us recall the timeline with regard to Benedict’s last official documents.
- On February 10, 2013, Benedict XVI announces he will renounce the papacy effective February 28, 2013 at 8pm, See of Rome time (cf Declaratio). Pope Benedict XVI explicitly states in his Declaratio that he has resigned in such a way that the See of Peter is “vacant,” thus no more Bishop of Rome sitting upon it, and that a conclave is to be convoked to elect a “new Supreme Pontiff.”
- Subsequently, on February 22, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI made modifications to the conclave rules set down by John Paul II. Benedict does so by promulgating an Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, entitled Normas Nonnullas. This document amends/modifies some of the provisions for papal conclaves issued by John Paul II in Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG). These changes were made in view of the upcoming conclave following Benedict’s renunciation of the papacy.
Among the conclave modifications made by Pope Benedict XVI in Normas Nonnullas was a change to UDG 87. Of particular note, having changed UDG 87, Benedict made no change at all to UDG 88. These two paragraphs — the updated UDG 87 and untouched UDG 88 — read together as follows (emphasis added):
87. “When the election has canonically taken place, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the hall of election the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations and two Masters of Ceremonies. Then the Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff? And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: By what name do you wish to be called? Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses the two Masters of Ceremonies, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him.” [NB: as amended by Benedict XVI in Normas Nonnullas, February 22, 2013]
88 . After his acceptance, the person elected, if he has already received episcopal ordination, is immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops. He thus acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church.
If the person elected is not already a Bishop, he shall immediately be ordained Bishop. [NB: as promulgated by John Paul II in UDG, and left untouched by Benedict XVI in Normas Nonnullas]
Reading these two paragraphs together we readily see what Benedict intended and how he viewed the papal office. Specifically, we see what it portends for Dr. Mazza’s and the general BiP thesis regarding Benedict’s renunciation, as well as his view of the relation of the Petrine primacy to the See of Rome following the Declaratio.
Remember, Benedict promulgated his changes to UDG in Normas Nonnullas after the Declaratio and in anticipation of the coming conclave indicated in the Declaratio to elect a “new Supreme Pontiff.” Benedict had the opportunity to change or leave in place whatever conclave rules he wished. Therefore, both the changed portions (e.g., UDG 87, Normas Nonnullas) and unchanged portions of UDG (e.g., UDG 88) represent Benedict’s official thoughts and teaching on the election of his successor, the “new Supreme Pontiff,” and the papal office in so far as UDG and Normas Nonnullas touch upon them.
Benedict’s motu proprio in conjunction with UDG make clear the one accepting his election as “Supreme Pontiff,” if already a bishop, “is immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops” and thus “acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church.” Thus, Benedict’s successor is both the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff; having full and supreme power over the universal Church.
These declarations are devastating to Dr. Mazza’s thesis, as well as to the general BiP thesis. Benedict issued Normas Nonnullas after the Declaratio and in anticipation of the approaching conclave in March 2013; thus Benedict’s intent and understanding is abundantly clear. First, Benedict intended a conclave and election of a “new Supreme Pontiff,” i.e., the election of his successor, because he knew he would no longer be the Supreme Pontiff as of 8pm (See of Rome time), February 28, 2013. Second, Benedict understood the coming new Supreme Pontiff, having accepted his election, is immediately the Bishop of Rome, and thus has full and supreme power over the universal Church. Thus, contrary to Dr. Mazza’s assertion, Benedict did not intend to separate the Petrine primacy from the See of Rome — even if we assume arguendo this is possible.
Furthermore, it is clear from the Latin of the text that the “Supreme Pontiff” and “Bishop of the Church of Rome” in the above documents are the same man — the one and the same man; thereby excluding any sort of sharing of office or diarchy as BiP theories imagine to be Benedict’s intent. Such imaginings might be found in the blogs and podcasts of some, but they had no place in Benedict’s documents or thought. Had Benedict intended any one of these BiP options he certainly had the opportunity to change UDG via Normas Nonnullas. However, no such changes were made. Dr. Mazza’s theory, and BiP, cannot be reconciled with them.
Perhaps someone will ask Dr. Mazza and the BiP theorists, the following. If their theories are true:
why would Benedict — in anticipation of the coming conclave of March 2013 to elect the “new Supreme Pontiff” foreseen in the Declaratio — make no substantial modifications to UDG via Normas Nonnullas that are consistent with their theories?
why does Benedict, although modifying UDG 87, leave UDG 88 alone and fully in force; thus demonstrating he understood the “new Supreme Pontiff” upon accepting his election “is immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops” and thus “acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church?” Please explain how this is reconcilable with the view Benedict intended to separate the Petrine primacy from the See of Rome, or had intended any sort of papal diarchy — or a shared papacy?
Roma Locuta Est is a wee, humble blog that goes unnoticed by much of the world around it. That may certainly explain why approximately two weeks into his theory Dr. Mazza has not addressed the specific rebuttals herein. Br. Bugnolo did the kindness of providing a response (see here), though I disagree with his BiP arguments — and certainly disagree with his final personal observations regarding me:
“At this point I think everyone has the right to either ignore him as intellectually dishonest or ask him his personal reasons for embracing with such lack of personal integrity Bergoglio as his pope?“
I leave it to the reader to judge my intellectual honesty and personal integrity. However, for the Catholic coming only recently to the pages of Roma Locuta Est, and who is otherwise unfamiliar with my position on Benedict and Francis, I will address Br. Bugnolo’s question regarding my ’embrace’ — in his view — of ‘Bergoglio as my pope.’ As to Br. Bugnolo’s comment regarding my personal view of Pope Francis…I have stated my view many times by now, I believe. My view is generally as follows.
I believe we should accept Pope Francis as pope because by all outward appearance of law, procedure, etc., he is duly elected by the rules governing such a thing. We should accept him as pope unless and until (1) given a reason based on sufficient evidence that he is not pope, and (2) this is confirmed by those with sufficient authority to proclaim it so.
The “Benedict is [still] Pope” (BiP) theories fail to meet this criteria. Those who claim “Benedict is still pope” because he was forced to abdicate have not provided any evidence that demonstrates he resigned against his will. If evidence is provided that proves this, I am open to hearing it. With regard to the other BiP theories, I have provided over a dozen articles by now (see Summa Contra BiP) outlining my detailed arguments as to why these theories fail. My recent three-part series of articles rebutting Dr. Mazza’s theories are just the latest (see here, here, and here).
Now, while I am absolutely convinced BiP is certainly erroneous and dangerous, I have voiced my difficulties with many other things related to Pope Francis. For example, I have written detailed arguments opposing various interpretations of Amoris Laetitia. See the Summa Contra Stephen Walford, and various articles against blogs like Where Peter Is (e.g., here). I also voiced my support for the Open Letter which accused Pope Francis of the delict of heresy (see here). I was the one who highlighted difficulties with regard to Francis having provided a preface to Stephen Walford’s book, and suggested it might be additional evidence for the heresy charges against Francis (see Pope Francis, the Open Letter and the Pesky Preface). I’ve commented on Francis’ recent Scalfari interview and the question of heresy it raises (see Why blame Scalfari?).
That is but a sampling of what I’ve written on issues related to heresies. I have also written a number of articles investigating questions that might touch upon the validity of Francis’ election, e.g., writing on his Jesuit vows (see Curiouser and Curiouser: Who Dispensed Jorge Bergoglio SJ from his vows?), articles on McCarrick’s “influential Italian gentleman” and the possible UDG violation there (e.g., here), and other UDG violations (see here), and much more. On top of all the above, I’ve also called for some sort of imperfect council several times to address all these questions, and the evidence for them, as well as to collect more evidence (e.g., here).
Thus, I don’t believe it can be fairly said I “embrace” Pope Francis. As I’ve noted before, confusion certainly abounds. However, it is not for us — as the laity — to determine or declare what are the definitive answers to these questions. By all outward form and procedure, Francis is pope. If he is not pope, that determination must come from an (unlikely) imperfect council (e.g., here, here, and here), or what is more probable, a future pope. I certainly don’t exclude that possibility. In the meantime, know your faith, keep it, and ‘always pray and never give up’ (cf Luke 18: 1) – especially in dark times, and do not worry – because it is the Lord who has promised the Church “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Victory is assured.
That is my view, and the reasons for it.
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 StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA)