August 2, 2020 (Steven O’Reilly) – Over two months have passed since Dr. Mazza first appeared on Dr. Taylor Marshall’s popular YouTube podcast (see here) to explain the “Mazza Hypothesis.” In Dr. Mazza’s view, Pope Benedict XVI in his resignation intended and succeeded in splitting the Primacy of Peter from the See of Rome. Thus, Benedict, according to the “Mazza hypothesis,” remains the Successor Peter, the Vicar of Christ; while Francis is the true bishop of Rome.
Over the last couple months, Dr. Mazza has gone on to further explicate his theory on another episode of Dr. Marshall’s podcast (see here), as well as on a number of Ann Barnhardt podcasts (episodes 112, 113 and 115), her blog, as well as his own blog (see here). Dr. Mazza reiterates his argument in a recent article on his blog (EdmundMazza.com), wherein he asserts:
“My own examination of the data led me to the rather daring hypothesis that perhaps Benedict used his plenitudine potestas to separate the role of Vicar of Christ from Bishop of Rome!”
As noted, over two months have gone by since he first surfaced his hypothesis. However, the same amount of time has passed without Dr. Mazza replying to my rebuttals of his theory (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Addendum). Granted, he may not have seen them as Roma Locuta Est is but a wee, humble blog. But I did attempt to reach him via Ann Barnhardt, Mark Docherty, and via the contact/comment form on his blog. All to no avail.
Given his theory has apparently attracted the attention of Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli (see here), I thought I’d return briefly to the subject of the “Mazza hypothesis.” I am most interested in seeing Dr. Mazza’s reply to Addendum: Normas Nonnullas explodes Dr. Mazza’s BiP theory — if he is able, as I think the article gets to the heart of why his hypothesis, and BiP, in general, fail as theories.
Briefly, after Pope Benedict XVI announced his renunciation in his Declaratio (February 11, 2013) but before the actual effective date of it (February 28, 2013), he modified the then existing rules for conclaves (Universi Dominici Gregis) in specific anticipation of the upcoming conclave his renunciation necessitated. He made these changes on February 22, 2013 in an Apostolic Letter (motu proprio), Normas Nonnullas.
Thus, the changes set forward in Normas Nonnullas, taken together with what is left unchanged in UDG for the coming conclave, should give us insight into what Benedict understood and intended regarding his renunciation, as well as the authority of his successor to soon be elected. 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]
What ought to be clear in a common sense reading of the passages above is that Benedict understood and intended the then coming conclave would elect a man who is “immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome, true Pope and Head of the College of Bishops” and “he thus acquires and can exercise full and supreme power over the universal Church.” The preceding verbiage from UDG 88, e.g., “full and supreme power over the universal Church,” certainly refers to the Petrine primacy (cf Pastor Aeturnus 4, 2).
Therefore, it is clear as day that Benedict understood and intended that the conclave would elect a man who is, at the same time Bishop of Rome, and the Vicar of Christ. That this is what he must have intended and understood is clear from what he modified and what he left intact in the conclave rules. Benedict understood and intended that the upcoming conclave — necessitated by his renunciation — would elect a true successor, who would be the Vicar of Christ and bishop of Rome. This, in itself, demonstrates Dr. Mazza’s theory fails.
Had Benedict intended what Dr. Mazza suggests, theoretically, he could have changed the wording of UDG 88. If Benedict intended something like Dr. Mazza suggests, he would have changed the wording of UDG 88. If Benedict intended something like Dr. Mazza suggests, he should have changed the wording of UDG 88. Yet, while Benedict made some changes to UDG, he made none that are either consistent with or which are supportive of Dr. Mazza’s theory.
The unavoidable fact is, though Benedict did modify UDG via Normas Nonnullas, he left UDG 88 untouched. Incredibly–but not surprisingly, Dr. Mazza’s “daring” hypothesis fails to account for Normas Nonnullas, indeed it fails to address it at all. I don’t know the reason why he does not even acknowledge Normas Nonnullas. What I do know for certain is, is that Dr. Mazza’s “daring” hypothesis has not yet “dared” to address Normas Nonnullas. I do know Normas Nonnullas is utterly incompatible with Dr. Mazza’s theory. In sum, Dr. Mazza’s hypothesis – “daring” or not – fails miserably.
Perhaps readers can ask him, or Ann Barnhardt, or Mark Docherty — or to ask Dr. Marshall to ask Dr. Mazza — next time Dr. Mazza appears on their podcasts or blogs, to explain how Normas Nonnullas is consistent with the ‘Mazza hypothesis’?”
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 the author of 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 may be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com or, securely, at StevenOReilly@Protonmail.com. Or, follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on Parler: @StevenOReilly.
(1) “…What is more, with the approval of the second Council of Lyons, the Greeks made the following profession: “The Holy Roman Church possesses the supreme and full primacy and principality over the whole Catholic Church. She truly and humbly acknowledges that she received this from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince and chief of the apostles, whose successor the Roman Pontiff is, together with the fullness of power. And since before all others she has the duty of defending the truth of the faith, so if any questions arise concerning the faith, it is by her judgment that they must be settled.”
“Then there is the definition of the Council of Florence: “The Roman Pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole Church.” (Vatican I, Pastor Aeturnus, 4, 2)