February 28, 2021 (Steven O’Reilly) – Eight years ago today, on February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI resigned the papacy. Since that time as Catholics are generally aware, there have been various controversies and theories about the end of Benedict’s papacy, and the conclave which elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as pope on March 13, 2013.
Given the unique and troubling, and some might say apocalyptic nature of the pontificate of Pope Francis these theories still have some life left in them. It is not hard to understand why many Catholics are concerned about Pope Francis. There is Amoris Laetitia, which to some allows communion for adulterers, contrary to the Church’s perennial teaching (discussed on this blog here: Summa Contra Stephen Walford, Summa Contra the Francis-Apologists). Then there are various controversies such as the Pachamama idol, the Scalfari interviews (see Why blame Scalfari?), and Francis saying ‘God wills all religions’ (see here, and here). This, of course, is only a partial list.
Given these sorts of controversies, and others besides, it is not surprising that many Catholics cast about for an explanation for it all, such as whether Francis is a true pope or not. While not going so far as to say Francis is not a true pope, Aldo Valli recently wrote that while Francis is pope, he is not acting like one (see Rome Without A Pope: Jorge Mario Bergoglio is There, but not Peter, and here). I fully appreciate and understand the questions and concerns many Catholics have about Francis. I share them.
RomaLocutaEst’s research into various conclave issues may be found here (see The Conclave Chronicles). Our research and conclusions on the “Benedict is (still) Pope” — “BiP” as we coined the term — controversy is found in a compilation of articles entitled Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope). Folks can, do, and have disagreed with our conclusions. This blog has tried to take a fair look at the various controversies and theories, and call the “balls and strikes” as we see them. Fairly. Honestly. Thus, an eyebrow was raised when I read the following on another blog this morning (caps in the original, bolding added):
“Pope Benedict’s attempted resignation was canonically invalid.
Pope Benedict XVI himself made this perfectly clear in his “last audience” on 27 February, ARSH 2013, and it was reconfirmed WITH HIS APPROVAL on 20 May ARSH 2016 by his personal secretary (and incredibly suspicious character) Archbishop Georg Ganswein in a speech at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome laying out Pope Benedict’s mindset vis-a-vis his failed partial-resignation. To deny the clarity of these words is FUNDAMENTALLY DISHONEST. As in, you have to LIE in order to argue that these words mean anything other than their plain meaning. In my experience, every person who has made this argument is FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT UPON THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH IDEOLOGY, be it for a salaried position, paid editorial writing gigs, a pension, or donations/blegging. To deny objective reality is pretty much the textbook definition of having no integrity.“
(Source: Eight years ago today, in a packed Piazza San Pietro, Pope Benedict made it clear that he was not validly resigning the Papacy. Ann Barnhardt, February 28, 2021)
The writer above did not specifically mention me or this blog as being “fundamentally dishonest” or a ‘liar’ or “having no integrity.” However, this blog has perhaps written more than any other blog when it comes to making counter-arguments to the BiP theory (at least that I know of). Therefore, given I have made the precise arguments she suggests exhibit “no integrity”, I cannot help but feel targeted by such a statement. Consequently, I would like to respond to the accusations, taking them in reverse order:
- “every person who has made this argument is FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT UPON THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH IDEOLOGY, be it for a salaried position, paid editorial writing gigs, a pension, or donations/blegging.”
O’Reilly Response: The writer refers to “every person who has made this argument.” Again, as I am one who has made this argument; and one who has written perhaps more frequently than any other blog in making counter-arguments to BiP (to my knowledge), I must consider the writer includes me in her use of “every person.”
Therefore, in response to the writer’s accusation: I am not “financially dependent upon the institutional Church ideology.” Not in any size. Not in any shape,. Not in any form. I am not salaried to write this blog. I have had not been paid for “editorial writing gigs” with regard to my position, nor do I receive a pension from any such source. Furthermore, I do not ask for financial donations, nor have I ever received any, nor have any been ever offered. I have only asked for prayers.
In sum, the financial dependency part of the accusation does not apply to me. Now, that set aside, I find — to me– the writer’s seemingly hidden suggestion that we should dismiss opinions or arguments of those who do have such a dependency to be something of an Argumentum ad Hominem. But in seeming to make the case, she seems to shoot herself in the foot. Consider, the writer above does herself have a blog page which enables donations. Should we dismiss her views on the topic? No. But nor should we dismiss the others.
In my opinion, the fairer and more charitable view would be to accept that any writer on either side of the controversy writes what they do simply because that is what they honestly believe–and thus take on their arguments. To suggest otherwise seems to be a cop-out, a seemingly cheap way to relieve oneself of the responsibility of actually addressing the other side’s counter-arguments.
2. Pope Benedict XVI himself made this perfectly clear in his “last audience” on 27 February, ARSH 2013, and it was reconfirmed WITH HIS APPROVAL on 20 May ARSH 2016 by his personal secretary (and incredibly suspicious character) Archbishop Georg Ganswein in a speech at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome laying out Pope Benedict’s mindset vis-a-vis his failed partial-resignation. To deny the clarity of these words is FUNDAMENTALLY DISHONEST. As in, you have to LIE in order to argue that these words mean anything other than their plain meaning.
O’Reilly Response: Now, with regard to Benedict’s “last audience” and Archbishop Ganswein’s speech, the writer above alleges it is “fundamentally dishonest” and indeed a “lie” to argue any other interpretation — than the one she believes — is the “plain meaning” of the documents in question.
Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I believe there are some serious problems with Francis’s pontificate, as I alluded to earlier. I suppose nothing would bring me greater joy than to see a slam dunk demonstration that Benedict is still pope. Unfortunately, no such slam dunk has been advanced. The problem with writer’s absolute assertions about the “plain meaning” of the aforementioned texts, is that she and others who use them to make similar arguments with regard to these texts fail to consider that more innocent readings might be possible, and indeed more probable — and to refute those innocent readings.
Specifically, with regard to Benedict’s “last audience” we made the case for a more innocent reading, which I honestly believe to be far more probable than the one offered by the writer above. My interpretation of the “last audience” may be found here:
My interpretation of Archbishop Ganswein’s speech may be found here:
The writer above then goes on in her article to say more, but I will restrict myself to commenting only on the following:
I would also like to point out that EVERY defender of the validity of the Bergoglian Antipapacy MUST relentlessly attack the office of the Papacy itself in order to hold their erroneous position. Oddly, this never seems to register with them – they are doing satan’s dirty work for him, and are seemingly quite proud of themselves for it. On a daily basis, in order to not acknowledge the clear logical progression that the false base premise of Bergoglio as Vicar of Christ inescapably demands, these exponents must argue that the Papacy is completely and totally irrelevant and always has been, and beyond that an IDOLATROUS AND THEREFORE EVIL INSTITUTION, that the dogma of Papal Infallibility is false, and thus that Vatican I was false, and most critically, that Our Blessed Lord’s promise to His Holy Church that the See of Peter would be uniquely and perpetually protected by the Holy Ghost Himself, and would thus be trustworthy – a promise which history, no matter how much people try to deny it, clearly shows has held even in the face of some spectacularly bad men ascending to the Papacy, was, in fact, a lie.
In response, I would say I am not a “defender” of Bergoglio, whatever his papacy turns out to be. That much should be clear from the content on this blog. Who knows, perhaps, some day, evidence might come forward to demonstrate conclusively there was a problem with the conclave, or that Benedict was unlawfully forced out, etc. This blog has been open to exploring some possibilities (see The Conclave Chronicles). However, at least in my opinion, no such demonstration is to be had, at least not now with the evidence in hand, and nothing definitive can be said until someone with authority says it, i.e., a future pope. I do believe that unless and or until sufficient contrary evidence is provided, Pope Francis must be considered the presumptive or putative pope.
That aside, the problem with the writer’s commentary above, as I see it, is that she suggests that accepting Francis as pope would somehow falsify the dogma of Papal Infallibility, Vatican I, and the Lord’s “promise to His Holy Church that the See of Peter would be uniquely and perpetually protected by the Holy Ghost Himself, and would thus be trustworthy.” I find this an incredible assertion, certainly in as much as the writer in question herself accuses Benedict XVI of “substantial error.” Some BiP-ers have suggested Benedict’s “substantial error” arises from him believing he could bifurcate the papacy, etc.,– things which are on their face heretical.
The reality is, Benedict has rejected such theories as ‘absurd.’ Furthermore, no visitor he has received, nor any cardinal, bishop, etc., he has communicated with since his resignation have ever suggested Benedict still believes himself to still be pope–certainly none that I am aware of. Thus, the anathemas the writer hurls at those who accept Francis — even if for now putatively as pope — must be hurled, and equally so, at Benedict as well–for he accepts Francis as pope. The bizarre reality of such a BiP position is that Benedict must be considered in schism from himself, since — as he believes himself to have resigned — he must not believe himself to be pope. In sum, the BiP-ers create as many problems for the papacy, Vatican I, etc., as they hope to solve. Now, eight years after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, I hope we may yet still move closer to at least putting the BiP theory to bed.
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 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 StevenOReilly@ProtonMail.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on Parler: @StevenOReilly).
- Many, many years ago, I wrote a few articles for the old Catholic Answers magazine, This Rock. I did receive a minimal stipend for those articles but this was long before the days of Pope Francis. But again, many, many years ago.
- I do have an advertisement/link on my blog for my historical fiction trilogy, book I: PIA FIDELIS: The Two Kingdoms. However, neither my fictional writing nor book sales influence my position on BiP–as for example, I was arguing against BiP prior to the publication of my book.