Being Wrong: The Ontology of the BiP Argument

April 9, 2021 (Steven O’Reilly) – The whole “Benedict is (still) Pope” (BiP) controversy will simply not fade away. Consider, yet another book on the question was recently published, “Benedict XVI: Pope “Emeritus”? by Estefania Acosta.  Why it won’t die away is understandable. The Francis pontificate goes from one train wreck to another. The few good bishops and cardinals there seem to be have been happy to produce “Manifestos”, “Declarations of Truth,” etc. While these are all edifying, they really do not, in my opinion, confront Francis directly as he should be, as say Paul confronted Peter (cf Galatians 2:11-21).  Promises of “corrections” have fizzled away into nothingness. Perhaps these prelates are doing much we do not see, or indeed, perhaps in fairness, they cannot as a matter of prudence do that “something” more. However, whatever the case, in the absence of that “something” many Catholics are trying to fill the gap and provide the solutions. Nature abhors a vacuum as is said.

Personally, I think it would be great if one of these “somethings” turned out to be true.  For example, Roma Locuta Est has researched an idea presented to it from Jesuit circles on Cardinal Bergoglio’s vows and their potential implication in a conclave (see HERE); and we continue to look at the conclave (see The Conclave Chronicles). However, all the various “something” theories need not only more evidence, but also the authority of the Church behind them, specifically a future pope, to make a declaration should the evidence appear. Now, with regard to the evidence provided to date by BiP-ers which I have endeavored to fairly consider, I cannot say they have demonstrated their case — and certainly no where near the degree to claim the metaphysical certitude with which they assert its absolute truth. Since I cannot say it, I won’t. In fact, Roma Locuta Est will continue to provide the reasons and arguments the BiP case fails. To date these arguments are presented in a compilation of articles for reference (see Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope).

Now, all this brings me to the purpose of this post. Dr. Edmund Mazza recently published another article on BiP (see It’s nothing business, it’s strictly personal”: The Psychic Powers of Pope Emeritus Part One).  Dr. Mazza has previously argued in favor of the “Mazza hypothesis,” both on Dr. Taylor Marshall’s show and in articles, which claims Benedict intended to resign as Bishop of Rome, but did not intend to resign the Petrine office. I argued against this “Mazza hypothesis” in a series of articles, the compilation of which is found in the The Summa Contra Dr. Mazza.  Whether Dr. Mazza’s latest article signals his abandonment of this hypothesis in favor of a more “Barnhardtian BiP-ism,” I cannot say for certain.

The recent Dr. Mazza article does not appear to break any new ground from the standard BiP position. There are the same questions as to why Pope Benedict XVI uses “munus” here or there in the Declaratio but then switches to “ministerio” when it comes to the actual renunciation.  I do not believe I ever have heard Dr. Mazza or other BiP-ers adequately explain what Benedict meant when he wrote in the Declaratio he renounces the Petrine ministry ‘in such a way’ that the ‘See of Peter will be vacant.’ If the See of Peter is vacant as Benedict in fact wrote, there is no occupant of it holding either “spiritual munus,” or a “spiritual ministery” — or whatever else BiP-ers allege Benedict intended to retain. The statement is clear. In addition, Benedict goes on to say as a consequence of the See of Peter being vacant, a conclave is to be called to elect a “new supreme pontiff.” That Benedict intended this “new supreme pontiff” in the accepted sense, i.e., a true successor of Peter, is clear in consideration of another document he released before the conclave, entitled Normas Nonnullas. I make that case in the article Addendum: Normas Nonnullas explodes Dr. Mazza’s BiP theory.

When reviewing the arguments of BiP-ers like Dr. Mazza, Ms. Barnhardt, and Mr. Docherty, one of the most glaring problems with the arguments, in my opinion, is that they  don’t address nor even consider the possibility of simpler, less forced interpretations of Benedict’s words than their own. Take for example Dr. Mazza’s article under consideration.  He argues that Benedict believed that becoming a pope made an ontological change in him, or any pope for that matter, which cannot be renounced.  Below, Dr. Mazza introduces a quote from Benedict:

This is what Pope Benedict told journalist Peter Seewald about his resignation in the 2017 book, Benedict XVI, Last Testament: “The Pope is no superman…If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function…the follower of Peter is not merely bound to a function; the office enters into your very being.” (Emphasis Dr. Mazza)

And indeed later on in his article, Dr. Mazza states the following (my emphasis):

Let us now return to our discussion of psychic powers.

In February 2013 Benedict saw the munus Petrinum as an essentially spiritual, invisible, ontological, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY he accepted back in 2005. This one thing or munus consists of active and contemplative “ministerii” Acting on this knowledge, he chose to renounce the “active” ministry “ministerio” of the Bishop of Rome, but not the Petrine munus or office itself, which by its nature enters into your very being and thus is incapable of renunciation.

Now, there are a few things that might said here, but I’ll restrict myself to observing that if Benedict believed as Dr. Mazza suggests — i.e., Benedict believed that the Petrine munus or office enters “your very being and thus is incapable of renunciation”; then does it not then follow Dr. Mazza must say Benedict believes any and all prior papal renunciations (e.g., Celestine V) were invalid?  But, it is clear Benedict does believe such prior renunciations were valid. So what can we draw from this? For one, Dr. Mazza is reading Benedict in an overly strict and limited sense when he says the office “enters into your very being,” if by this Dr. Mazza really means Benedict believes one is incapable of renouncing the Petrine munus. 

The above said, that this is not Benedict’s meaning or intent can be demonstrated from Benedict’s own words elsewhere. Revisiting the Benedict quote above as provided by Dr. Mazza, I was curious to see the full quote, in context. However, when I looked in my copy of Peter Seewald’s book (Pope Benedict XVI: Last Testament in His Own Words), I found something interesting. The part quoted above by Dr. Mazza beginning with “The Pope is no superman…” line comes from page 73, while the “follower of Peter is not merely bound to function; the office enters into your very being” line comes from page 66. So, if Dr. Mazza takes his quotes from Peter Seewalds “Last Testament” book, the quote is constructed out of sequence. The first part of the quote as provided by Dr. Mazza occurs eight questions after the second part, and does not include the context, i.e., what questions were Benedict responding too. I am not suggesting anything nefarious here; but the quote as presented is simply not accurate if it comes from Seewald’s “Last Testament”.

Let’s look at the full context the quotes as it related to Dr. Mazza’s overall ontological argument, beginning with Seewald’s question in each case, but taking them in proper order (emphasis mine):

Seewald:  In the resignation speech the reason you gave for relinquishing your office was the diminishing of your energy. But is the slowdown in the ability to perform, reason enough to climb down from the chair of Peter? 

Benedict: One can of course make that accusation, but it would be a functional misunderstanding. The follower of Peter is not merely bound to function; the office enters your very being. In this regard, fulfilling a function is not the only criterion. Then again, the Pope must do concrete things, must keep the whole situation in his sights, must know which priorities to set, and so on. This ranges from receiving heads of state, receiving bishops — with whom one must be able to enter into a deeply intimate conversation — to the decisions which come each day. Even if you say a few of these things can be struck off, there remain so many things which are essential, that, if the capability to do them is no longer there — for me anyway; someone else might see it otherwise — now’s the time to free up the chair

(Benedict XVI:  Last Testament in his own words, Peter Seewald, p. 66, Kindle Version)

The “office enters your very being” quote is now above seen in the context of the question. First, consider, Benedict does not deny Seewald’s premise, i.e., that Benedict had ‘relinquished your office.’ Rather, the focus of the question and Benedict’s answer is solely on whether the reasons for doing so, i.e., relinquishing the office, were sufficient. And on this point, Benedict explains his why; i.e., that when the “capability” is no longer there to do the ‘concrete things’ required of a pope, then in his view “now’s the time to free up the chair.” Such a statement echoes the Declaratio where Benedict says he is resigning in ‘such a way’ that the See of Peter is vacant.  Nothing can be clearer.  Benedict is no longer pope in any sense. The quote does not support Dr. Mazza’s argument.

Now, let’s take a look at the other part of the earlier quote used by Dr. Mazza but now in full context (emphasis mine):

Seewald: One objection is that the papacy has been secularized by the resignation; that it is no longer a unique office but an office like any other.

Benedict:  I had to accept that question, and consider whether or not functionalism would completely encroach upon the papacy, so to speak.  But similar steps had already been made with the episcopacy. Earlier, bishops were not allowed to resign. There were a number of bishops who said ‘I am a father and that I’ll stay’, because you cannot simply stop being a father; stopping is a functionalization and secularization, something from the sort of concept of public office which shouldn’t apply to a bishop. To that I must reply; even a father’s role stops. Of course a father does not stop being a father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such. It was also this way with bishops.  Anyway, since then it has become generally understood on the one hand the bishop is bearer of a sacramental mission which remains binding on him inwardly, but on the other hand this does not have to keep him in his function forever. And so I think it clear that also the Pope is no superman and his mere existence is not sufficient to conduct his role; rather, he likewise exercises a function. If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function. In this respect one comes to understand that the office of the Pope has lost none of its greatness, even if the humanity of the office is perhaps becoming more clearly evident. 

(Benedict XVI:  Last Testament in his own words, Peter Seewald, p. 73, Kindle Version)

In the answer above, Benedict compares and contrasts himself with the bishops.  Although bishops long ago may have thought they could not resign, it is now understood “on the one hand the bishop is bearer of a sacramental mission which remains binding on him inwardly.” However, “on the other hand this does no have to keep him in his function forever“, i.e., being a bishop of a particular see.  Benedict then adds a pope can step down from his function as well, and comparing this by analogy to the case of the bishops, he means the position of pope, bishop of Rome.

But what does Benedict mean when he says he remains “in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on“? Well we have already seen what it does not mean!  It certainly does not mean he can’t leave the office given Benedict, as quoted above, talked about it being “time to free up the chair (of Peter).” 

Benedict XVI’s Last Audience

In his article, Dr. Mazza also attempts to use Benedict’s final audience as a proof that Benedict was only resigning the “active ministry”.  However, I think the use of the “last audience” by BiP-ers is, in my opinion, a clear example of how BiP-ers neglect to even consider a simpler, and natural reading of Benedict’s words. Rather, as in the case of the Seewald interview, with the last audience the leading BiP-ers opt for an overly elaborate, and unnatural interpretation of Benedict’s words, trying to force them like a square peg into a round hole. I have discussed their forced interpretations before (see re Benedict and or Ganswein HERE, HERE, and HERE). [NB: One BiP-er (see HERE) recently accused those who deny their interpretations of certain audiences/speeches as being “liars,” lacking integrity, and being “FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT UPON THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH IDEOLOGY”, etc! (see my response here: On the 8th Anniversary of the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI)]. 

Yet, as clear as the last audience is in my opinion, some like Dr. Mazza suggest that Benedict XVI’s final audience shows he intended to keep part of the Petrine ministry and or munus. I think, instead, the unbiased reader will see that Benedict explains something of the “inward” responsibility he feels, like the father in the Seewald interview.  I have excerpted part of the final audience below (emphasis added):

Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. I was able to experience, and I experience it even now, that one receives one’s life precisely when one gives it away. Earlier I said that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and feel great affection for him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.

The “always” is also a “for ever” – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God. (excerpted from the last general audience of Pope Benedict XVI, February 27, 2013)

It is clear that “always” and “for ever” refers to Benedict’s privacy, not an indelible mark of the papacy. Obviously, anyone elected to the papacy and who either dies in office or resigns it subsequently, will always be a public persona in some way given they ‘belong’ to the Church and history. Benedict has already talked about the election to the papacy as eliminating, in a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life – but then also he speaks of what this loss gains for him (i.e., now belonging to all, and all to him).  He then says his resignation does not change this, i.e., he will not lose this belonging, nor will he lose his love of all those who had become his daughters and sons, sisters and brothers as pope.

Thus, Benedict tells us: “no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.” Here, Benedict tells us, again, he will no longer be pope(!), and that his life will now be devoted to praying for the whole Church (i.e., those who became his sons and daughters, sisters and brothers as pope), and it is in this way – “so to speak” – he remains in the enclosure of Peter, praying for the whole Church.  But again note, here he says he remains “in the enclosure of Peter” only in a sense (“so to speak”), i.e., not in fact.  Benedict tells us he was not “abandoning the cross” but remaining in a “new way” – i.e., not as pope“at the side of the Crucified Christ.”  

Benedict’s logic explaining this “inner responsibility”, in brief summary, runs as follows: (1) one who is elected pope belongs to the Church and the Church to him, the private dimension of his life in a “manner of speaking” is lost; (2) yet, one receives one’s life when one gives it away, i.e., the Pope truly gains brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world; (3) a Pope feels secure in their embrace because he “no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him;” (4) resigning the papacy does not revoke this loving attachment (i.e., that which has been gained by the loss of the private dimension of one’s life), as he will always retain that love for all (i.e., for we the Church), and thus (5) he will pray in service for the Church; and it is in this qualified sense – “so to speak” – he remains in the “enclosure of Peter,” but not in fact.  The interpretation suggested here is more natural to the text, and a reasonable understanding of what Benedict meant when he later spoke in his Seewald interview of how he remains “in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on.”

Conclusion

I have said it before…and again now. The reality is, Benedict has rejected such BiP theories as ‘absurd,’ and in a letter to Cardinal Brandmuller, undisputed, makes reference to himself as a “former pope.” Furthermore, no visitor he has received, nor any cardinal, bishop, etc., he has communicated with since his resignation have ever suggested Benedict believes himself to still be pope–certainly none that I am aware of. Thus, the anathemas (and ad hominems) hurled by some BiP-ers against those who reject BiP, must also be hurled at Benedict as well. That is to say, Benedict must be considered in schism from himself because he believes himself to have resigned; and therefore, he does not accept himself to be the true pope. In sum, the BiP-ers create as many problems for the papacy, Vatican I, etc., as they earnestly but erroneously 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 or Gab: @StevenOReilly).


26 thoughts on “Being Wrong: The Ontology of the BiP Argument

  1. Proving the BiP thesis is entirely unnecessary to show that Jorge Bergoglio cannot possibly be pope.

    Popes must be Catholic.
    Bergoglio is a manifest heretic.
    Thus Bergoglio cannot possibly be pope.

    The BiP theory is totally superfluous.

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    1. Jeremiah; thanks for the comments. I don’t exclude a future pope may reach the same conclusion you have. I still would like bishops to consider the “Open Letter” of the 20 or so scholars (now many more).

      But there are also other “solutions” to what we’re facing in Francis (e.g., certain violations of UDG).

      But any viable, potential solution needs real evidence and good arguments. BiP in my opinion has none of these. Folks are being led into a boxed canyon.

      Unfortunately; the leading luminaries of BiP seem to me to hold to it with a metaphysical certitude; even moral certitude seems far beyond what the most generous rendering of their evidence allows.

      Thanks for reading,

      Steve

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      1. I salute you.

        True it is that we, as laymen, lack jurisdiction to officially pronounce that Bergoglio isn’t pope. Yet this doesn’t mean we can’t, right now, acknowledge the stark reality spitting in our faces day after day; namely, that as a manifest heretic and thus not a Catholic, Jorge Bergoglio cannot possibly be pope. Therefore he isn’t to be treated as such in any way. He’s a diabolical impostor and forerunner of the Antichrist. He should be treated and critiqued as such, as the mortal enemy of the Faith that he is. Maximum disrespect is called for regarding this infernal man. This is the truly charitable position.

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      2. I meant to add the following to my second message:

        We must come to understand that the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, and Hillary Clinton are choir boys compared to Jorge Bergoglio, who’s leading millions upon millions upon tens of millions upon hundreds of millions of souls to hell.

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      3. By your reasoning it would seem that a validly married person who renounced their marriage but failed to go through the proper procedure to gain an “annulment” would be released from the marriage bond.

        Statements such as, “I annulled the marriage,” would suffice to you as proof that matters were handled correctly. Nobody need concern themselves with proper form. Just intent. Oddly, however, form is critical. We don’t get baptized with ketchup or mustard. The Precious Blood of Our Lord is not confected from Kool-Aid. Matter and form. Serious stuff that doesn’t fade away. Golly, I wonder why.

        Maybe I’m simplifying here, but a truly “generous” reading of the position of others should include the acknowledgement of a very real defect of form. And even the defects inherent in all of us as we attempt to explain the total crazy of this pontificate.

        Perhaps +BXVI should be encouraged to correct, clarify, and OWN the error of the form he engaged. Call the man out. We are called to FIX OUR MISTAKES in this life as much as possible. Like addressing a faulty marriage situation. (Or does Amoris Letitia provide for smudging all doctrine/form/etc as a mere ‘ideal?”

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      4. Ann, thanks for the comments. There is no required formula for resigning the papacy. It need be free and manifestly clear.

        Regarding freedom; I suppose there might one day be some revelation to show it wasn’t…but that is a tough hill to climb when Benedict has given every indication it was free such as in his Last Testament interview with Seewald. If there was a plot, my hypothesis would be it was constructed to influence BXVI’s state of mind; to get him to think resigning was best thing and his own idea. I don’t see him resigning under a more direct threat.

        As to being manifest; Benedict explained he was no longer up to the ‘job’; and that he renounced the Petrine ministry and the see of Peter would be “vacant”; and he called for a new conclave to elect a new “supreme pontiff”. This should manifest that he intended and in fact did vacate the see of Peter to make “way” for a new supreme pontiff. The other theories about “active” and “passive” parts of papacy; or the “Mazza hypothesis” positing BXVI meant to resign as bishop of Rome but not as Peter’s successor are Rube Goldberg like theories. I think this becomes evident looking at the BiP interpretations of BXVI’s last audience and interviews; Gansweins speech, etc. as I point out in the article.

        I am not a fan of Francis in the least. If one reads thru this blog; that much should be evident. But a bad theory is never a substitute for a good one.

        Thanks for the feedback.

        God bless,

        Steve

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      5. “It need be free and manifestly clear.”

        Benedict’s resignation was not manifestly clear and that is the problem.

        So, too, is your assumption that others are predicating their objections to the abdication based on a like or dislike of Francis. You may operate by way of subjective feelings but others may not. Your push to marginalize what you deem “a bad theory” based solely on your feelings, and yes, that’s what you’re doing, is similarly problematic. (Otherwise, define ‘bad’ in unemotional terms.)

        That alone would lead me to distrust you for you seem inclined to put words/feelings/motives into the mouths and hearts of others. (Why would you believe I thought you were pro-Francis? That’s a leap, Steven, one you may want to own.)

        The cloud surrounding Benedict’s faulty resignation–manifestly unclear and novel and deserving of written clarification from Benedict–should be addressed even if Francis were another Pius X. (Even if the new wife is wonderful, specifics matter.)

        So when you say, “I am not a fan of Francis in the least. If one reads thru this blog; that much should be evident. But a bad theory is never a substitute for a good one,” you call yourself out to this reader as a man led by presumption, feelings that need a label so you can relax, and one who has little respect for his fellows if their fact based view makes you uncomfortable. That you assert “good” to yourself and your theories is similarly disturbing as only God is good.

        Thank you for the feedback.

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      6. Ann,

        It is a matter of speculation as to what would have happened if the 2013 conclave had given us a pope like Pius X, instead of Francis. Would the leading BiP-ers have brought forward their same theories? I have my own speculative opinion on that, you may have your own.

        That I think or conclude BiP is a bad theory is a result of my analysis of the theory — which I originally went into years ago, intrigued and hoping it was true.

        I’ve provided the results of my review of the evidence, and reasons for rejecting it in the Summa Contra BiP series of articles. Obviously, one is free to disagree with my arguments and conclusions. You do.

        As to labeling…I am opposed to it. I have tried to be fair to all sides in discussing arguments, whatever the controversy. Am I perfect, no. However, I have not engaged in calling other “liars”, being financially motivated, nor have I seemingly insinuated others say what they do about BiP because they are part of an intelligence operation.

        Now as to asserting “good”, it is not, as you say of myself! There may indeed be a theory that will one day properly account for Francis’ pontificate…but, in my view, as I have said, BiP won’t be it, You think it a good one, or even the true answer.

        Steve

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      7. Steve,

        Not sure why you’re getting into the weeds and feigning that my Pius X reference was anything other than an example of what could have resulted in ’13. A result that would change nothing whatsoever about the validity or lack thereof concerning the mangled attempt of BXVI to ‘partially’ abdicate the See of Peter while introducing novelty to the office.

        I seek to ascribe no ulterior motive neither positive or negative regarding BXVI’s attempt at abdication.

        There are reasons why BXVI resigned in such fashion. Whatever those reasons were, his resignation is demonstrably flawed and one reason why the issue at hand should never fade away. That such a well educated man of letters and experience would render such a flawed resignation and BXVI’s insistence on retaining the visible signs of papacy as regards his person is nothing but laying bait for the very issue you seem to wish would fade away.

        That’s another reason why I find it untenable that the children should bicker and scrabble over who is correct when it is the parent figure who is causing the dissension.

        Perhaps a petition for Benedict to clarify himself, in writing, would do better than deriding those who are, naturally, seeking some rational explanation for a Pope who obviously knows better to do less than what is required. Something is rotten and it was rotten before Francis.

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  2. A fascinating theory is examined here:

    Cionci: The Possible Reconstruction of Benedict XVI’s “Plan B”
    https://www.marcotosatti.com/2021/04/11/cionci-the-possible-reconstruction-of-benedict-xvis-plan-b/

    Subtitles:

    A Reconstruction of Ratzinger’s possible Plan B to cancel the church of Bergoglio with a complete purification of the Church

    A Purposefully invalid Resignation? — We investigate the thesis of Attorny Acosta and various theologians

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    1. Jeremiah, thanks for the comment.

      Sorry…I cannot agree this theory is ‘fascinating.’ It is bad enough BiP-ers suggest Benedict may have unintentionally inflicted the Francis pontificate upon us…but to do it intentionally?

      The theory appears as absurd for the following reasons.

      (1) BXVI would be the cause of many Catholics following what would then be certainly a true anti-pope into perdition.

      (2) The plan would be highly presumptuous. BXVI could have no way of knowing he would survive long enough, given his advanced age, to spring his ‘trap’

      (3) Here we are…EIGHT years have now passed and Benedict is still weaker…why hasn’t the trap been sprung by now?

      (4) How could BXVI expect the plans to really work? The longer he waited, the more powerful the St. Gallen mafia types would becomes, holding all the key curia positions, the key episcopal sees….what leverage could he possible have now, that he didn’t have at the time he thought of such a crazy plans??

      There are undoubtedly more reason to suggest this theory as ridiculous…but I’ll stop here for now.

      It is a shame that so much time is being put into nearly all forms of BiP…a tremendous distraction, and worse, a cause of division. For example, you have the likes of Ann Barnhardt and or Br. Bugnolo accusing either unnamed others (me too apparently) of being liars, rebutting BiP for financial motives, or apparently, as part of an intelligence operation(?). See https://romalocutaest.com/2021/02/28/on-the-8th-anniversary-of-the-resignation-of-pope-benedict-xvi/

      Truly, the BiP theories of the sort propounded by Barnhardt and Bugnolo are a gift to Francis.

      Thanks again for the comments.

      Steve

      P.S. Br. Bugnolo in his recent article on me said asserted I am a convert. I am not sure how being a convert or not is relevant…but for the record…I am not a convert. I am a cradle Catholic, having gone through all Catholic schools through university.

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      1. Steven, I agree with you, though I believe this theory is both ridiculous and fascinating. I find it ridiculous because Joseph Ratzinger is himself, like Bergoglio, a Modernist and thus a man of the Judas Council.

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  3. You should hear yourself talk.

    You: “It is clear that “always” and “for ever” refers to Benedict’s privacy, not an indelible mark of the papacy.”

    No, that is not clear at all. And that is the nut of it.

    Pope Benedict XVI: “I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.”

    That statement is clear, and it refers to the “indelible mark”, not his “privacy”.

    There is only one man who can bear the cross of Christ’s Vicar and that man is the Pope. Not two. One. Always one. Only one. Only one man gets to wear white in the world and that is Christ’s Vicar who bears the Office alone. Antipope’s can govern. Antipopes can not be in the enclosure of St. Peter. Antipopes can (and have before) occupy the See of Peter (Rome) for government. Antipopes can not bear the Cross and remain (truly) at the side of Christ.

    Pope Benedict XVI did not abandon the cross. He retains the Cross at the side of Christ by his own words. He remains within the enclosure – by his own words and subsequent very visible actions he remains.

    Words matter (Munus ≠ Ministerium). Actions matter (White ≠ Black; Remain ≠ Leave; Abandon ≠ Retain).

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    1. Aqua, thanks for the comments.

      However, Benedict is speaking of ‘privacy’ and the ‘private sphere.’

      (1) “The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church.”

      and…

      (2) “The “always” is also a “for ever” – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on.”

      He talks about “privacy” and the “private sphere” when speaking of “always and forever”.

      Consequently, looking at all of what he says, I believe the more natural, and simpler reading of his meaning is something along the lines as suggested in the article:

      “Benedict’s logic explaining this “inner responsibility”, in brief summary, runs as follows: (1) one who is elected pope belongs to the Church and the Church to him, the private dimension of his life in a “manner of speaking” is lost; (2) yet, one receives one’s life when one gives it away, i.e., the Pope truly gains brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world; (3) a Pope feels secure in their embrace because he “no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him;” (4) resigning the papacy does not revoke this loving attachment (i.e., that which has been gained by the loss of the private dimension of one’s life), as he will always retain that love for all (i.e., for we the Church), and thus (5) he will pray in service for the Church; and it is in this qualified sense – “so to speak” – he remains in the “enclosure of Peter,” but not in fact. The interpretation suggested here is more natural to the text, and a reasonable understanding of what Benedict meant when he later spoke in his Seewald interview of how he remains “in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on.””

      Thanks for the comments.

      Steve

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  4. Following your logic – he is within the enclosure of St. Peter only in the sense that he still loves the Church and will continue to pray for us.

    But you ignore that he has never payed down the Papal cross, alongside his risen Lord. And you ignore that he remains within the enclosure of St. Peter.

    The “more natural interpretation of the text” is that “so to speak” acknowledges that he gave the government to a usurper and he by no means gave him anything else – the most important thing f all which is the *Keys* to the Kingdom.

    And the objective evidence that Bergóglio does not currently possess the Keys to the Kingdom? He is the destroyer, doing precisely what I would expect an antipope to do.

    THAT is the most natural interpretation of the text and all subsequent events which sees two visible Popes occupying the same physical Vatican space for the first time in world history.

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    1. Aqua, thanks again for the comments.

      There are a couple times in his last audience where Benedict uses phrases such “manner of speaking” or “so to speak.” It is a manner of speaking, not to be taken quite so literally.

      Even accepting “objective evidence that Bergoglio does not currently possess the Keys to the Kingdom” to be true, such a truth would NOT be a proof in itself that Benedict is still Pope. That is to say, Francis might not be pope, but that doesn’t make Benedict still the pope. There are, theoretically, other explanations. Again, a bad theory is no substitute for a good one.

      While I personally don’t exclude the possibility of these other theories; Francis’ acts and errors are still ‘explainable’ within the context of the doctrine of papal infallibility; that is to say, as horrendous as he has indeed been, he has not falsified any doctrine related to the Petrine doctrines.

      Steve

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      1. “As to working together, I fully agree. But…don’t ask me to treat BiP as if it is DEFINITELY true, or ask me to agree it provides enough evidence to attain moral certitude.”

        Steve,

        I’m not asking you to treat BiP as definitely true. I’m stating that BXVI’s resignation was/is flawed. It is. On its face, it’s flawed. That combined with Benedict’s actions–not Francis–of attempting to retain the styling of being pope in any fashion whatsoever is problematic. Why? Because it is. Otherwise, we would not be having to defend and/or argue anything.

        I’m glad you are inclined to work together.

        I never said you should accept any theory with moral certitude. We are, however, experiencing a deep and visible crisis within the Church wherein yes is no longer yes and no is no longer no. Lack of clarity seems to be the new fashion and willfully confusing the flock the walking orders of those in positions of authority. The Pope included.

        All joking aside, its running like a Psyops engagement or a magic show wherein the target population is willfully misled so as to orchestrate something that might otherwise upset the little people. Like reshaping the papacy into something it never was. (Are we going to have a college of retired popes in future? All wearing white? We’re kinda setting precedence here if nobody calls out the obvious disconnects.)

        So will I deride the BiP crowd as having a bad theory? Um. No. Reason being, we’ve been fed confusion and those in positions of authority are counting on the malleable after effects. Will I say that you’re bad because you’re not in with the BiP crowd? No. You’re doing your level best, but so too are other sheep forced to feed on this massive field of Astro Turf.

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      2. Ann,

        I suspect Francis loves the BiP theory, and he hopes more traditionalist-conservatives gravitate to it. I think he and his buddies are laughing about it, frankly.

        In writing about BIP, it is not some amusing past time for me. As I said somewhere earlier, I first came to BiP intrigued and hopeful, as I fully realize the problems of Francis. However, the initial interest did not last long. The more I read the arguments and evidence for it, the more I saw the gaping holes in it. I thought a lot of well intended Catholics were being fed a weak theory.

        Being a Catholic blogger, and one who has done some amateur apologetics before, I thought I had an obligation to lay out the case against BiP, as no one else was doing it to any great extent. I might be in error, but I don’t think any other blog has written as much against BiP. I will continue to do so.

        So, if you followed my blog and or arguments chronologically on the question, and read the comboxes…I think you’ll see I gave BiP a fair hearing and try to deal head-on with its arguments, and even if you disagree with my counter-arguments.

        God bless,

        Steve

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  5. And what are these Keys, retained by Pope Benedict XVI? According to the words of Our Lord as He established His Church on the Rock of His earthly Vicar:

    Matthew 16: 17-19:

    17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
    18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
    19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

    Bergóglio may impose adultery upon us; impose Pachamama Baal upon us; impose equivalence of all religion upon us; advance godless secular government upon us; take away Holy Mass from us – but he can never, never impose these things on heaven and upon God’s Kingdom because he does not have the Keys. He has power over earthly government within the See of Peter, which is Rome. He has no power over binding heaven and earth.

    The Keys are in the Munus. The Keys are in the cross Pope Benedict retains alongside his risen Lord. The Keys are in the enclosure of St. Peter. Bergóglio is not there. Benedict XVI is there by his own words. A clear, simple and obvious “reading of the text” proves this.

    Like

    1. What if the keys? The problem has always been the failure of BiP to demonstrate Benedict kept them, either intentionally or unintentionally.

      Benedict spoke of remaining by the Lord in a ‘new way’, I.e., not as pope.

      Steve

      Like

      1. Benedict spoke of remaining by the Lord in a ‘new way’, i.e. not in the form of the papal office as it has been formerly understood. This ‘novelty’ of a retired pope who displays himself as a pope–have some mercy on the little folks who see the trappings of the papal office and think pope–instead of withdrawing from the public sphere in total is hugely problematic.

        Tease out the details, Steven, and maybe own a little of your bias prior to labeling others bad and you, by default, ‘good.’ Slapping on the black and/or white hats may help you to continue breathing because the Vatican is once again refusing to clarify themselves while floating increasingly unclear teachings/declarations, that should be clarified. But clarity is the enemy of slow, sneak-it-by-them change and apologists who deem looking closely at details as bad are the facilitators of that change. Shaming the flock for sniffing funky grass before chomping it down.

        You say you’re against Francis, and yet Francis is the fruit of ambiguity given a huge pass because, well, the Vatican need not clarify itself. Steven will explain. There’s no novelty here, move along. It’s a ‘bad’ idea to look too closely and call ambiguity precisely that and pushing for necessary review–and accountability. (Sneaking in a change to the papacy while resigning the papacy. Clever? Or unacceptable. Why not change it openly and speak clearly, letting one’s yes mean yes and one’s no mean no?)

        Seriously. If you’re anti-Francis and pro-Catholic, maybe we should all work to get to the whole truth and a clear conveyance of said truth. Not an intellectual chicken scratch where every bird needs to peck the other’s head to silence it and bring peace to the hen house.

        Like

      2. Ann,

        Again…I am not saying BiP-ers are “bad.” I said the theory is “bad”, as in lacking real evidence. Nor have I asserted I am “good.” As to regard to “good” theories, I am sure there is ultimately “the” explanation. I don’t say that I know it; but for my part, I am researching various angles — but who knows, they may end up dead ends.

        As to working together, I fully agree. But…don’t ask me to treat BiP as if it is DEFINITELY true, or ask me to agree it provides enough evidence to attain moral certitude.

        Steve

        Like

  6. “ …. such a truth would NOT be a proof in itself that Benedict is still Pope.“

    The proof required is not that Benedict IS still Pope, but that he is not. Joseph Ratzinger IS Pope until proven otherwise. In other words, the burden is on you to prove the negative, not me the positive.

    Joseph Ratzinger is still Pope, always, forever, until
    (1): he dies in office (262/266).
    (2): he properly manifests his resignation (4/266).

    Manifest def: to show something clearly, through signs or actions.

    I do not agree with you that a Pope who submitted his resignation letter specifically from the Ministerium but not the Munus and who remains in the Vatican in white, His Holiness, bestowing Apostolic Blessings and receiving new Cardinals has “properly manifested” his resignation. What happened was textbook IMproperly manifested. It really can’t be any more improper than how he did it.

    A Papal resignation must be perfect to be valid. This one is not that. It is a hot mess.

    The Keys remain with the Pope until he freely and properly manifests his resignation. Then – and only then – is the Seat vacant and the Keys in abeyance.

    Like

    1. Aqua,

      There is no required formula for a resignation. There is no requirement the word “munus” be specifically used. BXVI talks about in incapacity to govern, and this leads to the logical conclusion, that he renounces the Petrine ministry, and thus, the See of Peter will be vacant, and a conclave must now be called to elected ‘new supreme pontiff’. Further, in the run up to the effective date of his resignation, he published Normas Nonnullas making a few changes to UDG. One thing not touched is the meaning of who is elected by conclave and what the “supreme pontiff” represents. Thus, it it is further clear he new full well his successor was to be elected by the upcoming conclave.

      I argue his Last Audience drives home the point he will no longer be pope. I’ve addressed that in my article above, and in others. Benedict in his letters to Brandmuller makes a reference to himself as a “former pope.” Tornielli, I believe, quotes him as saying the BiP types theories are “absurd.” Regardless of the problems with Tornielli it is not likely he’d throw that out publicly if BXVI didn’t really say it, as it would otherwise be falsified by BXVI. However, he never has.

      Further, BXVI has had many visitors, cardinals, bishops, etc., and or correspondence and or phone calls with cardinals and bishops, etc., and none, to my knowledge at least, has ever stated he has given the slightest hint he believes himself still pope.

      What’s more, he’s had interviews with Peter Seewald, where again, he had never stated he is still pope, even though some try to make hay out of some of the analogies he resorts to. But I have addressed these in a few places, such as the article above — showing for example, that Dr. Mazza’s quote is not accurate, and without proper context.

      I could go on…but I’ll stop here. I suppose it might be one thing to consider BiP as a longshot hope, that one day might be reviewed and accepted by a future pope. However, it seems to me, given the paucity of evidence, it is quite another thing to consider the evidence rises to such a weight as to allow moral certainty on the question.

      I believe die hard BiP-ers are being led into an intellectual, boxed canyon from which it may be difficult to escape should events unfold in certain ways. Such are the dangers of overly committing when the evidence doesn’t warrant it.

      Anyway…your disagreement with me is noted. Thanks for the discussion.

      Steve

      Like

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