April 11, 2021 (Steven O’Reilly) – I saw an article today on the great Marco Tosatti’s website. The article, by Andrea Cionci, was entitled Cionci: The Possible Reconstruction of Benedict XVI’s “Plan B”. I recommend all interested in the “Benedict is (still) Pope” (BiP) debate to read the article as it is, to a degree, a variant of the standard BiP theory.
The more “standard BiP” theory put forward by its leading lights  suggests Pope Benedict XVI’s renunciation statement, Declaratio, was plagued with a variety of errors, and or the misuse of Munus/Ministerio, and or Benedict’s deficient intent, e.g., some BiP-ers believe Benedict thought he could bifurcate the papacy, and keep part of it to himself, or even surrender the episcopacy of Rome but not the papacy (see The Summa Contra Dr. Mazza). The end result of it all is, according to the BiP-ers, Benedict’s resignation is invalid, and therefore, he is still pope…or so the BiP theorists would have you believe.
The linked article above is yet the latest attempt to keep the “Benedict is (still) Pope” (BiP) theory alive. While we understand and sympathize with the attraction of the BiP theory to many — rooted as it is in the valid observation there are significant problems posed by the Francis pontificate — the position of Roma Locuta Est is, and remains, that the BiP theory as put forward by its leading lights is absolute bunk. This blog has commented on many of the troubling aspects of the Bergoglian pontificate . However, in terms of explaining it, we have long stated that a bad theory is no substitute for a good one. Given we believe BiP is insufficient in evidence, we have posted a series of articles debunking various BiP arguments, now included in a compendium entitled Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope).
Now, the latest BiP theory seems to resurrect an old BiP theory which suggests Benedict’s errors in his renunciation, referenced above, were in fact intentional. While seemingly presented as new, I believe this variant of the BiP theory goes back at least a couple of years. Regardless, Marco Tosatti in introducing the article speaks of this theorized, supposed intentional action by Benedict as Benedict’s “plan B.” Here Tosatti references the theory, citing an article (i.e., Cionci’s above), that Benedict intentionally faked his resignation, essentially to draw out the modernist enemies of the Church, to one day crush them. Andrea Cionci writes of this plot:
The question of the “two Pope” and of the resignation of Benedict XVI is a very broad one, not to be discounted, spreading over 8 years and events difficult to interpret. In these moths, we have analyzed many individual facts and documents without receiving any response to our questions, legitimate through they be.
And yet, the thesis that has been proposed by the attorney Estefania Acosta and by other authorative journalists, jurists, theologians and ecclesiastics (many of whom have paid a dear price for their positions), is shocking: Pope Benedict XVI might have WILLINGLY prearranged an entirely invalid resignation to open a new front against his adversaries, causing them to nominate an antipope and arranging that in time the truth above the antichrist objectives of the “Deep Church” and the fact that he is still the sole Pope, be discovered. This would bring about the definitive cancellation of the “false Church”, along with great purification from heresy and corruption, to open up a new epoch of Christian renewal.
Is this plausible?
While I respect and admire Marco Tosatti, the obvious answer to Cionci’s question “is this plausible?” is a resounding “HECK NO!”
This “Plan B” reminds me of Ed Wood‘s convoluted plot in his low budget, 1950s cult-classic Sci-Fi movie, Plan 9 from Outer Space. It is bad enough that “standard theory” BiP-ers suggest Benedict may have unintentionally inflicted the Francis pontificate upon us. But, that Benedict would do so intentionally is even more absurd! Indeed, horrific! The theory is absurd on its face. Why are we seriously being asked to consider it? I pray prelates in Rome are thinking more of how to conduct an imperfect council than to lend an ear to such theories.
In my view, this Plan “B” from Outer Space is obviously wrong for the following reasons, and this is by no means an extensive and all inclusive list:
(1) If Benedict XVI intended to fake his resignation, this would mean he allowed a modernist to be “seemingly” elected pope, in which case, this pope would certainly be a true anti-pope, potentially leading millions upon millions of Catholics into perdition through his false doctrines. How could Benedict justify this for any reason? The end does not justify the means! Benedict would be morally to blame for allowing the wolves to ravage the sheep without the protection of their chief shepherd here on earth, Benedict himself! It is one thing to suggest a shepherd might lie in wait, only seeming to abandon the sheep so as to hide in the dark to ambush a wolf when he prowls among the flock before the wolf attacked. However, it is quite another thing to suggest a good shepherd would allow the wolf free rein — and then for eight years! Impossible. Benedict is no such monster. He is no such idiot.
(2) If Benedict XVI intended to fake his resignation, this would be highly presumptuous of him. Benedict would have no way of knowing beforehand he would survive long enough, given his advanced age, to even spring his ‘trap’ upon the anti-pope and his modernist minions. What if he died before he sprung the trap? In such a case, he would be handing over the flock uncontested to the enemy.
(3) If Benedict XVI intended to fake his resignation, why hasn’t he sprung his trap by now? Eight long years have now passed, and Benedict grows ever weaker physically and mentally. Why has he not sprung his trap by now? There is no good or reasonable answer.
(4) If Benedict XVI intended to fake his resignation, how could he really expect such a plan to work? Consider, even as weak in power as he may have been on February 10th, 2012 before his ostensible resignation announcement, certainly we was stronger at that moment than he is now, eight years later. That is, he has given his successor eight years to appoint more Cardinals — over 50% of the entire college of cardinals, and more bishops, and archbishops, etc. Further, Benedict’s allies in key curial positions have been phased out over time (e.g., Burke, Mueller, Sarah, etc.). Thus, Benedict is in a weaker position of power today to launch a counter-attack, than he was when he ostensibly resigned.
There are more reasons to suggest this theory is ridiculous…but I’ll stop here for now, as these are more than sufficient to demonstrate the point. But, let us take a look at the article cited by Tosatti, as it attempts to ask and answer some of these questions. For example, Cionci asks, and then responds (emphasis added):
- What is Benedict waiting for?
Benedict is still waiting, tranquil in his prayer and contemplation, and communicating with the outside world by means of precise and surgical terms: he awaits the Cardinals and Bishops to open their eyes.
He does not speak openly: even if he would succeed in speaking the truth in public, today, he would be immediately silence with the excuse of senile ramblings. No: it is rather the Catholic people who, in this Apocalypse, in the sense of a Revelation, have to convert, have to UNDERSTAND, and ACT. And it is the clergy who have to shake off their inertia, by rediscovering the course, the strength, and the heroism of the Faith. HERE: https://www.liberoquotidiano.it/articolo_blog/blog/andrea-cionci/24974299/cardinali-perche-vestono-rosso-forse-solo-fashion.html
The answer above is utterly ridiculous. This is no plan at all. It is insulting to suggest a man as intelligent as Benedict faked his resignation, opting for a plan which depends on “cardinals and bishops to open their eyes.” How could he expect them to open their eyes later, when they didn’t do so when they knew he was pope? Further, what sort of plan is it that, by his very act of waiting, Benedict has put himself in the position of having his words appear as “senile ramblings.” If his are now “senile ramblings”, how then, precisely, can he ever speak up to reassert his authority, without seeming a senile old man?
By waiting under this theory, Benedict took on a moral responsibility before God for any sheep lost as a result of his plan, and for all the sacrileges, etc. And, indeed, there could be many. If Benedict really did pursue this course of action, then he is responsible for every act of the anti-pope to whom he conceded the field of battle, even if only temporarily. But still…this is a long “temporary”…lasting eight years so far!! This would make Benedict as much of a monster as the modernist anti-pope and all of the anti-pope’s minion which he hoped to thwart by a faked resignation.
However, the Cionci’s article goes on to discuss the solution of it all (emphasis added).
- The solution to the whole problem: a declaratory Synod
The solution, in the end, is a simple one: let the Bishops convoke a synod, like that which was convoked historically (such as Sutri or Melfi V) to establish with certainty which of the due or pore popes is the true one.
Ratzinger knows that during such an encounter the reality will easily come forth: the anti-pope and all of his actions, nominations, doctrinal and liturgical changes, will vanish into nothingness. It will be as if he never exited. Death does not preoccupy Benedict: his resignation will remain invalid for ever by creating a historic rupture in the papal succession.
Bergoglio, in the mean time, for his own part, has already signaled the future of his new-Church by nominating an avalanche of his “own” 80 cardinals, who, being in the majority, will shut the doors to the new Conclave. After the antipope, Francis, there would be no valid successor, as some traditionalists are pointing out. Moreover, an invalid conclave, composed by invalid cardinals, might elect another modernists antipope — o a fake orthodox one — and the Catholic Church, as we know Her, would be finished forever.
The synod, on the other hand, will be the great Catholic Counter-Reset, the red restart-button which will enable the Church to be purified — according to the intentions of Ratzinger — from corruption and heresy once and for all, by reconciling Europe and the West with their own Christian roots. And in the passage from one epoch to another, as he himself said to Seewald: “I belong no longer to the old world, but to the new, which in reality has not yet begun”. HERE https://www.liberoquotidiano.it/articolo_blog/blog/andrea-cionci/26699363/ratzinger-sottotesto-libro-intervista-ultime-conversazioni-peter-seewald.html
Here too, Benedict’s Plan “B” from Outer Space is utter nonsense. How, precisely, will all the crimes of the anti-pope “easily” vanish into nothingness? Even assuming, arguendo, that Benedict did fake his resignation, over the last eight years he has allowed the resultant anti-pope to fill key positions in the Church, and build his position of power and acceptance in the eyes of most Catholics, bishops, world leaders, and the media as the apparent “true pope.” There is no way that Benedict could “easily” pull off a reversal of this situation. Consider, Cardinal Burke could not get any Cardinal to speak out publicly and “correct” Francis in the wake of Amoris Laetitia — and that was nearly five years ago! Assuredly, the passage of time has not improved the situation, or the ‘correlation of forces.’ In the time since, there are even fewer cardinals and bishops friendly to either Cardinal Burke’s position, or Benedict. If those who remain were not courageous enough to speak then, how could Benedict expect them to support him when (if) he springs his trap?
The desperation of Catholics is understandable. The Francis pontificate goes from one train wreck to another, while the few good bishops and cardinals there seem to be content writing “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. Thus we get theories like “Plan B.”
Unfortunately, Benedict’s supposed Plan “B” from Outer Space is no better a plot than Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, and it is only slightly worse than most other BiP theories. In truth, it gives me no pleasure to say this. But, it is a shame that so much time is being put into most forms of BiP. It is a tremendous distraction, and worse still, a cause of division at a time when there should be unity among Catholics against the many evils which threaten and seek to divide the Church. That said, it does seem to me that part of the problem is that the few good bishops — which we do have — have not presented together a unified, coherent, and understandable narrative that explains our times to the laity at large; nor have they suggested a helpful, common course of action. Unfortunately, until they do and unless they do, we may expect such tales like Benedict’s Plan “B” from Outer Space, and the other standard BiP theories to find a hearing among faithful Catholics.
Had Benedict really stooped to such a harebrained plan, it would be disappointing beyond measure, and out of character for him. But I do think there is one thing that Cionci is onto, but I am sure it has been discussed by many others elsewhere. The years of Francis have brought the modernists out into the light, like so many cockroaches in a kitchen at midnight, caught when the light goes on. Should, or when we get a good, holy, and strong pope again, it will indeed be a target rich environment for him to clean house. The enemies of the Church are now more fully known today, and by name. However, how far out into the future this house cleaning within the Church will be is difficult to say. Francis has already appointed about 57% of vote-eligible cardinals for the next conclave. So, from a human standpoint, the prospects are dim that help is coming any time soon. However, God works miracles, and history is under His providential control, and the Catholic “reset” suggested by Cionci, will indeed come, one day.
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).
Updated: April 12, 2021. AM
- It seems to me that Ann Barnhardt and Br. Bugnolo are the originators of the basic BiP theory. In fairness to them, the reader should consult their library of articles and or podcasts and or videos as the case may be for their presentation of their individual theories in their own words. Unfortunately, increasingly, it seems, various BiP luminaries have a seeming propensity to accuse those with the temerity to object to their theories as being “liars” (e.g., here and here), financially motivated (see here), and even, it seems, part of an intelligence operation against BiP (see here). Such desperate appeals and use of ad hominems are never a sign of either a strong or winning argument. The preference of this blog has always been to address arguments, not “people” (see Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope)). Given the nature of some of the accusations, I have previously replied to Ms. Barnhardt’s accusations here: On the 8th Anniversary of the Election of Cardinal Bergoglio. As to Br. Bugnolo’s more recent accusations and or assertions, I point to my reply to Ann Barnhardt, and my Summa Contra BiP. As to some additional statements made by Br. Bugnolo about me, for the record, I am not a convert as he states–though I don’t see why that would matter even if I were! I am a cradle Catholic. As to being a former intelligence officer, I have long volunteered this fact, both in my About section on this blog, and on my PIA FIDELIS trilogy website (www.PiaFidelisTrilogy), and in greater specificity on the jacket of Book I of PIA FIDELIS: The Two Kingdoms. To anyone who has read this blog and has half a wit of common sense and rationality, it is clear I am not a “friend of Bergoglio” (e.g., see The Conclave Chronicles and Curiouser and Curiouser: Who Dispensed Jorge Bergoglio SJ from his vows?). Nor for that matter am I part of an intelligence plot against BiP.
- Roma Locuta Est has written many articles on the Francis pontificate, putting the lie to the claims of any who claim we are “defenders of Bergoglio.” For example, we have written a three-part rebuttal of Stephen Walford’s defense of Amoris Laetitia in book form (see The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’), which received a preface from Pope Francis (see Pope Francis, the Open Letter and the Pesky Preface). We have put together various compendiums of articles rebutting Francis’s apologists (see Here and Here). We have suggested several times there should be an imperfect council to examine the acts of this pontificate, something even admitted by one website that now stultifies itself suggesting we defend Bergoglio (see Here).
- For a BiP theory to be plausible, it seems to me, it must set aside the whole debate on the Declaratio. It must look instead to whether Benedict’s decision to resign was “free” or not. I discuss some of the problems and issues of this in a couple of articles (see Thoughts on Free Will and Hypothetical Papal Plots and The “we” in “We did it!” — and what they did). A couple things seems clear from a review of the known facts. There were those who wanted Benedict to resign, and thus may have plotted accordingly. However, barring some new revelation, the public record indicates Benedict is also clear that he resigned of his own free will–or at least that is how he views how he came to a decision. So, the hypothetical question is, is it possible a cabal conspired to get Benedict to resign in such a way, perhaps feeding him false information, or feeding his fears, etc., that Benedict believed it was entirely his own choice? The question is, in such a case, would such a plot that succeeded in ‘influencing’ Benedict to resign nullify the validity of the resignation? I don’t know. This would be a questions for the cardinals, theologians, and canonists.