Debating whether Benedict is still pope

February 12, 2022 (Steven O’Reilly) – Yesterday, February 11, marked the 9th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he would resign the papacy, effective February 28, 2013.  To mark the occasion, Tim Gordon hosted a debate between Dr. Edmund Mazza and myself on his Rules for Retrograde podcast.  The debate resolution was “The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was invalid due to “substantial error.”  Dr. Mazza took the “affirmative” position in the debate, while I took the “negative” position.

The replay of the debate may be found here on Tim Gordon’s “Rules for Retrogrades” Youtube/podcast show.  Thanks again to Tim Gordon for hosting the debate, and to Dr. Mazza for the invitation to debate the question.

For the reader who might be new to RomaLocutaEst, my position and writing over the last several years on various “Benedict is (still) pope” (BiP) theories may be found compiled in the Summa Contra BiP.  I have also written on some of the curiosities and ‘unsolved mysteries’ surrounding the 2013 conclave, as well as Benedict’s resignation (see The Conclave Chronicles).

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  or (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on GETTR, Parler, or Gab: @StevenOReilly).

4 thoughts on “Debating whether Benedict is still pope

  1. Dear Mr. O’Reilly. Great job in the debate. For me, the major weakness of the Dr Mazza side is the requirement that for their argument to make sense it must attribute motives and goals to Pope Benedict that he does not necessarily have.

    Maybe next time they could hire a Haruspex to prove their claims.


  2. I watched the debate. It was a good debate. Both sides respected the rules and were charitable to each other. I thought both sides did well in presenting their positions. I came into the debate with your position and remain so but I will say that Dr. Mazza did a good job and did not come off as some kind of a nutjob. I am very sympathetic to people who are so scandalized by Pope Francis that they are reaching conclusions that would have sounded crazy 10 years ago. I am very unsympathetic to those that think Pope Francis behavior is nothing to be concerned about and that all these people who believe Pope Benedict is still Pope are a bunch of nutjobs.


    1. Claudio,

      thank you for watching the debate, and for your comments. I am pretty confident that you, me, and Dr. Mazza would agree there are MANY concerns regarding Pope Francis. Of that, I have no doubt. Certainly, if you watched the debate, and the Q&A period till the end, you would have had a taste of that. My great concern is that all of us need to keep in mind, we as lay men are not judges. What Benedict or Francis is or is not is ultimately for the Church to decide. Unfortunately, two or three leading BiP-ers or beneplenists are potentially leading folks into a schism should certain conditions arise.

      The above said, regarding the BiP or “beneplenist” positions, as I said in the debate last Friday, I think — sincerely — the leading BiP-ers or beneplenists should formulate their top 5-10 questions they’d ask Benedict to satisfy their doubts. I can imagine what some of those questions might be, but that is for ‘them’ to decide.

      I think this is important so that a possible cause of a future schism be headed off. The way Benedict handled the resignation was poor, as I said in the debate, e.g., wearing white, etc. Benedict has himself — unfortunately — given rise to some of the doubts (Francis is another major cause).

      Therefore, it behooves Benedict to remove the cause of as many doubts as he possibly can before he dies. Given the moral sense of responsibility he himself has said he has toward his ‘sons and daughters’ in his last audience, as well as in the Seewald interviews…I definitely think he should answer such questions.

      All the above is not to say I personally harbor the same doubts, but I recognize others sincerely do…and, therefore, if it is in his power to dispel such doubts, Benedict has a definite moral responsibility in my view to dispel them.

      So again, I really think the likes of Dr. Mazza, Estefania Acosta, Ann Barnhardt, Br. Bugnolo, and Patrick Coffin, and other leading BiP-ers or beneplenists should work together and formulate the essential 5-10 questions that would satisfy them of the validity of Benedict’s resignation.

      Perhaps they should even attach a petition of signatures of the faithful, appealing to Benedict to respond for the good of the Church.

      I have no doubt they could get such questions to Peter Seewald, Ganswein, or whomever as necessary through various lines of communication (I’d be happy to help with some suggestions), to submit them directly to Benedict. Now is the time to do it…while Benedict still lives.

      Again, thanks for watching the debate.

      God bless,



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