March 7, 2022 (Steven O’Reilly) – [Updated 4/28/2022] Roma Locuta Est‘s last few posts looked at the last acts and words of Pope Benedict XVI before his resignation on February 28, 2013. This was done to further underline that Benedict’s last acts and words as Pope, upon critical examination, do not support the “Benedict is (still) pope” (BiP) theory.
We have examined and responded to the BiP theory arguments related to the Declaratio (see Regarding Benedict’s Declaratio), and Benedict’s last general audience (see Regarding Benedict’s Last Audience). Even as we examined the exceedingly weak case offered by beneplenists in regard to the Declaratio and the general last audience, we also saw that BiP-ers exclude from their analysis of Benedict’s last acts what a document such as Normas Nonnullas (see Regarding Benedict’s Normas Nonnullas) might suggest about Benedict’s intent at the time of his resignation.
Yet, in addition to Normas Nonnullas, there are other words in the last hours of Benedict’s papacy which underline his true intent to fully resign the papacy — words that BiP-ers ignore completely. On February 28th 2013, one day after his last audience, and on the very day his resignation would become effective later that evening, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to Catholic pilgrims for the Diocese of Albano. Pope Benedict, briefly addressing the pilgrims, said (emphasis added):
Thank you. Thank you all.
I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your kindness, which does me so much good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me from the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still, thank you, I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity. I feel greatly supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing.
May Almighty God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!
Above, we can see that Pope Benedict earlier in the day of February 28, 2013 — just hours before his resignation took effect — explicitly stated he will “no longer” be the “Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church” as of that evening at 8pm, at which time he will become a ‘simple pilgrim‘ who is “beginning the last let of his pilgrimage on this earth.” This, of course, is consistent with what Benedict wrote in his Declaratio:
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry (ministerio) of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
As Benedict said in the quote from the Declaratio above, he is renouncing the ministry ‘in such a way’ that the “See of Rome, the See of Peter, will be vacant” and that ‘conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff” would now be necessary. Of course, an election for a “new Supreme Pontiff” is necessary, because — as he told the pilgrims from Albano, he ‘will no longer be supreme pontiff.’
Benedict use of the canonical term “supreme pontiff” clearly includes the munus/ministerium of the papacy. Indeed, the man elected to the papacy is asked “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?” (see Normas Nonnullas, 87). Once he accepts that election, “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. [NB: Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG), 88].
Note closely, upon his acceptance of his election, the one elected is “immediately Bishop of the Church of Rome,” and “true pope.” Therefore, by saying to the pilgrims from Albano that he ‘will no longer be supreme pontiff,’ Benedict — again — is clearly saying he is no longer the Bishop of Rome — he is no longer be “true pope.” Let that sink in. Benedict understood that as of 8pm on February 28, 2013 that he would no longer be the “true pope.” Further, given Benedict understood his successor would be the new “supreme pontiff” elected by the conclave (UDG, 88), Benedict also understood someone else would be the “true pope.” All this does not fit into the BiP theory.
Benedict’s words to the visitors from Albano cannot be adequately be explained by the BiP theory. They can only be ignored by the beneplenists. And, indeed, the leading lights of the BiP theory haven’t explained how Benedict’s words to the pilgrims from Albano fit into their theory. Perhaps those favorable to the BiP theory coming upon this Roma Locuta Est article might ask the leading beneplenists why such statements made by Benedict contemporaneous to his resignation don’t matter when trying to understand his intent; but the beneplenists’ dubious interpretations of works either written or edited by theologian Josef Ratzinger do matter (see Regarding Benedict’s Declaratio, see Reply to Objections 2.1 and 2.2 for examples of dubious interpretations offered by Ms. Barnhart and Dr. Mazza).
Again, how much clearer can it be. We have already seen in the analysis of the aforementioned documents (here, here, and here) that Benedict XVI truly intended to fully resign the papacy. So, by now, it may seem like beating a dead horse to even mention Benedict’s words to the pilgrims from Albano. However, this is a dead horse of a theory that the beneplenists insist upon straddling as it lay motionless on the ground. That might be harmless in itself, but the leading BiP luminaries continue to beckon others to follow them into claiming with them that Benedict is definitely still pope, and that Francis is definitely an anti-pope. Some have even launched a petition for Catholics (see here) to sign, in which the petitioners declare they “remain faithful to Pope Benedict XVI.” In addition, the petition, amongst other things, declares that any future conclave held under certain, specified conditions would be invalid. Such statements and initiatives are very imprudent. There is the real potential for a long-lasting schism.
That is why Roma Locuta Est continues to take an active interest in this topic, and comment upon it.
Objections and Replies to those Objections
Objection 1: “There is a “distinction between the quit “ministerium” and the retained “ministerium,” which clearly correspond to what would be an “active life” and a “contemplative life,” matches Benedict’s clam about the fact that Saint Benedict “showed us the way to a life that, active or passive, belongs totally to the word of God“, an allusion that at the same time seems to suggest the continuity between before and after the apparent resignation, as if both moments were nothing more than two phases of the same (even juridical) situation of devotion to God and to His Church.”
With the above in mind, we can understand Pope Benedict XVI’s words to the pilgrims from Albano on February 28, 2013; words which seem to have “confirmed the described parallelism” . Consider what Benedict said which confirms this parallelism (emphasis added):
“I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your kindness, which does me so much good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me from the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still, thank you, I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayer, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity. […]Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing.”
“It seems evident to us how Benedict remarks that he has retained the “ministerium” of suffering – which in this case he refers to as love (since loving always and necessarily implies suffering) – and prayer.”
Reply to Objection 1: The Objector’s analysis is rather remarkable; both for what it asserts, and most amazingly for what it fails to note.
The Objector (Estefania Acosta) hopes to establish a parallelism between the “ministerium” that Benedict quit, and the “ministerium” that Benedict retained; a parallelism she sees as spanning the Declaratio, the last audience, and with regard to the words under our immediate consideration, i.e., Benedict’s words to the pilgrims from Albano just a few shorts hours before his resignation. However, the parallelism is not what she imagines.
First, in the Declaratio, in the operative line with canonical force, Benedict specifically declares he renounced the “ministry of the bishops of Rome…in such a way the See of Rome, the See of Peter” would be vacant; and did not say he renounced some, and retained others. There is no such qualification to support the notion anything was “retained,” such as Ms. Acosta imagines. [NB: Also, see my article on the Declaratio, objections and replies, here].
However, in the Declaratio, Benedict does speak of not having the strength, etc., to fulfill the duties of the papacy. That he is certainly able to continue to pray, etc., does not impact his decision to resign! It is absurd to suggest that Benedict only resigned the parts he could not do, while retaining those less arduous components he might still do, such as prayer. This is a desperate argument which Ms. Acosta and Benepapists make.
With regard to the Benedict’s last audience, Ms. Acosta argues:
“There is a “distinction between the quite “ministerium” and the retained “ministerium,” which clearly correspond to what would be an “active life” and a “contemplative life,” matches Benedict’s clam about the fact that Saint Benedict “showed us the way to a life that, active or passive, belongs totally to the word of God…” 
The Benepapist arguments with regard to the last audience were rebutted in great detail in Regarding Benedict’s Last Audience. The Benepapists wrongly suggest that Pope Benedict XVI by his reference to Saint Benedict was speaking of a papacy that was “active or passive.” It is quite evident that Benedict XVI was referring not to the papacy, but rather quite literally to “a life” that is active or passive. Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI said of Saint Benedict that he “showed us the way to a life that, active or passive, belongs totally to the word of God.” Thus, overall, Benedict is speaking of his life which has will be changed by his resignation, from the “active” life he led as a pope, with all of its attendant duties, etc., to a “passive” life of prayer, reflection, and contemplation after his resignation, when he is no longer pope.
Now, having addressed Benepapist errors about any parallelism, we can now address the Objector’s points regarding Benedict’s words to the pilgrims of Albano, just hours before his effective resignation at 8pm. What is most curious, but really not surprising, is that Ms. Acosta passes over Benedict’s statement that he “will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church” in complete silence. Instead, Ms. Acosta skips over this section to try to support her erroneous thesis of parallelism by noting Benedict’s words later in the passage about “prayer,” “reflection”, “inner strength,” etc.
It is quite remarkable that our Objector could simply ignore the fact that Benedict stated he “will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church” — the central term of which, “Supreme Pontiff,” is the name of the very office Cardinal Ratzinger accepted upon his election in the conclave of 2006 (see Normas Nonnullas which amended Universi Dominici Gregis 87). How is it possible Ms. Acosta did not provide an analysis here of what Benedict meant by saying he “will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church“? The answer is evident to anyone with common sense. Benedict’s words are utterly incompatible with the Benepapist claims because, as these words clearly demonstrate, Benedict intended to fully resign the papacy!
By saying “I will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church,” it is undeniable at this point that Benedict fully intended to resign all associated with the papacy. As noted above, the very term “Supreme Pontiff” — the office explicitly accepted in a conclave by the one elected — undoubtedly bears within it the notion of munus which the Benepapists have proclaimed as so important. Yet, here, Benedict essentially said he will no longer bear that Petrine munus.
As incredible as it is that Ms. Acosta passes over this statement on page 58 of her book in silence, it is even more incredible that when one gets to page 70 of her opus, one finds a section entitled: “Has BXVI explicitly denied his status as “Roman Pontiff”?” After having literally typed Benedict’s words “I will no longer be Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church” on her word processor only 12 pages earlier; that she could ask this question and answer it ‘no‘ with a straight face is quite remarkable.
In sum, on February 28, 2013, just a few short hours before his resignation, Pope Benedict stated “I will no longer be Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church” at 8pm that evening – the time indicated in his act of resignation, the Declaratio, in which he said he renounced the “ministry of the Bishop of Rome…in such a way…the See of Rome, the See of Peter” would be vacant. There is no credible explanation the Benepapists can offer here. Instead, they ignore them, or seemingly divert attention from them by pointing to the ‘shiny object’ of supposed parallelism, or — as we will see shortly in Objection 2 below — they offer absurdities.
Objection 2: Pope Benedict XVI engaged in a “strategic ruse.” His words must be understood as having a surface meaning, and then an underlying meaning. He is speaking in a cryptic code, perhaps one we can call the “Ratzinger Code.” Of particular note in his words to the pilgrims from Albano, Benedict, speaking in Italian, did not use the proper title of “Supreme Pontiff,” or “Sommo Pontifice.” Instead, in Italian, Benedict said “Pontifice Sommo,” which strictly translated to the English is “Pontiff Supreme.” Thus, literally, Pope Benedict XVI said: “I am no longer the Pontiff Supreme of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.“
“The inversion between adjective and complement therefore prevented Pope Benedict – although he had already prevented him for 17 days – from lying by saying that from 8.00 pm he would renounce his canonical title of pope, which he never did…But beware: the construct of the sentence also takes on another meaning…Thus, Pope Benedict makes it clear that “he will no longer be a pontiff supreme” , that is, he will no longer be a pontiff placed in the highest and largest place , but will remain a hidden pontiff, a hermit, hidden under the nonexistent institution of the papacy emeritus. There will be someone else who will occupy the highest and largest place. To be precise, an antipope.”
Reply to Objection 2: The Objection above attempts to obscure the evident meaning of Benedict’s words, by claiming he is speaking in cryptic code that the Objector, Andrea Cionci, calls the “Ratzinger Code.” Estefania Acosta appears to share in part, at least a similar view to Mr. Cionci’s, i.e., that Benedict has been speaking “…more or less in a veiled way” in both “verbal language” and “deeds.” Regardless, while the standard Benepapist theory claims Benedict’s resignation was invalid due to a “substantial error” per canon 188; one due to Benedict having an erroneous understanding of the “munus”, etc.; there are those like Mr. Cionci who suggest Benedict intentionally sabotaged his own resignation to render it invalid.
Thus, in such a view, Benedict essentially sabotaged his own resignation, in a manner of speaking, as part of a plan for some greater purpose. Benedict did this, such Benepapists say, by using language in his Declaratio that would make it invalid. Let us allow Mr. Cionci to explain the outline of this plan in his own words (emphasis added):
“With a Church completely infected with the metastasizing globalist modernism subject to and placed under international pressure, Benedict decided upon a definitive maneuver, undertaken “to clean out not only the small world of the Curia, but rather the Church in Her totality”, as he will explain to the journalist Peter Seewald in 2016.
A “Plan B” worked out over many years precisely in view of an aggression against the Papacy from within the Church, and announced in many prophecies and in the Third Secret of Fatima, according to which Ratzinger was one of the few to be set apart by God for a special mission.
The Pope assembled in this way what could strategically be defined as a “planned ruse”, with a “false target” and a “feigned retreat” to cause the morale of the authentic Catholic population to be recharged and to definitively annihilate the antichristic forces in the bosom of the Church.”
Now, Mr. Cionci’s “Plan B” thesis that Benedict would essentially sabotage his own resignation is simply unbelievable, as I outlined in my Reply to Objection 5 in my article Regarding Benedict’s Declaratio. In addition, I explained the same in my initial rebuttal to Mr. Cionci’s “Plan B” thesis in a more detail article on that subject, entitled: Benedict’s Plan “B” from Outer Space. Briefly; despite protestations to the contrary by its lead purveyors, the “Plan B” theory, or any similar to it, would make Benedict a monstrous liar; a man, derelict in his duties, who abdicated his responsibility to “tend and feed” the Lord’s sheep (cf. John 20:15-17), leaving them for the last nine years to an anti-pope who could lead the Lord’s sheep astray — and to perdition. The theory implicitly argues that Benedict concluded it is was better to pretend to not be pope, than to actually serve as pope. It is an unbelievable theory, and it is utterly ridiculous. [NB: As an aside, my “Plan B from outer space” article occasioned a response from Mr. Cionci; which in turn l responded to in a second article (see Benedict’s Plan B from Outer Space – the Sequel)].
So, Mr. Cionci, and others believe Benedict has been speaking a cyptic language, or “Ratzinger Code”, all along, as if to lay bread crumbs for those wise enough to follow them, and to interpret him and understand what he has been up to. As Mr. Cionci says in another article:
“As always happens for the messages in the Ratzinger Code, there are TWO READING PLANS: the first is the superficial one, good for non-believers, the indifferent and all those who detest Pope Benedict, modernists or traditional-sedevacantists. There is always, however, some inconsistency that intrigues those who “have ears to hear”, as we have seen HERE and that pushes the Logos to work, the reason that discovers the truth.”
Yes, and as you might have guessed, the “Ratzinger Code” can only be deciphered by those who “have ears to hear.” If you’re a Catholic who finds this theory absurd, you are just not with the “reading plan” and must be among the ‘indifferent and all those who detest Pope Benedict, modernists or traditional-sedevacantists.’ The reality is, Benepapism is devolving here into something of a gnostic cult, e.g., speaking of hidden knowledge, and ‘people who knew.’
The Objector sees Benedict’s resignation as intentionally sabotaged by Benedict himself; and that he has been communicating all along via the “Ratzinger Code” to those who really understand what is going on. That established, how does Mr. Cionci’s explain away the Benedict’s words to the pilgrims from Albano, i.e., “I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff“? Let us examine first the words used by Benedict, followed by Mr. Cionci’s translation using his “Ratzinger Code”:
Pope Benedict XVI: “I am no longer the Pontiff Supreme of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.” (Source: here)
Mr. Cionci’s “Ratzinger Code” translation: “The inversion between adjective and complement therefore prevented Pope Benedict – although he had already prevented him for 17 days – from lying by saying that from 8.00 pm he would renounce his canonical title of pope, which he never did…But beware: the construct of the sentence also takes on another meaning…Thus, Pope Benedict makes it clear that ” he will no longer be a pontiff supreme”, that is, he will no longer be a pontiff placed in the highest and largest place, but will remain a hidden pontiff, a hermit, hidden under the nonexistent institution of the papacy emeritus.” (source: Mr. Cionci’s article)
Recall, in the Objection, the Objector made much out of Benedict’s “inversion” of the title. That is, according to the Objector, Benedict did not use the proper title of “Sommo Pontifice” in the Italian; but instead said “Pontifice Sommo,” which strictly translated into the English is “Pontiff Supreme.”
What to say of this “Ratzinger Code.” Certainly, to the ear accustomed to English, “Pontiff Supreme” does indeed stick out as very strange. However, in Italian, the placement of adjectives is more ‘flexible’ than it is in English. Consequently, a native Italian speaker like Mr. Cionci would probably be hard pressed to say the average Italian (1) would not know exactly what Pope Benedict XVI was speaking of when he said “Pontefice Sommo della Chiesa Cattolica;” or that (2) would discern a different meaning or office depending on whether one uses “pontefice sommo della Chiesa Cattolica” or “sommo pontefice della Chiesa Cattolica.”
Furthermore, it does not appear to be unheard for the pope to be referred to as “Pontifice Sommo.” For example, on Sapere.It, the #2 entry under “pontefice” reads (emphasis added):
“2) Titolo attribuito al vescovo di Roma. Usato un tempo anche per altri vescovi, con il sec. V divenne la denominazione ufficiale del papa: Gregorio Magno fu il primo a essere chiamato pontefice sommo.”
The entry translated reads (emphasis added):
“title attributed to the bishop of Rome. Also used once by other bishops, with the 5th century it became the official title of the pope: Gregory the Great was the first to be called ‘pontefice sommo‘” (i.e., “Pontiff Supreme” in a strict word-by-word translation, but really “Supreme Pontiff” in a proper translation).
Other online examples can be found. Perhaps “Sommo Pontifice” is the more common usage in the Italian; but that is a question I leave to the native Italian speakers to debate and decide amongst themselves. However, at least “Pontifice Sommo” does not appear to be unheard of when referring to a pope. The point is, Benedict’s use of “Pontifice Sommo della Chiesa Cattolica” is not some meaningless, bizarre turn of phrase that requires one to open a box of Cracker Jacks to find one’s secret decoder ring to decipher it! Benedict clearly was referring to his office as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. The attempt to appeal to a “Ratzinger Code” to deny the clear import of Benedict’s words is a desperate and absurd act.
Benedict said that after 8pm that day he would “no longer be the Pontiff Supreme of the Catholic Church.” Thus, if he would no longer be it after 8pm; obviously, he was it at the moment he spoke those words. Whether “Sommo Pontifice” or “Pontifice Sommo,” he could only have been referencing one and the same thing, that is, the office he accepted upon his election as Summum Pontificem or “Supreme Pontiff.” This office he clearly intended to resign at this hour of 8pm on February 28, 2013, as he indicated in his Declaratio, when he renounced the “ministry of the Bishop of Rome…in such a way that the “See of Rome, the See of Peter” would be vacant. If the See of Rome, the See of Peter is vacant, there is no pope. If the See of Peter is vacant, there is no Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Hence, Benedict’s words to the pilgrims of Albano, a few short hours before 8pm: “I will no longer be Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.” There is no other reasonable and credible conclusion.
[Before making a few final comments, I do note that I will update my original article on this question to now include the Objections and Replies above.]
The former pope, Benedict, just turned 95 years old. They say the health of Francis is waning. Who knows, but we may soon be faced with the deaths of one or both of them in relative short order. The shadow of a Benepapist schism is looming just over the horizon. A group of Benepapists have launched a petition for Catholics (see here) to sign, in which the petitioners declare they “remain faithful to Pope Benedict XVI,” as well as declaring that any future conclave must be held under certain conditions — presumptuously specified by them! — to be valid. Such an action is rash, and imprudent. It is utter folly. Such voices among the Benepapists are like the pied piper, leading others down a dark path toward an abyss.
The truth is, the Benepapists are caught with their pants down. To see how Benepapists either ignore, or attempt to rationalize away Pope Benedict XVI’s clear words — “I will no longer be Supreme Pontiff” — reveals much about the Benepapist approach to this whole controversy, and to the handling of “evidence” in particular. In other words, the Benepapist habit of superimposing their preconceived theories over every piece of “evidence” – and then reading out their conclusions from it.
In the example examined in this article, the Benepapists have no credible explanation for Benedict’s words. The best they can do is ignore the clear import of the words all together, or offer absurd, tinfoil-hat, gnostic theories such as the “Ratzinger Code.” There is no way to falsify such a theory; because even if Benedict were to say something against them, the leading voices of Benepapism would explain away his words as being part of the code, or in some “veiled” way! And indeed, they’ve tried to explain away Benedict calling such theories “absurd.” Are we surprised?
Benedict XVI is not playing out some grand “strategic ruse.” He is not engaged in some brilliant maneuver, nor is he playing 5D chess for the fate the Church. The sad, and unfortunate reality is he resigned; leaving us stuck in the catastrophic situation in which we now find ourselves. No amount of wishful thinking, or entertaining such fantasies as we’ve examined above will change that. For those tempted by the “Ratzinger Code” theory, or for those who have accordingly bought their box of Cracker Jacks; my advice to you is: ‘eat the Cracker Jacks but throw away the decoder ring.’ There is no “Ratzinger Code.”
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 GETTR, Parler, or Gab: @StevenOReilly).
 (Benedict XVI: Pope “Emeritus”? Estefania Acosta, p.58)
 Ibid. The quote from Benedict XVI in Ms. Acosta’s book, p58. Words in bold are underlined in Ms. Acosta’s text.
 See Andrea Cionci’s discussion of the “Ratzinger Code” here (see https://www.liberoquotidiano.it/articolo_blog/blog/andrea-cionci/29829255/trovato-clamoroso-messaggio-in-codice-ratzinger-benedetto-sbaglio-apposta-il-titolo-pontificale-in-mondovisione-da-castel-ga.html)
 (This objection is based on an article in Libero Qoutidiano by Andrea Cionci; see “Ratzinger Code”: found the most sensational of messages, worldwide from Castel Gandolfo, December 18, 2021). See also: https://sfero.me/article/ratzinger-code-the-sensational-messages-from
 (see Benedict XVI: Pope “Emeritus”? by Ms. Acosta, p. 73).
 (see here)