The Case against those who claim “Benedict is (still) pope”

March 21, 2022 (Steven O’Reilly) – [Updated 3/23/2023] Over the last month Roma Locuta Est has published a series of articles focusing specifically on key documents related to the controversy surrounding the validity of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  Links to the articles have been grouped together further below to serve as a resource for those who are looking for arguments to rebut the Beneplenists, or for those who may be open-minded Beneplenists willing to see why Beneplenist arguments don’t work. Also note that these articles, plus additional research, form the basis of my recent book Valid? The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – The Case against the Benepapists (available on Amazon, or thru Barnes & Noble, and other book stores).

Between February 11, 2013 and February 28, 2013 there are at least four ‘Benedictine’ documents which are relevant to Benedict’s thoughts prior to his effective resignation, either touching directly upon it, or the conclave necessitated by his resignation.

Those who believe in the “Benedict is (still) pope” [BiP] theory only focus on Benedict’s Declaratio, and his last audience.  While we here at Roma Locuta Est do not believe either of these documents actually bear out the claims of BiP-ers (or Beneplenists) upon analysis; it is noteworthy that the Beneplenists ignore other documents or words of Benedict from before the resignation which their theories cannot reasonably explain.  As for one example, on the actually effective day of his resignation, 8pm on February 28, 2013; then Pope Benedict XVI told a group of Catholic pilgrims from Albano that as of 8pm that same night:

I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longerI am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

I have not seen any BiP-er/Beneplenist explain this. Its relevance is obvious as it encapsulates the essential issues of the entire BiP debate. The man elected by a conclave is asked if he accepts his election in these words:

No. 87. “When the election has canonically taken place, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the hall of election the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations and two Masters of Ceremonies. Then the Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff? And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: By what name do you wish to be called? Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses the two Masters of Ceremonies, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him.”

(Source:  Universi Dominici Gregis, 87, as amended by Normas Nonnullas, 87)

It is clear the man elected accepts his election “as Supreme Pontiff.” Thus, “Supreme Pontiff” must include the idea or concept of the Petrine “munus” upon which the Beneplenists rest their argument. Yet, as we see in the Pope’s comments to the pilgrims just hours before his effective resignation, he says as of 8pm, he would “no longer be Supreme Pontiff“, clearly indicating his intent to give up the papacy fully, without retaining any part of it (and not that that is even possible).  Quite simply, the Beneplenists cannot offer a reasonable explanation of how this fits into their various theories no matter whether they believe Benedict had unintentionally made a “substantial error” in his resignation, or whether they believe he intended one.

Roma Locuta Est has already published many articles rebutting aspects of the BiP theories (see Summa Contra BiP).  However, given the continued interest in the BiP theory, and the exceedingly rash steps some Beneplenists have taken of late (see discussion in A Suggestion for Beneplenists before it’s too late), I thought it would be helpful to once again take a close look at the key documents in question in this debate, including the ‘infamous’ speech given by Archbishop Ganswein in 2016.

Each document is considered in a separate article (links below).  The articles include a discussion of the document, and its import; then followed by a section for various Objections and the Replies to those Objections.

Here now follows the articles on the five key documents – plus a newly added appendix:

  1. Regarding Benedict’s Declaratio
  2. Regarding Benedict’s Normas Nonnullas
  3. Regarding Benedict’s comments to the Pilgrims from Albano
  4. Regarding Benedict’s Last Audience
  5. Regarding Ganswein’s speech


A. Lumen Gentium Destroys Benepapism in Toto

B. Br. Alexis Bugnolo’s Faulty Logic, and Faulty Comprehension with Respect to Canon 17

C. Regarding the “Ratzinger Code”

D. Benepapists and their false claims about Apostolic Blessings

If folks would like to submit additional Objections for consideration for additional Replies in the articles, please send them to me via email (my contact info is at the bottom of this article).

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 “The Case against those who claim “Benedict is (still) pope”

  1. Actually, that’s not quite what Benedict said on February 28, 2013. He actually said “I shall no longer be Pontiff Supreme” – a thing that does not exist. And there is a quite a case to be made that what he said was actually referring to the false conclave that would follow his non-resignation.

    Fascinating article here:


    1. Peter,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Cionci’s argument is absolutely ridiculous. In Italian, the placement of the adjective is more fluid than it is in english. You cannot tell me that the average Italian doesn’t know exactly who and what Benedict was talking about when he said “Pontefice Sommo” — or that the meaning differs depending on whether “pontefice sommo” or “sommo pontefice” is used.

      The term does not sound as strange to the Italian ear as “Pontiff Supreme” does to the native english speaker where the adjective comes first.

      Further, though not as common, one can find examples of the pope being called “pontetfice sommo” in the Italian language.

      As noted…Cionci’s argument is ridiculous. If we entertain it for a moment, Benedict was saying *after* 8pm that day he would no longer be the “Pontiff Supreme”…meaning clearly, he was “Pontiff Supreme” when he was speaking *before* 8pm. Okay. So what was Benedict speaking of, if not the papacy?

      The truth here is…the Benepapists are caught with their pants down on this. There is NO credible explanation — that’s why we get these inane tinfoil arguments that this is some sort of code used by Benedict. I responded to some of Cionci’s tinfoil arguments before. See:

      Benedict’s Plan “B” from Outer Space

      Benedict’s Plan B from Outer Space – the Sequel

      So, Cionci’s argument must be used by those Benepapists who believe Benedict *intentionally* screwed up his Declaratio. However, what explanation is there for the Benepapists who only believe the Declaratio’s supposed invalidity is the result of theological error on Benedict’s part — and not part of some master strategy at play? How does this second category of Benepapists explain away the Benedict’s words to the pilgrims from Albano?

      My suggestion is…toss these sorts of Benepapist arguments into a trash can. Unfortunately, the Benepapist movement seems to be moving in that direction, probably because of the holes in their case that cannot be otherwise papered over without claiming Benedict is playing 5d chess with the Church.



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