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

November 7, 2022 (Steven O’Reilly) – Last week, Roma Locuta Est published an article on November 4, 2022 which argues that Lumen Gentium demolishes Benepapism. That article may be found here: Lumen Gentium Destroys Benepapism in Toto. Now, coincidentally or not, Br. Alexis Bugnolo published on November 5 an article suggesting “no one has attempted to prove” Benedict validly resigned (see Pope Benedict XVI’s Teaching on Munus and Ministerium). Br. Bugnolo writes: 

The principal gratuitous assertion of those who hold that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Pope Francis, is that in renouncing the petrine ministerium, Pope Benedict XVI renounced the petrine munus, and thus opened the way for the canonically valid election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as the vicar of Christ.
This argument is gratuitous because, so far, no one has attempted to prove it. 

Now, this is nonsense. Various arguments have been offered and various people have proved it.[1]  So, seeing Bugnolo’s assertion, I posted the following in his comment box:

Brother, gratuitous assertion? Hardly.

Your readers may benefit from reading the following article:

https://romalocutaest.com/2022/11/04/lumen-gentium-destroys-benepapism-in-toto/

God bless,

Steven O’Reilly

Br. Bugnolo’s replied in the comment box on his site (www.fromrome.info) as follows:

“Stevie,

You know I normally do not let CIA agents comment at FromRome.info. But I cannot resist pointing out that you need to look at the Latin of Lument (sic) Gentium, and then you will see that your argument’s foundations do not exist. It is really pathetic how much you push against reality, when you cannot even read Italian or Latin and resort to lousy translations.

Here is the Latin, of Lumen Gentium, for reference. The word munus is all over it.

But, one cannot appeal to any Latin text outside of the Code of Canon Law, because canon 17 forbids that in cases where the Code is clear, as it is in canon 145, where alone in all the canons, officium is defined as a munus, not a ministerium.

But even if one could make such an appeal, saying, “Among all the cows of the field, the animal which rules them all is a bull”, does not mean that a bull is a cow. But if you want to think that, we can discuss your ideas on gender politics.”

Responding to the “Substance” of Br. Bugnolo’s Reply

In sum, Br. Bugnolo’s response is nonresponsive to my article and the argument therein, and is riddled with bad logic, and bad comprehension of canon 17.[2]  Let’s go through Bugnolo’s response point by point.  Br. Bugnolo writes:

But I cannot resist pointing out that you need to look at the Latin of Lument Gentium, and then you will see that your argument’s foundations do not exist. It is really pathetic how much you push against reality, when you cannot even read Italian or Latin and resort to lousy translations.
Here is the Latin, of Lumen Gentium, for reference. The word munus is all over it.
Br. Bugnolo is gaslighting.  Whether I can or cannot read “Italian[3] or Latin” is not relevant to my argument.  As to “lousy translations,” the original sources of the  Latin of Lumen Gentium in my original articles comes from the very same link Br. Bugnolo provides just above, i.e., from the Vatican website.  I provided the Latin of Lumen Gentium in the footnotes of my original article. If Br. Bugnolo had been attentive, he would have known this, and would not have made the comments he did. In addition, the English translation used in the body of the article was also taken from the Vatican website. Whether Br. Bugnolo considers the specific document on the Vatican website a “lousy” translation or not, I don’t know. But for public discourse and debate, and ease of use for the reader to find it, and read and follow along, it is certainly convenient, and sufficient.

In light of the above, in addition to being nonresponsive, Br. Bugnolo’s criticism is snarky, prissy, effete, and argumentative.

Now, with respect to Lumen Gentium, Bugnolo’s statement that “the word munus is all over it,” this too is nonresponsive with respect to my article and argument. I never denied munus appears “all over” Lumen Gentium. However, the point, and the argument Bugnolo tries to avoids is: Lumen Gentium teaches “a munus is a ministry.” This is fully supported by my citations, and the footnoted Latin text Bugnolo so often professes to fastidiously care so much about. Yet, Bugnolo does not respond to them.  Why?  He was welcome to construct any argument using the word munus “all over” Lumen Gentium to refute the argument — if he could really do so.  Yet, he doesn’t.  Why?  The reason ought to be evident to the reader.

Whether Bugnolo will try or not, he cannot credibly deny Lumen Gentium teaches a munus is a ministry. He appears to know this because he has instead attempted to gaslight his readers by bloviating about translations, and the “munus being all over Lumen Gentium,” trying to cover for the fact he is non-responsive to the actual argument.

Bugnolo does try to deny my article’s appeal to Lumen Gentium by citing Canon 17.  Bugnolo writes (emphasis added):

But, one cannot appeal to any Latin text outside of the Code of Canon Law, because canon 17 forbids that in cases where the Code is clear, as it is in canon 145, where alone in all the canons, officium is defined as a munus, not a ministerium.

Above, Bugnolo’s logic is faulty. Let us cite the actual canon to see where Bugnolo has gone off the rails (emphasis added):

Canon 17: Ecclesiastical laws must be understood in accord with the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful and obscure, recourse must be made to parallel places, if there are such, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.[4]

So, where has Bugnolo’s logic gone off the rails? The problem is that Bugnolo reads the second sentence of the canon to mean:

“if the meaning is unclear, one must consult parallel passages,
 but if the meaning is clear, it is forbidden to consult parallel passages.”

The second component of his “logic” is utterly absurd! That is, it is an unjustified and unreasonable conclusion to say it is “forbidden to consult parallel passages” in cases where the meaning is clear. Bugnolo’s conclusion does not follow from the antecedent “if” condition. This is fallacious reasoning.  Bugnolo has committed the fallacy of denying the antecedent.  Text book case.  Full stop.
Even aside from this, the logical negation of “there being a command” (e.g., “one must do something“) is most assuredly not a prohibition against doing it – it is simply “there is no command”, i.e., “one may or may not do it.” Thus, against the erroneous “logic” of Bugnolo’s position, common sense ought to instruct one that a proper understanding of the canon’s meaning, using actual logic, would be something like: “if the meaning is unclear, one must consult parallel passages, and if the meaning is clear, one may consult parallel passages.”

This common sense conclusion above is also well founded in canon law commentaries. There is nothing in canon 17 which forbids looking at “parallel passages” even if one thinks the meaning is clear.  That is obvious, common sense.  And, indeed, we find this affirmed in a highly-respected commentary on Canon Law (emphasis added):

“If the meaning of the law is not clear from the text and its context, the canon directs the interpreter of the law to make recourse to parallel places if they exist, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator. Actually, these additional steps are a necessary part of any thorough, scholarly interpretation of a law.  While examining the text and context of a law is usually sufficient for applying the law in practical situations, the process delineated in the second sentence of the canon is always necessary for good doctrinal interpretation. This more thorough examination and explanation of the law is illuminating even if the law’s meaning is not doubtful and obscure.”[5]

The highly-respected Canon Law commentary confirms the prior logical analysis, that even in the case of a “clear meaning,” the “process delineated in the second sentence” of canon 17 “is always necessary for good doctrinal interpretation.”

In the case of a papal resignation which is very publicly and aggressively disputed by the likes of Bugnolo and his ilk — who by their disputations might lead others into sin, error, and schism — this is certainly a case where looking at “parallel passages” is advisable. As the Commentary adds, “this more thorough examination and explanation of the law is illuminating even if the law’s meaning is not doubtful and obsure.”

As the reader can see, the Commentary suggests looking at “parallel passages” even if the law’s meaning “is not doubtful and obscure.”  There is absolutely no prohibition, as Bugnolo haughtily — and quite erroneously — asserted. So, in addition to witnessing Bugnolo’s faulty logic, we see that Bugnolo’s knowledge of canon law on this point is likewise seriously deficient.

Finally, let us continue, with this last bit from Bugnolo’s response;  Br. Bugnolo writes:

But even if one could make such an appeal, saying, “Among all the cows of the field, the animal which rules them all is a bull”, does not mean that a bull is a cow. But if you want to think that, we can discuss your ideas on gender politics.”

Aside from the gaslighting permeating his response, Bugnolo again uses faulty logic by employing a flawed analogy which bears no resemblance or even a remote correspondence to the matter presented in either Lumen Gentium, or the argument based on it which is presented in my last article.  Instead, Bugnolo opts to intentionally present a fatally flawed analogy, quite simply because the text of Lumen Gentium is impossible for him to address. Gaslighting.  Pure and simple.

I will not repeat the whole argument found in my article on this point, other than to repeat one segment of it here, which ultimately applies to the validity of Benedict’s resignation via his Declaratio.  Below, I cite a passage from Lumen Gentium which applies to my article’s argument.  I provide both the Latin and English from the Vatican website.

Latin, from LG 20:
…Constituerunt itaque huius modi viros ac deinceps ordinationem dederunt, ut cum decessissent, ministerium eorum alii viri probati exciperent. Inter varia illa ministeria quae inde a primis temporibus in Ecclesia exercentur, teste traditione, praecipuum locum tenet munus illorum qui, in episcopatum constituti, per successionem ab initio decurrentem, apostolici seminis traduces habent. (source: Here)

English, from LG 20
…They therefore appointed such men, and gave them the order that, when they should have died, other approved men would take up their ministry.  Among those various ministries which, according to tradition, were exercised in the Church from the earliest times, the chief place belongs to the office of those who, appointed to the episcopate, by a succession running from the beginning, are passers-on of the apostolic seed. (Source: Here)

Here, the principle is clear.  The apostles approved men who would “take up their ministry.”  LG 20 then explicitly says “among those various ministries” (Inter varia illa ministeria); “the chief place belongs to the office of those who, appointed to the episcopate…” (praecipuum locum tenet munus illorum qui, in episcopatum constituti).[6]

Given it is explicitly said a munus is “among those various ministries,” it necessarily follows a munus is a ministry.

My original article goes on to explain the relevance of this to the validity of Benedict’s resignation.  I invite the reader to ignore Bugnolo’s gaslighting, and go read: Lumen Gentium Destroys Benepapism in Toto.

Conclusions

The response above to Bugnolo fully suffices to defend my article against his lilliputian assault upon it.

  1. It has been demonstrated that Bugnolo committed the fallacy of denying the antecedent. The logic of canon 17 in no way suggests there is any prohibition which forbids consulting “parallel passages,” even when there is a “clear meaning.” Bugnolo is wrong. There are no ifs.  No ands.  No buts. Bugnolo has thrown logic under the bus to force the conclusion he wants to fit the theory he advocates, along with other arch-Benepapists of his ilk. Unfortunately, truth has been the casualty.
  2. A “Bugnolian” understanding of Canon 17 is the foundation upon which the entire enterprise of the Benepapist thesis rests.  However, as this article has demonstrated, Bugnolo and others have built on sand. His thesis requires that one is prohibited from looking at “parallel passages” outside of Canon Law if the meaning is clear.  However, we saw that when consulting a highly-respected commentary on canon law that it confirms, there is no prohibition against consulting “parallel passages” – contrary to Bugnolo’s false assertion.  In fact, the same commentary actually recommends consultation of “parallel passages” in cases of clear meaning, and even said this is “always necessary for good doctrinal interpretation.”  And, certainly that should seem to apply in a case where some claim, allegedly based on canon law, that a papal resignation is invalid.
  3. Bugnolo’s response was non-responsive to the argument put forward in my articleLumen Gentium Destroys Benepapism in Toto.  Even his analogy was fatally flawed.

In sum, Bugnolo’s reply was non-responsive to my article and the argument presented therein. The typical snarky, prissy, effete, and argumentative tone of Bugnolo’s gaslighting was further plagued by demonstrably bad logic, a flawed analogy, and poor comprehension of the canon law in question

Bugnolo’s readership should reflect upon the above. A “Bugnolian” reading of Canon 17 has been necessary and essential to maintaining the thesis that Benedict’s resignation is invalid. However, above, the basis for Bugnolo’s case has evaporated, shown to have been built on a foundation of sand. Given Bugnolo’s fatally deficient logic, and deficient understanding with respect to Canon 17; his readers would do well to at least question, if not fully reject Bugnolo’s attempts to defend Benepapism. 

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. He has written apologetic articles, and is author of Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms; and of Valid? The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI(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, TruthSocial, or Gab: @StevenOReilly).

Notes:

[1] Ryan Grant has written one article on the subject (see https://onepeterfive.com/benevacantists/).
Fr. Brian Harrison. “Is Benedict Still the Pope, ”Latin Mass Magazine, 2020.  Note:  I have not seen this article.
Steven O’Reilly: On our own blog, Roma Locuta Est, there are two summary articles which have compiled the links to multiple other articles written by the author: (see https://romalocutaest.com/2020/02/11/summa-contra-the-bip-theory-why-benedict-xvi-is-not-the-pope/, and https://romalocutaest.com/2022/03/21/the-case-against-those-who-claim-benedict-is-still-pope/). In addition, I have recently published a book defending the validity of Benedict’s resignation:  Valid? The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

[2]  A brief comment here on the ad hominem aspect of Br. Bugnolo’s rhetoric toward me in this and other screeds leveled at me (e.g., see Hey, leading Benepapists, “if you’re ‘ad hominem-ing’; you’re not winning”).  As stated before on my blog, I do not work for, I do not write for, I do not act on behest of anyone, anything, any group, any organization — government or non governmental – with any affiliation with any intelligence organization, etc. The bottom line is, I alone am, and I alone have only ever been responsible for the topics I choose to write about, and what I do or do not say about them. Yet, having said this before on my blog, Br. Bugnolo insists on portraying me as an active “CIA agent.” Doing so, he exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth. His intent is to damage my reputation. His insinuation is, at best, detraction, which is a grave sin against charity and justice.  It is not just me. Br. Bugnolo has a habit of making insinuations with anyone who disagrees with him, for example, recently questioning the “motives” of Mark Mallett, such as whether there is a hidden “masonic agenda” in play (see https://www.fromrome.info/2022/09/17/market-mallets-ridiculous-escapade-into-the-controversy-over-benedict-xvis-papacy/).  It is unseemly for someone who self-identifies as a “brother” to write, as he did: “so here is my take down” of Mark Mallet.  Brothers behaving badly.

Bugnolo’s continual need to resort to ad hominems only reveals the weakness of his arguments, which has been clearly demonstrated in this current article. He seems to grasp this point about the implication of ad hominems, as elsewhere Bugnolo has stated: “For as Aristotle says, when a man fails to have a rational argument for his position he begins with insults (ad hominem arguments)” (see Bugnolo on this HERE). Given he is aware of Aristotle on this point, Bugnolo’s lack of self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-understanding here is astounding, and indeed, appears to be without a plausible excuse.

Bugnolo’s constant use of ad hominems calls to mind something Br. Bugnolo once said: “…I observe the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi…As a person who has taken vows and who lives vows obliging me to keep the Rule of St. Francis…” (see https://www.fromrome.info/2021/03/27/a-response-to-schneiders-libel/). So, Br. Bugnolo affirms he is obliged to obey the Rule of St. Francis. Well, at least as I understand it, and I could be wrong, here is one of the rules he is obliged by vow to live by:

“I counsel, admonish and beg my brothers that, when they travel about the world, they should not be quarrelsome, dispute with words, or criticize others, but rather should be gentle, peaceful and unassuming, courteous and humble, speaking respectfully to all as is fitting.” (See Chapter III; source: https://ofm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/The_Rule.pdf).

[3]   In my recent back and forth with Andrea Cionci on whether “Pontefice Sommo” can be, or has been used as a term referring to the pope or papacy, Cionci — a native speaker of Italian — conceded the point to me that it is, even if Cionci qualifies them as “archaic” and “rare” usages, etc.  (see A Response to Andrea Cionci and his “Ratzinger Code”; the article also provides a link to Cionci’s article wherein he admits something he had not admitted before).  Thus, as “pontefice sommo” has been used a reference to the pope/papacy; then there is no reason to attach any bizarre interpretations to Benedict XVI’s use of the term.  The Ratzinger Code is fallen.

[4] John P. Beal, et al, eds., New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. Commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America, New York NY/Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2000.

[5] John P. Beal, et al, eds., New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. Commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America, New York NY/Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2000. p. 74-75

[6]  As noted in my last article on the topic, and in my book as well, this salient point and citation from Lumen Gentium 20 was brought to my attention by Fr. John Rickert FSSP.  Fr. Rickert’s bringing of it to my attention was indispensable in developing the argument which grew to involve Lumen Gentium 18. I am indebted as well to his general and specific  counsel and suggestions on Faith, Reason, and Theology as it applies to the matters before us in the controversy over Benepapism. I heartily recommend folks check out his book Visual Logic Seeing Classical and Modern Logic.

5 thoughts on “Br. Alexis Bugnolo’s Faulty Logic, and Faulty Comprehension with Respect to Canon 17

  1. I used to read Br Bugnolo’s blog FromRome. He has occasional good articles among the more outlandlish ones. But I could not take his nastiness towards such sites as lifesitenews, and The Remnant Newspaper. I did not realise he was having a go at Mark Mallet too. I don’t think sich nastiness is warranted. Why can’t he just debate reasonably. The Bible tells us that there will be a lack of love in the last days. And in her Japan apparitions our Lady told us that there will be Bishop against Bishop and Cardinal against Cardinal.

    Like

    1. Kath,

      thanks for your comments.

      I agree…I don’t see why he can’t just debate reasonably.

      All I can say is from my experience with him, It appears he takes it very, very personally when someone disagrees with a position he holds dearly — thus the personal attacks on his debate opponents in perceived retribution.

      The appearance is doubly worse because he says he has taken private Franciscan vows, the one I quoted in the footnotes to the effect to be gentle and not quarrelsome, etc. It reads:

      “I counsel, admonish and beg my brothers that, when they travel about the world, they should not be quarrelsome, dispute with words, or criticize others, but rather should be gentle, peaceful and unassuming, courteous and humble, speaking respectfully to all as is fitting.” (See Chapter III; source: https://ofm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/The_Rule.pdf).

      If he were in a regular religious order, he’d need his superior’s blessing on his writing activities — which would be a check on anyone, thus encouraging his better angel.

      But, he has no superior to check him…and he evidently cannot check himself, as we have seen.

      Thanks for reading the article.

      God bless,

      Steve

      Like

    1. Dan, thanks for the comment.

      Well, I wouldn’t call him a “fool” so as not to engage in the sort of ad hominem he does.

      However, Br. Bugnolo is definitely leading folks down a dark path, thinking him an expert on such things. But, as the article above proves, his logic and understanding as applied to canon 17 are simply wrong. Dead wrong.

      I tried to post the link to the article above as a response to his comment in the combox on his site, he will not allow it. He will not publish it. Nor has he attempted to prove the analysis above is wrong. The reason for his silence is obvious.

      His supporters who happen upon this article should ask him to respond. My guess is…he probably never will. Because he has no good answer. The fact he has no good answers is why he must repeatedly descend to the level of ad hominems. Sad to see from someone who professes to be a brother.

      Thanks,

      Steve

      Like

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