January 12, 2023 (Steven O’Reilly) – Until this past October, I only rarely checked in on the Benepapist goings on involving Br. Bugnolo and his website FromRome. However, beginning in October, things have begun to heat up quite a bit in the world of Benepapism, and some of his posts ended up being rather unintentionally funny — exposing, inadvertently, the absurdities of such things as the Ratzinger Code (see discussion in Ratzinger Code: “Don’t believe your lying eyes” and A Response to Andrea Cionci and his “Ratzinger Code”).
With the passing of Pope Benedict XVI it appears the tragicomedy which is Benepapism may be reaching a crescendo. Indeed, Benepapism appears something like a runaway freight train running of the track into a deep, dark ravine. For example, a couple of weeks before the death of Benedict, Bugnolo published an article that claimed that if the College of Cardinals does not convene to elect a new pope by 21 days after Benedict’s death, then the right to elect a pope devolves by Apostolic Right or Apostolic Tradition to the faithful of the city of Rome.
Bugnolo argued this in his article titled “RULES, REGULATIONS AND PROCEEDURES FOR THE ELECTION OF POPE BENEDICT XVI’S SUCCESSOR.” Given the audacious pretentiousness of the title, scope, subject matter, and tone of Bugnolo’s article; his article might be more readily considered something of a motu proprio (‘by his own authority’), and thus more deserving to be styled with a Latin title, as befitting a papal document. So, taking the first two words of Bugnolo’s title as they would appear in Latin, we decided to retitle Bugnolo’s document Regulas Ordinationes. To do anything less, would not do justice to Bugnolo’s grandiose effort. Tongue-in-cheek, I wondered at the time Bugnolo’s article was an attempt to throwing his hat into the ring as a papabile for the upcoming Benepapist conclave his “rules” envisioned.
In sum, Bugnolo’s Regulas Ordinationes was laying the basis for the faithful of Rome, laity included, to hold a conclave of their own to elect Benedict’s “immediate” successor — should the College of Cardinals fail to convene by day 21. For Roma Locuta Est‘s commentary on Bugnolo’s “rules” see Pope Bugnolo I?.
Bugnolo’s article was soon followed by similarly toned articles. See Roma Locuta Est‘s discussion of some examples here: The Tome of Alexis Bugnolo. Please read Bugnolo’s original (linked in article), and my commentary. In what I call his “Tome”, Bugnolo declares the College of Cardinals is ipso facto excommunicated. Further, he goes on to advocate a plan in which the Benepapists essentially form their own local ‘parishes,’ form their own seminarians, ordain their own priests, and even elect their own bishops! Having proposed several schismatic acts, Bugnolo somehow managed to keep a straight face by adding “All of this work, above mentioned, is the necessary step to defeat the Church of Schism” and “Pope Benedict XVI is calling us to be this anti-schismatic movement in the Church.” So, Bugnolo advocates leading others into schism to defeat schism.
With such foresight and attention to detailed planning in the articles that make up his “Tome”, and in consideration of his lack of awareness of his own pretentiousness in what he suggests; I began to rethink whether I should change my suggestion that Bugnolo was putting himself out there as a papabile from a “joking” suggestion (see Pope Bugnolo I?) to a “half-serious” one (see The Tome of Alexis Bugnolo).
Then, a few days ago, Bugnolo speaking of the deadline he set for the College of Cardinals, i.e., convene by day 21 after Benedict’s death or lose your right to elect a pope, Bugnolo asserted it was ‘”absolutely certain” there will be a new pope within the next 30 days‘ (see discussion in Bugnolo is “absolutely certain” there will be a new pope within next 30 days?). The implication clearly being, if the College of Cardinals doesn’t act, someone or ‘someones’ will in fact proceed ahead to a conclave of what he called “apostolic tradition” or “apostolic right.” See Roma Locuta Est‘s commentary here: Bugnolo is “absolutely certain” there will be a new pope within next 30 days?. This would mean, this Benepapist conclave could be held as early as this January 22nd, and a Benepapist pope elected by January 31st!
Just the other day, Bugnolo even issued additional norms for such a Benepapist conclave! This recent article was titled CANONICAL NORMS WHICH TOUCH UPON THE VALIDITY OF THE ELECTION OF THE ROMAN PONTIFF BY APOSTOLIC RIGHT; to which, I think, posterity might consider giving a more suitable Latin title: Canonicae Normae. There is no need to give a run down of Canonicae Normae, beyond saying, Br. Bugnolo again shows his great care in providing and describing the basis of various norms he has decreed for the Benepapist conclave of “apostolic right”.
I was working late on another writing project last night when I decided on a whim to see if there just might be something new on Br. Bugnolo’s website, FromRome. After all, as noted at the outset, his site has offered many examples of the tragicomedy which Benepapism has become. FromRome did not disappoint as Bugnolo had recently posted a new a video which he titled “BR. BUGNOLO’S WARNING TO THE CATHOLIC WORLD.” For the sake of brevity, and in keeping of our practice of latinizing his working titles, let us call it Br. Bugnolo’s Urbi et Orbi.
Bugnolo’s ‘Urbi et Orbi’ – The Introduction!
I will not give a blow by blow run down of the Bugnolo’s video. As it hops around somewhat, I will try to organize it more thematically. It must be seen to be believed, and experienced in full to be properly appreciated. However, I will try, here, to whet your appetite a bit and give you a sense of it.
First, Urbi et Orbi summarizes Bugnolo’s position that if the Cardinals do not convene within 21 days to elect a pope, they will forever lose the right to elect Benedict’s “successor.” Failing that, according to Bugnolo, the faithful of Rome, laity included, can then move ahead and elect Benedict’s “successor” themselves. This, according to Bugnolo, is the only way to have a “juridically valid election” of Benedict’s successor.
Conveniently for the faithful of Rome, Bugnolo has definitively ruled on the manner, rules, and regulations of this people’s conclave (see his ‘motu proprios’ Regulas Ordinationes and Canonicae Normae). His attention to detail is exquisite, down to declaring who is eligible to participate and vote — only residents of Rome, and declaring the requirements to be considered a “resident” of Rome.
Fortunately for the faithful of Rome, as luck would have it, Bugnolo meets all the qualifications of residency, that he himself defined. Therefore, rest assured. Bugnolo can attend this people’s conclave in Rome, and therefore, will be able to personally insure his conclave procedures are followed to produce the necessary “juridically valid election.” As an aside, Bugnolo has not said, to my knowledge, who would consecrate the one elected if he is not already a bishop. However, that detail will assuredly be soon addressed by him.
Bugnolo says upon the death of Benedict he drove to Rome to pay his respects to Benedict, attend public prayers for him, etc., and remained there seven days. However, he notes that the Catholics of Italy who “claim” (Bugnolo used his fingers to air quote here) to be in communion with Benedict XVI “didn’t do that.” Clearly, Bugnolo is unhappy with a great many Benepapists! He complains they did not organize any mass for Benedict, and that “they were told not organize anything.” Bugnolo says he tried to hold two meetings with Catholics in Rome to discuss what to do given the Cardinals were not acting to convene a conclave. However, he says these other Benepapists (the followers of Don Minutella) told folks not to attend those meetings.
Bugnolo informs us in Urbi et Orbi he has already sent a warning to the College of Cardinals since they have not yet begun to move on convening a conclave by day 21 to elect a “successor” to Benedict. Again, as I’ve noted in prior articles on this subject, it is not clear why Bugnolo cares what the cardinals do or don’t do, since he declared them in schism (see Pope Bugnolo I?) as well as being “ipso facto” excommunicated (see The Tome of Alexis Bugnolo).
With regard to the aforementioned warning, Bugnolo apparently organized an event to “reprimand” the cardinals for not moving to convene a conclave, and word was apparently spread in Italy about it. However, he throws leading Italian Benepapists under the bus for not attending. Bugnolo complains: “Did (Andrea) Cionci come? No, he did not come…Did Don Minutella come? No, he did not come…Did any people who call themselves followers of Don Minutella come? No, they did not go.” In fact, Bugnolo complains many of this latter group, people who “call” themselves followers of Minutella, told him “not to do it.” Bugnolo then says (emphasis added):
“…so there is something very strange is going on in Italy, and it’s the followers of Don Minutella are telling me and others at Rome not to take any action for the election of Benedict’s successor. And this is very serious because it is only the Catholics of Rome who have the right to act. If the cardinals don’t act, it’s only we alone who have the right to act.”
So, clearly there is a rift now between what we will now call the Bugnolan faction and the Minutellan faction. The Bugnolans are protective of the rights of only the faithful of Rome to elect a successor to Benedict, while the Minutellans seem to not be wed to the idea that only the faithful of Rome have that right.
More of that later. Let us return to the meeting Bugnolo organized to “reprimand” the Cardinals. Bugnolo says he ‘invited all the Catholics he knows in Rome’ to come. So how many came and attended? “Two came,” he said (2:26-2:51)! It’s not clear whether these were the only two Catholics he knows in Rome, or only the two he knows in Rome who could be bothered to come. Still, regarding them, Bugnolo curiously added, “one was from the city of Rome, but did not have the courage to get in front of the camera like myself.” Yikes, Bugnolo seems to throw this one Catholic under the bus for not having the courage “like myself!” But Bugnolo is on a tear in his video, throwing folks under the bus.
I note for the reader, Bugnolo has previously said when he made the rules for his conclave (see Regulas Ordinationes) that in order to convoke his conclave of “apostolic right” it is necessary for a cleric in the diocese of Rome to convoke it. Fortunately, he said he knows “at least two priests” who can do so (see discussion in Pope Bugnolo I?), i.e., Bugnolo knows at least two Benepapist priests in Rome. Only one being necessary, Bugnolo has a spare priest, just in case of an emergency. Consequently, should Bugnolo summon his council, we can at least say that two(?) of the Catholics he knows in Rome — technically he had said that of the two Catholics coming to the warning of the Cardinals, only “one was from Rome”; and two priests are likely to attend it.
Bugnolo’s ‘Urbi et Orbi’ — The Crux of the Matter
The central issue seems to be as follows, as I make it out. As said, Bugnolo holds that only the Catholic Faithful of Rome are able to vote for pope in a conclave of “apostolic right.” This has to be open, at least by invitation, to all Catholic residents of Rome, per the rules Bugnolo established (see Regulas Ordinationes).
Now, as I understand the video, it appears the Don Minutella faction wants to handle this conclave another way. It seems they want to have a group of their own supporters meet in Rome for a conclave. This conclave would be open to an unstated number of non-residents of Rome, a clear violation of Bugnolo’s rules (see Regulas Ordinationes). Bugnolo says this ‘conclave’ would not be as representative as the one he favors given Don Minutella likely only has 20 followers in Rome, and not the 500 some claim he does!
Bugnolo tells us he was called a “hothead” because of his position that only the faithful of Rome can vote in this Benepapist conclave, and for his organizing. He complained that some text or texts he had sent were redistributed throughout Italy by a supporter of Don Minutella to damage Bugnolo’s “reputation.” I have not seen these texts. But, I suspect they must be a hoot. After all, apparently, these are not someone else’s words that are alleged to have damaged Bugnolo’s reputation, but by Bugnolo’s own seeming admission, these are his own texts, his own words which have been used against him to damage his own reputation! What on earth did he say?
So, Bugnolo’s warning within Urbi et Orbi is essentially for Don Minutella’s followers in Rome and elsewhere to knock it off — if they want a “juridically valid election.” Indeed, at one point in his video, Bugnolo says, at the present point: “I am the only one advocating for a juridically valid election.” The reader should again recall that by “juridically valid election” Bugnolo means one that strictly adhere to the rules he has established (see his ‘motu proprios’ Regulas Ordinationes and Canonicae Normae).
Bugnolo seems to want to stake out the high ground here against the Minutellan faction. He says, the world’s ‘one billion Catholics have a right to a juridically valid election of a pope’ (i.e., again, as defined by Bugnolo’s regulations and interpretations), and that anyone obstructing that, i.e., Minutella’s followers, are NOT helping the situation. Then Bugnolo says with a straight face that “we have to get our egos out of the way here“!
Bugnolo affirms that he has told the Catholics of Rome that “all I want is a juridically valid election,” even humbly adding “I am not even going to vote for anyone because I don’t want anyone to accuse me of a conflict of interest.” It seems to me, this added touch of deep humility — along with having determined all the rules of conclave — might result in the Catholic faithful of Rome, i.e., the two Catholics Bugnolo knows(?), and the two priests in attendance, casting their votes for him to be pope!
Bugnolo in his video appeared to back off the 30 day timeline within which the next pope would be elected. He calls the situation “very grave.” If there is no successor, we will be without pope, the Church will break up, and it will be the end of Church on earth. Regarding this prospect, he adds, “I hope I am not the only one worrying about that.” Here, Bugnolo, in his plaintive self-pitying mode, seems to forget the Lord’s promise that the ‘gates of Hell would not prevail’ against His Church.
Bugnolo seems to suggest toward the end of the video that Minutella’s followers might be “controlled opposition,” even suggesting they are possibly doing what “freemasons would do” as this moment. Bugnolo tells us that the enemies of Don Minutella have alleged he has been “planning and plotting” to be elected pope by his small group of followers for three years. Bugnolo says he won’t say if he believes that assessment before adding, “but I have to look at facts.”
Urbi et Orbi — The End Result
In sum, the situation is this. Bugnolo believes a conclave of ‘apostolic right’ must invite ALL the faithful of Rome to a conclave to elect a juridically valid pope. To be a “faithful of Rome” one needs to be a resident of Rome — which as defined by Bugnolo — to include himself!
As I understand Bugnolo, it seems the Minutellan faction does not want any open invitation, and wants a smaller group to meet in Rome including some non-residents, and vote for a “pope.” But according to Bugnolo this would be juridically nonvalid since they would be excluding other Catholic faithful of Rome, and including non-residents.
So, it appears if events continue to develop along these lines, we could, theoretically, witness a situation where Don Minutella’s faction meets in Rome and elects a pope (possibly Don Minutella!), while other Catholics in Rome could conceivably hold a rival conclave that elects their own Benepapist pope. Who knows perhaps that might be Alexis Bugnolo! I don’t recall Bugnolo making any Shermanesque declarations, like, “if papabile I will not run, if elected I will not accept.”
We might even see Rome experience an increase in demand for white cassocks, and red shoes! How you ask? Well, within a matter of months, even weeks, we might conceivably see at least one Benepapist “pope.” It is even possible we might even see two rival Benepapist “claimants” to the throne of St. Peter elected by the Minutellan faction and the Bugnolan faction, a “Pope” Minutella and a “Pope” Bugnolo. Now, that might be worth the price of admission, to see each of them hurling their mutual anathemas at the other and their respective followers!
Such is the tragicomedy which Benepapism has become.
Again, there is some unintentional humor to be found in the writings of Br. Bugnolo. But, though I jest above and call attention to some of the absurdities, the unfolding of events is actually sad and tragic. Otherwise sincere Catholics have been led into error by the arch-Benepapists, who ought to know better. Let us pray they see the absurdity of the end point to which they are currently on path.
We at Roma Locuta Esthas have not been ‘fans’ of Pope Francis in the least. We’ve criticized the Francis-apologists, problems we have seen with this pontificate (e.g., Abu Dhabi, Pachamama, etc., etc.), and have even explored the oddities surrounding the conclave in great detail (see The Conclave Chronicles). Roma Locuta Est first looked into the “Benedict is still pope” theory hoping there might be something to it. However, it soon became clear the main theories offered by the likes of Bugnolo, Barnhardt, Cionci, Acosta, et al., do not work. It is clear Benedict XVI withdrew his will from being pope. Whatever the answer or explanation is to the last ten years of this pontificate, the authority to render any answer will come from the Church, and not from Br. Bugnolo, and company. It will come in God’s time from a future pope and or council.
For those Catholics following the topic of Benepapism, or who have been tempted by it; Roma Locuta Est has various resources which debunk the false and spurious claims of the Benepapists (see Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope), and The Case against those who claim “Benedict is (still) pope”). Also, my book which rebuts Benepapism was recently published (see Valid? The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI).
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).
 I critiqued Bugnolo’s canonical reasoning in Pope Bugnolo I?. For an egregious example of Br. Bugnolo’s interpretative approach to canon law relative to the ministerium vs. munus dispute, see Roma Locuta Est‘s article Br. Alexis Bugnolo’s Faulty Logic, and Faulty Comprehension with Respect to Canon 17.
 Andrea Cionci is an Italian journalist and author of the Ratzinger Code. One can read my rebuttals of his arguments in various articles on this site, also compiled in Summa Contra Andrea Cionci, Plan B, and the Ratzinger Code; or discussed in my recently published book rebutting Benepapism: Valid? The Resignation of Benedict XVI.