First theory of “substantial error:”
The “collegial or synodal Papacy”
This theory maintains that Benedict’s Declaratio was invalid because he mistakenly believed that he could “expand” the pontificate, to the point of creating a papal diarchy that would be made up of himself and his “successor.” In short, Benedict would have mistakenly thought that he could substantially or essentially transform the Papacy, in order to make way for the coexistence of “two Popes”[i].
What evidence is offered in support of this alleged Benedict’s misperception regarding the pontificate?
First, the doctoral thesis of J. Michael Miller (now the archbishop of Vancouver, BC) titled, “The Divine Right Of the Papacy In Recent Ecumenical Theology” (Rome: Gregorian University, 1980. 324p)[ii], contains, among other things, post-conciliar theological reflections on the primacy of the Pope, in authors such as Hans Kung, Johannes Neumann, Walter Kasper, Karl Rahner, and Joseph Ratzinger. In this work, we are told, there are theological discussions about the possibility of either abolishing or substantially transforming the Papacy. As “abolitionists,” or authors of the far left, there would be Kung and Neumann; Kasper and Rahner would be “transformationalists” or moderate/centrist authors; and Ratzinger would be located on the right or far right[iii].
The essence of this book, we are informed, is an apology in favor of “demythologizing” the Papacy, for the sake of advancing in the ecumenical dialogue, to the point that in its conclusions there are recommendations such as abandoning the term “ius divinum” in what concerns the Papacy, avoid the word “Primacy,” consider that the Papal ministry should not necessarily be exercised in the future as it has been done in the past or is done in the present etc.[iv]
As for the quotes from Ratzinger that Miller inserts in his thesis, two are specifically referred to us. The first would be footnote 105 on page 196, inserted after the following paragraph:
“Secondly, other proposals concern the need for changes in the way in which primatial authority is exercised: from a monarchical or centralist model to a more collegial and decentralized one104. Thirdly, an important change in the papacy would occur if the process was clarified by which Rome has united under a single title its unique primacy originating from a special apostolic charge conferred by Christ, and its administrative role for the Western Church originating from its patriarchal status. The pope has not adequately distinguished his exercise of Petrine authority from patriarchal authority105” [105 Ratzinger, Il nuovo popolo di Dio, 2nd ed. (Brescia: Queriniana, 1972) 144-146; and Ratzinger, “Primat”, 762-763….][v] [The bold is ours].
The second reference to Ratzinger is found in footnote 55, page 184:
“”Patrick J. Burns in “Communion, Councils, and Collegiality: Some Catholic Reflections,” in Papal Primacy and the Universal Church, 171, states: “Current historical research on the origins of Roman primacy and episcopal collegiality will inevitable produce more qualified Catholic interpretations of the canons of Vatican I.” Ratzinger takes a somewhat different approach. With the Orthodox, Rome need not demand more than the way papal primacy was understood in the first millennium. The East must cease rejecting as heretical the subsequent Western development and admit that the Catholic Church is legitimate and orthodox under the form it has taken in the Latin West, whereas the West would recognize the Eastern Church as legitimate and orthodox under the form it has taken. In this way the formulations of Pastor Aeternus are bypassed and no longer present a problem. See his, “Prognostics sur l’avenir de l’oecumenisme,” Proche-Orient Chretien 26 (1976) 214-215, or the English summary in T[heological] D[igest] 25 (1977) 202-203. Cf. A[ugustin]. Schmeid’s agreement with Ratzinger in „Das Papsttum im okumenischen Gesprach, „Theologie der Gegenwart 21 (1978) 170“[vi] [The bold is from the original text].
As a comment on all the above, we are told:
“WITHIN THE SPECTRUM of these theologians [Kung, Rahner et. al], Joseph Ratzinger was actually on the more conservative side, which is damning with faint praise, indeed. There was OPEN TALK in this circle about the ABOLITION OF THE PAPACY OUTRIGHT by Kung, Rahner, Neumann and others. Ratzinger denied this possibility of total abolition, but did argue that the Papacy was NOT immutable (unchangeable), could be changed, and could be ‘synodalized’ along the lines of Petrine Office vs. Ministry AND along the lines of Petrine vs. Patriarchal“[vii] [bold and bracketed texts are ours].
Honestly, we do not see how the transcribed lines could show that, according to Ratzinger’s conception, the coexistence of several Popes would be juridically and theologically admissible. If anyone sees it, please illuminate us.
Now, such an illumination might seem inane in light of what follows:
As further “proof” of Benedict’s “substantial error” in his Declaratio, we are told that
“In 1978 Joseph Ratzinger considered hypothesis that a monarchical Papacy was intrinsically ‘Arian’ in nature, and the Papacy should reflect the Trinity, a ‘Pope-Troika’ consisting of One Catholic, One Protestant and One Orthodox, ‘through which the papacy, the chief annoyance of non-Catholic Christendom, must become the definitive vehicle for the unity of all Christians’”[viii].
This idea would have been defended by Ratzinger in his article “The Primacy of the Pope and the Unity of the People of God,”[ix] of which we are provided with the following fragments[x] [the bold is ours, the underlines are from the original]:
“I. THE SPIRITUAL BASIS FOR PRIMACY AND COLLEGIALITY
The papacy is not one of the popular topics of the post-conciliar period. To a certain extent it was something self-evident as long as the monarchy corresponded to it in the political realm. Ever since the monarchic idea became extinct in practice and was replaced by the democratic idea, the doctrine of papal primacy has lacked a point of reference within the scope of our common intellectual assumptions. So it is certainly no accident that the First Vatican Council was dominated by the idea of primacy while the Second was characterized mainly by the struggle over the concept of collegiality. Of course, we should immediately add that, in adopting the idea of collegiality (along with other initiatives from contemporary life), the Second Vatican Council sought to describe it in such a way that the idea of primacy was contained within it. Today, now that we have gained a little experience with collegiality, its value and also its limitations, it looks as though we have to start again precisely at this place in order to understand better how these seemingly contrary traditions belong together and thus to preserve the richness of the Christian reality.
- Collegiality as the expression of the “we” structure of the faith
In connection with the conciliar debate, theology had tried, in due course, to understand collegiality as something more than a merely structural or functional feature: as a fundamental law that extends into the innermost essential foundations of Christianity and that therefore appears in various ways on the individual levels of Christianity as it is actually put into practice. It was possible to demonstrate that the “we” structure was part of Christianity in the first place. The believer, as such, never stands alone: to become a believer means to emerge from isolation into the “we” of the children of God; the act of turning to the God revealed in Christ is always a turning also to those who have already been called. The theological act as such is always an ecclesial act, which also has a characteristically social structure.
Hence initiation into Christianity has always been socialization into the community of believers as well, becoming “we,” which surpasses the mere “I.” Accordingly, Jesus called his disciples to form the Twelve, which recalls the number of tribes in the ancient People of God, an essential feature of which, in turn, is the fact that God creates a communal history and deals with his people as a people. On the other hand, the most profound reason for this “we” character of Christianity proved to be the fact that God himself is a “we:” the God professed in the Christian Creed is not a lonely self-reflection of thought or an absolutely and indivisibly self-contained “I” but rather he is unity in the trinitarian relation of I-you-we, so that being “we,” as the fundamental form of divinity, precedes all worldly instances of “we,” and the image and likeness of God necessarily refers to such being “we” from the very beginning.
In this connection, a treatise by E. Peterson on “Monotheism as a Political Problem,” which had been largely forgotten, again became a matter of current interest. In it, Peterson tried to show that Arianism was a political theology favored by the emperors because it ensured a divine analogy to the political monarchy, whereas the triumph of the trinitarian faith exploded political theology and removed the theological justification for political monarchy. Peterson interrupted his presentation at this point; now it was taken up again and continued with a new analogous thought, the basic thrust of which was: God’s “we” must be the model for the action of the Church as a “we.” This general approach, which can be interpreted in various ways, was in a few cases taken so far as to claim that, accordingly, the exercise of the primacy by a single man, the pope in Rome, actually follows an Arian model. In keeping with the three Persons in God, the argument went, the Church must also be led by a college of three, and the members of this triumvirate, acting together, would be the pope. There was no lack of ingenious speculations that (alluding, for instance, to Soloviev’s story about the Antichrist) discovered that in this way a Roman Catholic, an Orthodox, and a Protestant together could form the papal troika. Thus it appeared that the ultimate formula for ecumenism had been found, derived immediately from theology (from the concept of God), that they had discovered a way to square the circle, whereby the papacy, the chief stumbling block for non-Catholic Christianity, would have to become the definitive vehicle for bringing about the unity of all Christians.”
And here is the comment that arises from this quote:
“[…] we see Joseph Ratzinger taking this SUBSTANTIALLY ERRONEOUS MADNESS so far as the say that the Petrine Ministry could eventually include NON-CATHOLICS and thus become the “definitive vehicle for the unity of all Christians.” But first, it has to be “expanded” into a ‘collegial, synodal ministry’ “[xi].
Now, actually… Joseph Ratzinger in no way welcomes, endorses or defends such “substantially erroneous madness”! He is presenting it as someone else’s argument, not his own. Ratzinger points out that “there were speculations” [not on his part] “that discovered” [again in the third person, not in the first person] the possibility of a “Papal troika” and thus implied that “they [the speculators, not Ratzinger himself] had discovered a way to square the circle” regarding the Papacy. The real madness, the real “substantial error,” is to attribute to Ratzinger an idea that is obviously alien to him!
And besides, the remaining lines of Ratzinger’s writing are specifically dedicated to dismantling this crazy idea of a “Papal troika,” under the argumentative line that the “we” of believers does not suppress the “I” nor the “personal responsibility” and, therefore, the unipersonal structure of the Papacy need not be considered as opposed or incompatible with the collective structure of faith – nor with the Trinitarian character of God, Who is in any case personal in nature! Let us see, in fact, a few more fragments [bold and underlining will be ours]:
“2. The interior basis for the primacy: Faith as responsible personal witness
Is this, then—the reconciliation of collegiality and primacy—the answer to the question posed by our subject: the primacy of the pope and the unity of the People of God? Although we need not conclude that such reflections are entirely sterile and useless, it is plain that they are a distortion of trinitarian doctrine and an intolerably oversimplified fusion of Creed and Church polity. What is needed is a more profound approach. It seems to me that it is important, first of all, to reestablish a clearer connection between the theology of communion, which had developed from the idea of collegiality, and a theology of personality, which is no less important in interpreting the biblical facts. Not only does the communal character of the history created by God belong to the structure of the Bible, but also and equally personal responsibility. The ‘we’ does not dissolve the ‘I’ and ‘you,’ but rather it confirms and intensifies them so as to make them almost definitive. This is evident already in the importance that a name has in the Old Testament—for God and for men. One could even say that in the Bible ‘name’ takes the place of what philosophical reflection would eventually designate by the word ‘person.’ Corresponding to God, who has a name, that is, who can address others and be addressed, is man, who is called by name in the history of revelation and is held personally responsible. This principle is further intensified in the New Testament and attains its fullest, deepest meaning through the fact that now the People of God is generated, not by birth, but rather by a call and a response. Therefore it is no longer a collective consignee as before, when the whole people functioned as a sort of corporate individual vis-à-vis world history, in collective punishment, in collective liability, penance, and pardon. The ‘new people’ is characterized also by a new structure of personal responsibility, which is manifest in the personalizing of the cultic event: from now on everyone is named by name in penance and, as a consequence of the personal baptism that he received as this particular person, is also called by name to do personal penance, for which the general ‘we have sinned’ can no longer be an adequate substitute. Another consequence of this structure is, for example, the fact that the liturgy does not simply speak about the Church in general but presents her by name in the Canon of the Mass: with the names of the saints and the names of those who bear the responsibility for unity. […]
It is in keeping with this personal structure, furthermore, that in the Church there has never been anonymous leadership of the Christian community. Paul writes in his own name as the one ultimately responsible for his congregations. But again and again he addresses by name those also who hold authority with him and under him […]. Along these same lines, lists of bishops were compiled already at the beginning of the second century (Hegesippus) so as to emphasize for the historical record the particular and personal responsibility of those witnesses to Jesus Christ. This process is profoundly in keeping with the central structure of the New Testament faith: to the one witness, Jesus Christ, correspond the many witnesses who, precisely because they are witnesses, stand up for him by name. Martyrdom as a response to the Cross of Jesus Christ is nothing other than the ultimate confirmation of this principle of uncompromising particularity, of the named individual who is personally responsible.
Witness implies particularity, but witness—as a response to the Cross and Resurrection—is the primordial and fundamental form of Christian discipleship in general. In addition, however, even this principle is anchored in the very belief in the triune God, for the Trinity becomes meaningful for us and recognizable in the first place through the fact that God himself, in his Son as man, became a witness to himself, and thus his personal nature took concrete form even unto the radical anthropomorphism of the ‘form of a servant,’ of ‘the likeness of men’ (µoρφἡ δoύλoυ, ὁµoἰωµα ἀνθρώπoυ: Phil 2:7).
The Petrine theology of the New Testament is found along this line of reasoning, and therein it has its intrinsically necessary character. The ‘we’ of the Church begins with the name of the one who in particular and as a person first uttered the profession of faith in Christ: ‘You are . . . the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:16). Curiously, the passage on primacy is usually thought to begin with Matthew 16:17, whereas the early Church regarded verse 16 as the decisive verse for an understanding of the whole account: Peter becomes the Rock of the Church as the bearer of the Credo, of her faith in God, which is a concrete faith in Christ as the Son and by that very fact faith in the Father and, thus, a trinitarian faith, which only the Spirit of God can communicate. The early Church viewed verses 17–19 as simply the explanation of verse 16: To recite the Creed is never man’s own work, and thus the one who says in the obedience of the profession of faith what he cannot say on his own can also do and become what he could not do and become by his own resources. This perspective does not include the “either-or” that was first suggested in Augustine and has dominated the theological scene since the sixteenth century, when the alternative was formulated: Is Peter as a person the foundation of the Church, or is his profession of faith the foundation of the Church? The answer is: The profession of faith exists only as something for which someone is personally responsible, and hence the profession of faith is connected with the person. Conversely, the foundation is not a person regarded in a metaphysically neutral way, so to speak, but rather the person as the bearer of the profession of faith—one without the other would miss the significance of what is meant.
Leaving out many intermediate steps in the argument, we can say, then: The ‘we’ unity of Christians, which God instituted in Christ through the Holy Spirit under the name of Jesus Christ and as a result of his witness, certified by his death and Resurrection, is in turn maintained by personal bearers of responsibility for this unity, and it is once again personified in Peter—in Peter, who receives a new name and is thus lifted up out of what is merely his own, yet precisely in a name, through which demands are made of him as a person with personal responsibility. In his new name, which transcends the historical individual, Peter becomes the institution that goes through history (for the ability to continue and continuance are included in this new appellation), yet in such a way that this institution can exist only as a person and in particular and personal responsibility.”
The institution of the Papacy can only exist as a person, says Joseph Ratzinger. Where, then, is his ‘substantial error’ about the possible ‘collegiate or synodal’ conformation of the primatial office?
But let us not stop here. Because we have received other ‘proof’ of such ‘substantial error.’ This time it is Peter Seewald’s book-length interview, Salt of the Earth[xii], and specifically, the following question-answer between the interviewer and Joseph Ratzinger (p.189) [the text in square brackets and bold will be ours, the underlining will belong to the person who defends the “substantial error”[xiii]]:
“[Q] Do you think the Papacy will remain as it is now?
[A] In its core, it will remain the same. That is, there will always be a need for a man who is the successor to St. Peter, and the person holding the ultimate responsibility, in support of collegiality. Having a personal principle so that everything is not hidden in anonymity, and that it is represented in the person of the parish priest, or the bishop, who are the expression of unity in the whole of the Church, is typical of the nature of Christianity. That will always remain the same, as it was defined in Vatican Councils I and II, as the responsibility of the Magisterium for the unity of the church, her faith and her moral order. The ways of doing this can change, if the hitherto separate communities are brought into unity with the Pope. For now, the pontificate of our current Pope, with all his trips around the world, is already completely different from that of Pope Pius XII. But I cannot anticipate anything, nor do I want to do so with respect to the variations that may occur in the future. We cannot foresee what may happen in the future.”
Again we ask: from what part of these lines does Ratzinger’s supposed mistaken conviction that the Papacy can be collegial come off? In his answer he states, in fact, quite the opposite! Namely: a man (in the singular) as the successor of Saint Peter, the person holding the ultimate responsibility (again in the singular), in total harmony with the perspective of the intimate connection that exists in the Catholic faith between the personal and the collective, and with the permanence of the dogma declared at Vatican I, and reiterated in Vatican II, on the necessary singularity of the primacy. That the forms of exercise of the Papacy can change does NOT mean that it can assume a collegial character, or be transformed in its essential aspects (dogmatic, of divine law). In fact, the change between the papal style of John Paul II and that of Pius XII, referred to by Ratzinger, in no way touches this essential immutable aspect. From where, then, is a “substantial error” extracted?
As if the above were not enough, in the document The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church of October 31, 1998, prepared by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence reiterates emphatically the dogma of the Church on the Primacy of Peter:
“[…] the image of Peter remained fixed as that of the Apostle who, despite his human weakness, was expressly assigned by Christ to the first place among the Twelve and was called to exercise a distinctive, specific task in the Church. He is the rock on which Christ will build his Church; he is the one, after he has been converted, whose faith will not fail and who will strengthen his brethren; lastly, he is the Shepherd who will lead the whole community of the Lord’s disciples”[xiv].
Note that Ratzinger, when speaking of Peter, always uses the singular: “the Apostle, the rock, the Shepherd, the first place, will not fail, will strengthen, will lead.” And this is abundantly confirmed later, even with explicit reference to the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus of Vatican Council I:
“[…] the ministry of unity entrusted to Peter belongs to the permanent structure of Christ’s Church […] In the divine plan for the primacy as “the office that was given individually by the Lord to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be handed on to his successor,” we already see the purpose of the Petrine charism, i.e., “the unity of faith and communion” [16: First Vatican Council, Dogm. Const. Pastor aeternus, Prologue: Denz-Hun, n. 3051. Cf. St Leo I the Great, Tract. in Natale eiusdem, IV, 2: CCL 138, p. 19] of all believers. The Roman Pontiff, as the Successor of Peter, is ‘the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity both of the Bishops and of the multitude of the faithful’ and therefore he has a specific ministerial grace for serving that unity of faith and communion which is necessary for the Church to fulfil her saving mission. […] collegiality does not stand in opposition to the personal exercise of the primacy nor should it relativize it. All the Bishops are subjects of the sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum as members of the Episcopal College which has succeeded to the College of the Apostles, to which the extraordinary figure of St Paul also belonged. This universal dimension of their episkope (overseeing) cannot be separated from the particular dimension of the offices entrusted to them. In the case of the Bishop of Rome – Vicar of Christ in the way proper to Peter as Head of the College of Bishops – the sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum acquires particular force because it is combined with the full and supreme power in the Church […].”
Let us now continue with what is presented as the last support of the first theory of “substantial error” that concerns us here. It is the controversial speech delivered by Bishop George Gänswein in May 2016 at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the occasion of the presentation of the book by Roberto Regoli, Beyond the Crisis Of the Church: The Pontificate of Benedict XVI. Let us see the excerpts that we are given at this point[xv] [underlining and bold in the original]:
“It was ‘the least expected step in contemporary Catholicism’ Regoli writes, and yet a possibility which Cardinal Ratzinger had already pondered publicly on August 10, 1978 in Munich, in a homily on the occasion of the death of Paul VI. Thirty-five years later, he has not abandoned the Office of Peter — something which would have been entirely impossible for him after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005. By an act of extraordinary courage, he has instead renewed this office (even against the opinion of well-meaning and undoubtedly competent advisers), and with a final effort he has strengthened it (as I hope). Of course only history will prove this. But in the history of the Church it shall remain true that, in the year 2013, the famous theologian on the throne of Peter became history’s first ‘pope emeritus.’ Since then, his role — allow me to repeat it once again — is entirely different from that, for example, of the holy Pope Celestine V, who after his resignation in 1294 would have liked to return to being a hermit, becoming instead a prisoner of his successor, Boniface VIII (to whom today in the Church we owe the establishment of jubilee years). To date, in fact, there has never been a step like that taken by Benedict XVI. So it is not surprising that it has been seen by some as revolutionary, or to the contrary as entirely consistent with the Gospel; while still others see the papacy in this way secularized as never before, and thus more collegial and functional or even simply more human and less sacred. And still others are of the opinion that Benedict XVI, with this step, has almost — speaking in theological and historical-critical terms — demythologized the papacy.”
These lines have been read in light of the claim of “demythologization” of the Papacy discussed throughout the aforementioned doctoral thesis by J.M. Miller, being such a “demythologization”, in reality, a denaturalization, an attack directed specifically, in this case, against one of the essential and unalterable elements of the Papacy: its singularity. However, we have already seen, on the one hand, that these claims of “demythologization” were not defended by Ratzinger himself, but by other authors mentioned by Miller[xvi], and on the other, that Ratzinger himself constantly and emphatically defended the unipersonal configuration of the primatial office.
How to understand, then, Gänswein’s words, without ignoring Ratzinger’s demonstrated orthodoxy regarding the singularity of the papacy? Let us go little by little, fragment by fragment at Gänswein’s speech[xvii] [our highlights]:
“Eminences, Excellencies, dear Brothers, Ladies and Gentlemen!
During one of the last conversations that the pope’s biographer, Peter Seewald of Munich, was able to have with Benedict XVI, as he was bidding him goodbye, he asked him: ‘Are you the end of the old or the beginning of the new?’ The pope’s answer was brief and sure: ‘The one and the other,’ he replied. The recorder was already turned off; that is why this final exchange is not found in any of the book-interviews with Peter Seewald, not even the famous Light of the World. It only appeared in an interview he granted to Corriere della Sera in the wake of Benedict XVI’s resignation, in which the biographer recalled those key words which are, in a certain way, a maxim of the book by Roberto Regoli, which we are presenting here today at the Gregorian.
Indeed, I must admit that perhaps it is impossible to sum up the pontificate of Benedict XVI in a more concise manner. And the one who says it, over the years, has had the privilege of experiencing this Pope up close as a ‘homo historicus,’ the Western man par excellence who has embodied the wealth of Catholic tradition as no other; and—at the same time—has been daring enough to open the door to a new phase, to that historical turning point which no one five years ago could have ever imagined. Since then, we live in an historic era which in the 2,000-year history of the Church is without precedent.
As in the time of Peter, also today the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church continues to have one legitimate Pope. But today we live with two living successors of Peter among us — who are not in a competitive relationship between themselves, and yet both have an extraordinary presence! We may add that the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger had already marked decisively the long pontificate of St. John Paul II, whom he faithfully served for almost a quarter of a century as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Many people even today continue to see this new situation as a kind of exceptional (not regular) state of the divinely instituted office of Peter (eine Art göttlichen Ausnahmezustandes).
Since February 2013 the papal ministry is therefore no longer what it was before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation which Benedict XVI has profoundly and permanently transformed during his exceptional pontificate (Ausnahmepontifikat) […].
It was the morning of that very day [February 11, 2013] when, in the evening, a bolt of lightning with an incredible roar struck the tip of St. Peter’s dome positioned just over the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. Rarely has the cosmos more dramatically accompanied a historic turning point. […]“
Paragraphs later, Gänswein insists on the “spectacular and unexpected step,” of “millennial historical significance” that Benedict took with his “resignation,” even comparing it with the divine wonder of the Immaculate Conception.
So, are we to understand “historic,” “millennial,” “spectacular and unexpected,” “unprecedented” and “exceptional” to mean that Benedict XVI put himself above the Eternal Word of God, Who chose only one of the apostles as Pope, and in him, his perpetual successors[xviii]?
Of course not! As Andrea Cionci[xix] has well explained, Gänswein’s paradoxical assertion that the Church “continues to have a legitimate Pope” and at the same time “two living successors of Peter” can only be understood in the sense that one of the two is an antipope – and this would be Francis, since he was elected without Benedict having renounced the munus, that is, without the See having become vacant. Note that Gänswein himself warns us of the fact that Pope Benedict specifically renounced the ministerium, and not the munus, as well as of the inadequate translation of the latter word by the Vatican:
“The momentous resignation of the theologian pope represented a step forward primarily by the fact that, on February 11, 2013, speaking in Latin in front of the surprised cardinals, he introduced into the Catholic Church the new institution of ‘pope emeritus,’ stating that his strength was no longer sufficient ‘to properly exercise the Petrine ministry.’ The key word in that statement is munus petrinum, translated — as happens most of the time — with ‘Petrine ministry.’ And yet, munus, in Latin, has a multiplicity of meanings: it can mean service, duty, guide or gift, even prodigy. Before and after his resignation, Benedict understood and understands his task as participation in such a ‘Petrine ministry.’ He has left the papal throne and yet, with the step made on February 11, 2013, he has not at all abandoned this ministry. Instead, he has complemented the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, as a quasi-shared ministry (als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst) […]”.
Such a “collegial and synodal dimension” of the personal office is, of course, a merely apparent situation, factual (de facto), not juridical (de iure). Gänswein explicitly states that “Since the election of his successor Francis, on March 13, 2013, there are not therefore two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry – with an active member and a contemplative member.”
According to this discursive line, Benedict kept his papal name, the appellation “His Holiness” and his residence in the Vatican, for the simple reason that “he has not abandoned the Office of Peter […] he has instead renewed this office.” And this renewal does NOT correspond to the juridical effect of an (impossible) act of “bifurcation of the Papacy”, BUT RATHER to the practical effect of a deliberately non-existent/invalid “resignation from the pontificate.”
The “exceptional” refers, then, to the fact that the true Pope finds himself in a situation of paralysis, of practical imprisonment, while the usurper is in control of the structure of the Church, deceiving, disappointing and scandalizing many – especially those who guiltily remain blind to the reality of the facts. But in any case, the Chair of Peter remains juridically safeguarded in its legitimate holder, invulnerable for the gates of hell, and will continue to stand as the perpetual and indestructible foundation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.[xx]
And why would Benedict have acted in such a way? Why would he have conscientiously issued a non-existent/invalid resignation, in order to later preserve elements of indisputable pontifical dignity, and at the same time address Francis as “Holy Father” –also a pontifical title– and allow the deployment of his satanic maneuvers?
The question exceeds the canonical scope of the present dissertation, and has also been resolved on other occasions[xxi]. Briefly, we reply that, in our understanding, it is about the role that Heaven itself has delegated to the Holy Father in the final purification of the Church, and that in any case is accompanied by the necessary signals, issued by Benedict through a logical and at the same time subtle communicational system, so that those who have eyes to see, see – and those who do not, be mocked.
But, regardless of this communicational system, the truth is that, in the theological and juridical aspects, there is abundant and absolutely convergent evidence regarding Ratzinger’s faithful and rigorous orthodoxy regarding the unipersonality of the primacy, which at the same time demonstrate the total inadmissibility of the theory of “substantial error” linked to the extravagant heresy of the “collegial or synodal Papacy”[xxii].
Let us now analyze the second theory of “substantial error,” linked to the concepts of “power of order” and “power of jurisdiction.”
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
[i] Cf. https://www.barnhardt.biz/2016/06/; https://lesfemmes-thetruth.blogspot.com/2017/05/guest-post-invalid-abdication.html.
[ii] Preview available on: https://books.google.com.co/books?id=njXIJaDZhV4C&printsec=frontcover&hl=es#v=onepage&q&f=false.
[iii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVU3qtmT-gU&t=5198s; minute 57: 33 aprox.
[ix] In: Communio 41 (Spring 2014); pp. 112-128. Available here: https://www.communio-icr.com/articles/view/the-primacy-of-the-pope.
[xii] We consulted here the 5th edition, Publisher Palabra, 211p.
[xiii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVU3qtmT-gU&t=5198s; minute 1:09:40 aprox.
[xvi] The Papacy is now undergoing a “demythologization,” but not by Joseph Ratzinger, but by Francis and his henchmen. In fact, the demolition of the Papacy is the final blow in the masonic plan of destruction of the Church, in the structural aspect –because in the sacramental, the final blow is the abolition of the Perpetual Sacrifice–, and concrete steps are already being taken through the infamous “path of synodality”. Regarding this plan, see: MELONI, Julia. The St. Gallen Mafia: Exposing the Secret Reformist Group Within the Church (TAN Books, 2021, p. 168).
[xvii] https://aleteia.org/2016/05/30/complete-english-text-archbishop-georg-gansweins-expanded-petrine-office-speech/; https://www.acistampa.com/story/bendetto-xvi-la-fine-del-vecchio-linizio-del-nuovo-lanalisi-di-georg-ganswein-3369; https://web.archive.org/web/20180828113915/http://www.kath.net/news/55276.
[xviii] Cf. Mt 16,18-19; Jn 21,15-17; Second Council of Lyon; Ecumenical Council of Florence; Vatican Council I, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus; Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium.
[xx] In this regard, two sentences by Gänswein are significant: on the one hand, his allusion to the motto “cooperatores Veritatis” that was adopted by Ratzinger as archbishop of Munich and Freising, and on the other, his mention of what Benedict declared in his General Audience of February 27, 2013, in the sense that, since the Boat belongs to Christ, even when it seems that He is sleeping, we believers do not have to panic. It could be said that Benedict and Francis are “cooperators of the truth” because, although their works and attitudes towards the Church are diametrically opposed, both contribute in their own way to the final purification that she is currently undergoing. And it should also be noted that the true Pope, like Christ, seems to be sleeping in his situation of “impeded See,” but the truth is that, with this, he is directing—in an extraordinary and unprecedented way—the rudder of the Boat.
[xxi] Cf. our aforementioned book Benedict XVI: Pope “Emeritus”?, as well as the investigation Pope-Antipope by Andrea Cionci, made up of 60 articles: https://www.byoblu.com/2022/01/07/papa-e-antipapa-linchiesta-fango-di-40-anni-fa-contro-papa-ratzinger-il-tragico-boomerang-dei-pro-bergoglio-parte-60/.
[xxii] For, what sense does it make that someone who for years has emphatically defended the dogma of the unipersonality of the Primate –and this even at the level of the Sacred Congregation in charge of safeguarding the faith– suddenly “changes his mind” and executes an act bifurcation of the Papacy? This assumption is truly absurd, unproven and unprovable.