Andrea Cionci Replies to Ann Barnhardt and Dr. Ed Mazza on Substantial Error vs The Ratzinger Code

Andrea Cionci Replies to Ann Barnhardt and Dr. Ed Mazza on Substantial Error vs The Ratzinger Code

Andrea Cionci Replies to Ann Barnhardt and Dr. Ed Mazza on Substantial Error vs The Ratzinger Code


This is the English version of an essay first published in Italy by Andrea Cionci. I am releasing it in English here for the sake of the truth and the good of the Church. A meeting of the minds is much more productive than talking past each other. Another essay to follow in this space.

Blogger Ann Barnhardt and Prof. Edmund Mazza are among America’s best-known Catholic commentators. Both have historical merits for popularizing in the U.S. the reality of the invalidity of Pope Benedict XVI’s Declaratio as renunciation and, (especially Barnhardt), Bergoglio’s antipapacy. With different declinations, however, they are proponents of the so-called “Substantial Error,” an argument that Pope Benedict made, yes, an invalid renunciation, but unwittingly, based on his own misconceptions of the papacy.

The Substantial Error theory states that Benedict XVI, since he wanted to create the emeritus papacy and divide the papacy into two (an active pope and a contemplative emeritus pope), did not make a valid renunciation, and therefore remains the only pope. One of the bases of this theory is Bishop Gaenswein’s famous 2016 speech on “extended ministry,” which we wrote about HERE


We address overseas scholars with an open letter, to share (in a spirit of friendship and collaboration) our most recent acquisitions, fine-tuned through work involving numerous scholars.

Dear Mrs. Barnhardt and Prof. Mazza,

the Magna Quaestio, to the recomposition of which you have made such important contributions, is like a large jigsaw puzzle, on which so many scholars have worked for: each one has reassembled a piece of it. Without all those who, from the beginning, have questioned the Declaratio as a renunciation of the papacy, without the contribution of so many courageous specialists and even of many readers who have produced testimonies and documents, I couldn’t myself submit to your attention, today, the results of my two-year study. In a few days they will be published, in its entirety in a 340-page investigative book entitled “Ratzinger Code“.

Unfortunately, in Italy, many secular and religious scholars urged by me to a peaceful and constructive dialogue, disregarding of the “insignificant” possibilities on the horizon, (such as: the end of the Catholic Church, a third world war, the establishment of a new world order with a syncretist megareligion), they have preferred to close in on themselves, without either refuting or discussing the issue: the Impeded See. Those bitter words of Galileo Galilei come to mind, when he, referring to his critics, wrote: “What can we say of the most celebrated philosophers of this Study who, filled with the obstinacy of the asp, despite the fact that more than a thousand times I have offered them my availability, have not wanted to see either the planets, the moon or the telescope?”

I hope you will welcome more openly the facts and documents that follow because, as you well know, there is much more at stake here than professional point-scoring and defending one’s own ideological turf. Facts either are, or they are not and, as Alexis Carrel used to say, “little observation and much reasoning lead to error; much observation and little reasoning lead to truth.

The first point to make is that Declaratio is not invalid solely because of the munus/ministerium inversion. Pope Benedict literally “undermined” that document with a series of “canonical explosive charges.” For example, the postponement – totally unnecessary, if you think about it – of the entry into force of the renunciation of the ministerium. This postponement is in fact totally unacceptable for an abdication, since, theologically, it is God Himself who grants or withdraws the munus. And certainly He cannot be given expiring assignments as if He were a butler. There is also the failure to ratify the renunciation of the ministerium, which was never confirmed after 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, as said by theologian Carlo Maria Pace: HERE


Then there is the utterly fanciful use (as noted by Advocate Arthur Lambauer) of the expressions “See of St. Peter”, “See of Rome“, which have no juridical personality to be considered “vacant,” as (only) the Apostolic See can be. Hence the correct interpretation of the phrase “ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet“, which must be translated as “so that the See of St. Peter remains empty“. A promise fulfilled by Benedict when, at 5 p.m. he flight with his helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, leaving the physical See empty, by 8 p.m. Not to mention that objectively strange phrase in the Declaratio “(…)and the Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is” which refers precisely to the pre-2013 cardinals of appointment, the only valid ones HERE

Thus, if Declaratio was derived from Benedict’s “philosophical” error, it certainly could not have been infused with so many sabotaging mechanisms of an abdication that instead, as it happens, fit perfectly with the ingenious voluntary self-exile in an “Impeded See”. An extraordinary defense mechanism, since the Impeded See means that the 2013 conclave could not take place because the previous pope was neither dead nor abdicated. Bergoglio, then, never existed as pope for a reason far more basic and antecedent than questions about his heresies or irregularities in the election. The 2013 conclave could not take place, and this can never be healed by the Universalis Ecclesiae Adhaesio, the universal peaceful acceptance of the high clergy.

Already these contingencies, let me say, totally rule out the hypothesis of Pope Benedict’s unawareness. Rather, he knowingly applied this anti-usurpation plan, which as you read HERE.

he himself borrowed from German dynastic law. Like that, he lead into temptation, that is, tested the loyalty of his cardinals, with a candid and legitimate declaration. Not deceptive: his enemies, blinded by greed, accepted any document that smelled of resignation, and thus, “self-schismated” themselves.

But what is even more important and significant in ruling out substantive error, is the so-called “Ratzinger Code“.

You may have heard of it: it is a particular style of communication, inspired by that of Jesus with his accusers, HERE.

by which Pope Benedict confirms in dozens and dozens of sentences that the pope is only himself and that he is in the canonical state of “Impeded See”.

Already in March 2021, lawyer Carlo Taormina, Italy’s most famous jurist, had told Libero newspaper, HERE.

The continuous and studied ambivalence, over eight years, attributed to Ratzinger’s statements is striking. In substance, he seems to always reiterate the same thing, namely that the pope is not other than him, Benedict.”

From there we made numerous other discoveries such that other professionals and specialists signed, months later, this statement:

The objective and strange ambiguities in Benedict XVI’s language identified as the “Ratzinger Code,” also encountered by other journalists, or even readers, are not accidental, and are not due to the author’s age or, least of all, to his unpreparedness. They are subtle but unmistakable messages that lead back to the canonical situation described in the investigation. Pope Benedict communicates subtly because he is in a state of Impeded See, and therefore unable to express himself freely. The “Ratzinger Code” is his own form of logical and indirect communication. It’s based on apparent inconsistencies that do not escape the eye of trained people. Such phrases, “decoded” with due insights into the references the Pope makes to history, current events, and canon law, conceal a perfectly identifiable logical subtext with precise and unambiguous meanings. At other times, Benedict XVI opts for “amphibolic” phrases, not without humorous cues, that can be interpreted in two different ways. These communication techniques give him a way to make it clear, “to those who have ears to hear,” that he is still the pope and that he is in a situation of impediment. Therefore, anyone who claims that “Ratzinger Code” messages are fanciful interpretations, is either misunderstanding or denying the evidence.”

Prof. Rocco Quaglia, professor of dynamic psychology at the University of Turin

Prof. Antonio Sànchez Sàez, professor of law at the University of Seville

Prof. Gian Matteo Corrias, professor of literary subjects and historical-religious essayist

Prof. Alessandro Scali, professor of Classical Humanities, writer and essayist.

Prof. Gianluca Arca, professor of Latin and Greek, philologist, researcher, essayist.

Dr. Giuseppe Magnarapa, psychiatrist, essayist and writer.

And now I turn to quote to you the most significant and eloquent messages from the very rich parterre produced by Pope Benedict. They are what I have called “Kilometer Zero-Messages” in that no effort is required to understand them. (In fact, there are other phrases in Ratzinger’s messaging that require some application, but I do not intend to deal with them here.)

In his February 2021 interview with Corriere della Sera, Benedict XVI reiterated for the umpteenth time, tapping his hand on the armrest of his chair:

There are not two popes. There is only one pope.”

There Is Only One Pope…Andrea Cionci Asks: Which Is the Real One?

A phrase he has been repeating for nine years without ever explaining WHO the pope IS.

Now, if Benedict was convinced that there can be two popes, how could he say such a thing? And, more importantly, why does he not dissolve his reservations about who this one pope is, potentially throwing a billion 285 million faithful into panic?

Extremely significant is the November 13, 2021 letter in response to a faithful, https://sfero.me/article/the-pope-emeritus-is-the-supreme

through the Secretariat of State, Benedict made the official write:

“Dear Madam,

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has received your kind letter in which you wished to address to him expressions of filial affection. Acknowledging the sentiments of devotions manifested, the Supreme Pontiff encourages you to turn your gaze with ever greater confidence to your heavenly Father.”

See? The pope emeritus is, therefore, the Supreme Pontiff: they are infallibly the same person who appreciated the faithful woman’s affectionate letter.

Another very clear message is contained in Peter Seewald’s “Last Testament: in His Own Words” (2016), a real treasure trove of messages, which I invite you to read, especially Chapters II and III.

Question from the journalist: “One may think that the pope, the vicar of Christ on Earth, must have a particularly close, intimate relationship with the Lord.”

Pope Ratzinger’s response, “Yes, it should be that way, and it’s not that I have the feeling that He is far away”

Rhetorical syllogism. Benedict accepts the premise of the question: he is the pope and the Vicar of Christ. If the pope is one and if it was Francis, how could he possibly say such a thing?

February 2022. Responding to faithful who had expressed their solidarity with him during the judicial media attack in January, Benedict greeted them this way:

I gladly include you and your intentions in my prayers. With my apostolic blessing, Yours in the Lord, Benedict XVI.”


“His” apostolic blessing is the exclusive prerogative of the reigning pope. And it is not an isolated case: back in 2017 he greeted Card. Brandmueller with his apostolic blessing, in a letter replete with Ratzinger Codes:

Still from “Last Testament”, question: “According to St. Malachy’s list, the papacy would end with your pontificate. What if you were indeed the last to represent the figure of the pope as we have known him so far?”

Benedict XVI’s response: “Anything can be.

But after him, regardless if the prophecy is true or not, shouldn’t there be the legitimate successor Pope Francis, the 266th Roman pontiff?  Clearly not, because he is not the real pope.


An extremely learned and precise message is contained in the same book, on page 2: “With you (talking to the Holy Father – n.d.r.), for the first time in the history of the Church, a pontiff in the full and effective exercise of his functions resigned from his ‘office.’ Was there an inner conflict over the decision?

Pope Ratzinger’s response: “It’s not that simple, of course. No pope has resigned for a thousand years, and even in the first millennium there was only one exception.”

A glaring historical error (with six abdicating popes in the first millennium and four in the second) unless one considers precisely his resignation as from the ministerium alone and thus perfectly locates that pair of popes (Benedict VIII and Gregory V) who in the first millennium, before the Gregorian Reformation, were temporarily cast out by antipopes and lost precisely the practical exercise of power, but remained popes. As it happens, an ante litteram Impeded See.

HERE (english version)

May we quote, then, Pope Ratzinger’s famous response to Vaticanist Tornielli in 2016:

“The keeping of the white cassock and the name Benedict is simply a practical thing. At the time of the renunciation there were no other clothes available. After all, I wear the white cassock in a clearly different manner from that of the Pope.”

Benedict would have kept the white cassock because, in nine years, no ecclesiastical tailor could be found in all of Rome who could prepare the “former pope” a black, red or purple cassock other than the white one? Quite ridiculous, don’t you think? The interpretation, then, can only be this: keeping the white cassock and the name was the most practical thing that could be done since, by factually renouncing the ministerium, Benedict XVI remained THE pope. That is why there could be no other clothes available other than the white, pope’s clothes: there is no specific cassock for a self-exiled pope in Impeded See, but still he wears the white cassock in a clearly distinct way from the typical pope’s one (i.e., without the mozzetta and the sash).


I could go on for pages and pages, but I will stop here. Mrs. Barnhardt, thoroughly analyzing Bishop Gaenswein’s speech, with stringent logic considered that it was literally implosive (in a certain “politically correct” view.

Here is what Msgr. Gaenswein says: “As in the time of Peter, today too the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church continues to have only one legitimate pope. However, for the last three years, Catholics have lived with “two living successors of Peter among us” – who are not in a competition with each other, and yet both with an extraordinary presence.”

What does that mean? There is only one legitimate pope … but there are two popes. How is this possible? Only in one case: IF THERE IS ONE LEGITIMATE POPE AND ONE ILLEGITIMATE POPE! They are not in competition because one is pope and the other is not.

And the secretary recoils: “Since the election of his successor Francis on March 13, 2013, there are therefore not two popes, but de facto an extended ministry – with an active member and a contemplative member.” There ARE not two popes, that is, only one IS the pope. There is one MEMBER (active) who DOES the pope without being the pope (Bergoglio) and one who IS the pope (Ratzinger) and is the only legitimate pope. This is why Bishop Gaenswein uses the indistinct word “member” and uses auxiliary verbs perfectly. This explains the mystery of the extended ministry. It is not a canonical question, but a historical-theological-eschatological one.

So there are two popes, but one is legitimate and the other is illegitimate. That is why Benedict says that there IS only one (true) pope. Himself, because he never left the munus.

And it all adds up: Benedict, pressed to abdicate, applied the anti-usurpation system he had set up since 1983 with the “hypnotic” munus/ministerium breakdown. The St. Gallen Mafia forced him out of the way, he retreated to the Impeded See. Like that, Bergoglio and his people, who seized power abusively without the previous pope being dead or abdicated, were “schismed”.

He is pope “emeritus”, from emereus, the one “who deserves, who is entitled” to be pope. An adjective, spelled not coincidentally lowercase (Pope Emeritus) as opposed to Bishop Emeritus, a status that is instead entirely canonical. And so, from the perspective of faith, Bergoglio, devoid of the munus, devoid of any “seal of guarantee” involving the assistance of the Holy Spirit, can say whatever he wants. In a sense he is justified: he is not the pope.

Ratzinger is a genius, Ms. Barnhardt rightly admits, and as such he has set up an absolutely ingenious system that makes all the ends meet, theologically, canonically, historically. That’s how to find full consistency in all his statements, even when he seems to be on affectionate terms with Bergoglio. Let us not stop at appearances: he is not Francis’ friend, but he loves him, meek as a lamb, like Jesus who let himself be kissed and betrayed by Judas, for a final purification of the Church, in order to “separate believers from non-believers,” as Ratzinger himself declared to the Heder Korrespondenz this summer.

There will surely be a day when Benedict will no longer be impeded, and everything will be made explicit. but everything was already fixed in time in 2013, with that Declaratio that was not a Renunciatio, but a candid declaration of self-exile in the Impeded See. A truth that the real pope made us understand gradually, by logic, since he is the Vicar of the Logos. And a huge help has been given to us by Bergoglio who, an unwitting cooperator with the truth, with his brutal demolitions of Catholicism has revealed himself a mile away as anti-pope and anti-Catholic.

Too good to be true? No. Here we are, in the presence of something, the apostasy within the Church, known to the true popes since Fatima (1917): they had been preparing for decades. And, in any case, we are talking about the legitimate Vicar of Someone who is surely a great artist.

Please: let us cooperate, let us combine our research efforts like American Thomas A. Edison and Italian Alessandro Cruto, who both invented the light bulb each drawing on the other’s discoveries. And there is much need for light in this dark night.

History will not forgive any personalistic entrenchments.

With cordial greetings, and the utmost willingness to respond to any objections.

Andrea Cionci

Related Posts

If you want to build a better culture, climb aboard.