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By Patrick Coffin
Finally, I am getting around to replying to Mark Docherty over at https://nonvenipacem.com, who literally begged me to do so on Twitter.
So, in homage to Strunk and White’s maxim to omit needless words, and grateful to Mark for the opportunity, here are my answers to his four questions (posted May 22, 2022), the full title of which was “Four Questions for the BiP crowd who maintain Benedict knew what he was doing, did it on purpose, and remains the only true pope with his own full knowledge and consent.”
QUESTION ONE: “If Pope Benedict executed his non-resignation (grave matter) with full knowledge and full intent, how is it that he is not in a state of mortal sin for doing so?”
ANSWER ONE: Resign the external functions (ministerium) of the papacy is what he did. Resign the office (munus) is what he did not do. The juridical object of his Declaratio was not the office of the Sovereign Pontiff, per Canon 332.2, therefore he remains the true Pope.
To assert that this is “grave matter” for which you judge him guilty of “mortal sin” is to commit the Petitio Principii (Begging the Question) fallacy. The additional accusations—like that His Holiness Pope Benedict is a great “deceiver” who wrongly “does evil that good may come”—stem from the same false starting point.
QUESTION TWO: “If Pope Benedict executed his intentional grave deception in order to save the Church from the wolves, what then of the Faithful? Not a word from Benedict about the apostasy of his “successor” who all the world thinks is pope? This is the most grave mortal sin of SCANDAL.”
ANSWER TWO: Pope Benedict did not “execute intentional grave deception” (see above). As for the claim that he has been silent about the apostasy of his “successor,” two things may be said. First, to be precise, he has no successor, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio is an antipope. Second, at key junctures in the history of Bergoglio’s’ maltreatment of the deposit of Faith, Pope Benedict has intervened with pointed Catholic commentary, providing a timely counter-ballast to Bergoglio’s obvious heretical directives and doctrines. He refused to endorse a collection of lame books by the Argentine usurper, he collaborated with Robert Cardinal Sarah on a book affirming celibacy, he has weighed with select critical interviews that transmit his assessment of the “barque of Peter seeming to capsize” etc. Above all, His Holiness has never once said, “Francis is the Pope, obey him.”
And don’t miss Estefanía Acosta’s outstanding book—really, the definitive field manual to this whole question—”Benedict XVI: Pope Emeritus? The Always Is Also a Forever.” (Almost 90% of Amazon reader reviews are Five Stars).
I don’t know what to make of your complaint that “70 million Catholics who have died since 2013” and “have been led astray, accepted heresy and easy sin, and gone to their eternal reward in such condition” other than to say it’s a bizarre non sequitur. Pope Benedict has never denied he is the sitting Pontiff, and he is not responsible for the foolish, anti-Catholic, masonic messaging by Francis the antipope.
More importantly, God judges all souls justly and with mercy, and takes into account the same mysterious interplay of conditions as objective matter, subjective context, formation of conscience, and so on—whether or not an antipope sits in Rome. He did the same in history before Christ came to earth, and does so today for remote aboriginal tribes who have not heard the gospel. Were previous true Popes like Urban VI responsible for the damnation of souls because of the non-binding teachings of anti-popes like Clement VIII?
Strange that so many trads and other conservative Catholics reserve their most potent venom for His Holiness Pope Benedict, whose Impeded See (Canon 412) was not only established in response to being criminally forced out (complete with death threats, himself for certain and others most likely) but who continually and with the suffering mentioned in his Declaratio, safeguards the integrity of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Faith, until such time that all is revealed.
QUESTION THREE: What was it, exactly, that Benedict did actually resign (or intend to resign) when he read out the Declaratio?
ANSWER THREE: He resigned, and intended to resign, the ministerium, or functions, executive juridical duties, and so on, of the papacy. The video of him doing so in real time is HERE for all to see and read. His chosen key nouns are all declensions of ministerium, not munus. He could have validly resigned the office (munus) at any point since February 11, 2013, but he has not.
QUESTION FOUR: Since Gnosticism is heresy, how are the faithful to approach the “Ratzinger Code” in an orthodox manner?
ANSWER FOUR: With respect, this is the equivalent of beginning a conversation with “Have you stopped beating your wife?” As I understand Andrea Cionci’s research—painstaking and thorough as it is, over many years drawn from dozens of contexts—the Ratzinger “Code” is better understood as a method or manner of communicating. It’s not a kid’s treasure key to find the mythical gold chest, and it’s not a bunch of occult or secret runes or hieroglyphics that can only be known by initiates.
On the contrary, it’s a consistent pattern of revealing a juridical substructure of meaning (namely, that His Holiness is very much aware he is still the Pope) that makes use of a pedagogy that, to borrow from Cionci, brings to mind our Lord’s teaching through parables. No one faults Jesus for communicating His gospel with stories that begin, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” instead of delivering a didactic lecture about metaphysics and theology.
The so-called Ratzinger Code seems a strange and unlikely concept at first. And while it is subtle and sometimes sublime, it’s not terribly complicated. Many true things are strange and unlikely. Like the Incarnation itself.
No need for a decoder ring or elite training. All you need to do is a) look, and then, with the logical and consistent evidence laid out, b) see.
If not, what you’re left with is the Substantial Error theory, the grand assumption of which is that Pope Benedict XVI, the orthodox Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a quarter century who oversaw the very phrasing of the 1983 Code of Canon Law by which he resigned the ministerium and created the Impeded See—didn’t know how to resign properly!
This man—who has spoken, written, (probably) dreamed, and lectured in Latin at the PhD level for six decades, and while he was the sitting Sovereign Pontiff at age 76—was ignorant of his own modernist-tainted error that “the papacy can be bifurcated”?
Such an error, if true, effectively obliterates the gift of infallibility. Mark, I’m sorry, but the Substantial Error theory proves too much.
The cardinals who were appointed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are the only ones assigned by canon law to authoritatively adjudicate and end this Bergoglian nightmare, and therefore need to examine the most accurate collection of evidence for BiP.
To that end, brother, I genuinely hope this helps.