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I am posting a two-part refutation by Estefanía Acosta of the Substantial Error theory (that Pope Benedict XVI had an erroneous heterodox view of the papacy—that it is “bifurcate-able”—and that he is still Pope but only because he didn’t quite know what he was doing.
I seem to always post two-part treatments by the Colombian attorney and author Acosta. See HERE
This is partly because her writing style comes with an attorney’s attention to detail, and partly because there is no shortage of details. But the heart of the argument is simple: Now a kind of prisoner of the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI is still pope not because of some inner mistake on his part but because he carefully resigned only the ministerium (the functions, external duties, etc) of the papacy and not the munus (the office or gift) of the papacy.
So what we have here is an Impeded See, not an empty chair. Pope Benedict XVI retains the office, did so consciously, and therefore Bergoglio is an antipope (we have had over 30 in history), a usurper of the office of Vicar of Christ. Do have to keep repeating that Francis proudly rejects the title Vicar of Christ?
Take your time going through this. The content is not overly technical but the whole matter is weighty and, at first, disturbing to contemplate. That is, until you let her whole argument unfurl before you. Part Two soon.
More and more Catholics around the world are opening their eyes to the fact that the famous Declaratio publicly communicated by His Holiness Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013 did not constitute a valid resignation from the pontificate[i]. An objective, verifiable, documented fact: the Pope explicitly stated that he resigned ” the ministry of bishop of Rome “, and not the Petrine munus , that is, he resigned from carrying out (some of) the functions of the Pope, but not from being the titular of the ecclesiastical position or office of the Roman Pontiff[ii]. This fact, as is known, was followed by the rigorous and generally silent self-exile of the Holy Father in the Vatican, so that the Apostolic See was paralyzed, in a way prevented[iii], and at the same time materially exposed to the attacks of the enemies of the Church. And so it was that ecclesiastical Freemasonry, embodied in the Satanist conspirators who led the infamous St. Gallo mafia , managed to install one of their own as usurper of Peter’s throne: Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known under the offensive and Francisco ‘s burlesque entelechy [iv]. Nine years later, “the two Popes” apparently continue their peaceful coexistence.
So far everything is clear: at the canonical level, we have a legitimate Pope but materially removed from his functions (SS Benedict XVI), and an anti-Pope who, de facto , intends to “govern, sanctify and teach” the Universal Church without having a iota of authority for it ( Francis ). Now, the panorama begins to get complicated, and the disputes to arise, as we delve into the reason for the situation: what was Benedict XVI thinking when drafting his Declaratio? Did he know, prior to its public reading, that the text contained a non-existent/invalid renunciation of the pontificate, or did he mistakenly believe that he was resigning on a juridical level? Did the Shepherd abandon his sheep? Has the Holy Father lied about the reasons for his “resignation”, or for supposedly recognizing Francis as Pope? Is Benedict XVI a heretic (formal or material) as regards the essence of the Papacy?
Naturally, we do not intend here to answer all these questions – which, moreover, we have already done to some extent elsewhere[v]–. Specifically, we intend to dismantle the so-called “theories of substantial error”, which proclaim that Benedict XVI ignores the canonical invalidity of his resignation, since his misconception about the nature and essential characteristics of the Papacy led him to think that it was possible for him to give foot to a valid “successor” in the pontificate and at the same time continue to be Pope. As we shall see, these theories are, at best, lacking in sufficient evidence, and at worst, openly contradicting existing evidence. In any case, they accentuate the already harmful traditionalist positions[I saw] that, seeing in the post-conciliar Popes hopeless heretics and modernists, or at least fifth-class theologians, they only contribute to deepening the wounds of division in the Church, and to hindering filial and loyal adherence to Peter . We will try to distort them, then, as part of our service to The Rock : our Lord Jesus Christ and his Vicar on Earth.
To fulfill this purpose, we will begin by defining the “substantial error” in the context of the legal act. Then we will address the two theories of substantial error that, due to their great diffusion and their at least internal coherence[vii], deserve consideration. We will treat both theories separately: we will briefly expose their postulates, and immediately we will present the respective counter-arguments. Finally, we will offer our conclusions on the assessment that these theories deserve in terms of veracity, necessity and convenience.
Like almost all words in natural language, the term “error” has multiple meanings. Let us take, for what concerns us here, the first two definitions offered by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE): ” Wrong concept or false judgment / Misguided or wrong action “[viii] [and by “misguided” is meant, lacking sanity, prudence or wisdom[ix]]. As an example of “mistake”, the dictionary presents us with the following sentence: “ When I wrote the address, I made a mistake with the portal number ” [x].
Let us now enter the context of the legal act. Let us remember that a legal act is nothing more than a socially recognizable decision (expression of will or consent) relevant to the law, that is, accepted by the pertinent norms as a source that generates legal consequences. Thus, for example, the legal consequences of a contract are the reciprocal obligations between the contracting parties, the legal consequences of an act of adoption correspond to the parentage relationship between adopters and adoptees, etc. As is logical, for the legal consequences that each legal act is given to generate to actually arise, it is necessary that it meets all the requirements provided by the law itself. These requirements are aimed, on the one hand, at guaranteeing the clarity, security and freedom of those who participate in the act, and on the other, at safeguarding certain requirements related to public order (public safety, morality and good customs,
What does all this have to do with the notion of “substantial error”?
The “substantial error”, understood in the first meaning that the RAE provided us -or, in the slightly more elaborated words of the canonists, as ” a defect of the act of understanding by which there is a false judgment or wrong estimate of an object ”[xi]–, is a phenomenon that excludes the freedom of the parties in the legal acts, and therefore it is generally foreseen as a cause of nullity of the same. Indeed, how could someone freely make the decision that the legal act consists of, if his intelligence is affected by a mistaken appreciation of the circumstances that in one way or another influence him? If the correct understanding of the reality on which to decide is lacking, the will in this decision will not be free (it will be vitiated ).), and consequently, the act in question may be annulled. In the canonical context, such nullity is provided for in canons 126 and 188 of the Code of Canon Law (CDC)[xii].
These theoretical considerations are necessary because, in the case of the presumed legal act of “renunciation of the pontificate” carried out by His Holiness Benedict XVI in February 2013, under the heading of supposedly invalidating errors, a number of circumstances have been pointed out that in no way fit in the concept of “substantial error” as vice of consent .
Thus, for example, there are those who have tried to analyze the grammatical errors of Latin[xiii], or even those of fingering[xiv], present in the Declaratio , from the perspective of this class of vices[xv]. But, what does a grammatical or typing error have to do with a mistaken appreciation of the reality that surrounds the act and, therefore, with a vice of consent? Obviously nothing.
It has also been said that “ the Holy Spirit led Benedict XVI to INTENTIONALLY make a MISTAKE ON PURPOSE ”[xvi] (sic). We do not know what specific “error” the commentator is referring to here, but, although in certain cases the presence of “errors” deliberately inserted in the text of a legal act would be conceivable –such as the aforementioned grammatical and typing errors– , the truth is that deliberation automatically excludes the defect of understanding that constitutes the “substantial error” as a vice of consent.
Still others have pointed out that, despite the fact that, for the valid renunciation of the papal office (and the consequent vacancy of the Apostolic See), canon 332.2 of the CDC expressly provides for the renunciation of the munus , Benedict resigned from the ministerium , and therefore, his assertion that the Headquarters would remain vacant was “erroneous”. This would be, they continue, a “substantial error” in terms of the effects of the act. The defenders of this position explain it in a simple way by comparing what the Pope affirmed in his Declaratio –in the sense that, by renouncing the ministerium , the See would remain vacant–, with the absurd hypothesis that it would be said: “I renounce eating bananas, in such a way that the Headquarters will remain vacant”[xvii].
The problem with this explanation is that it does not offer proof of the “substantial error” (understood as a vice of consent) that it advocates. What this position evidences is a deficiency referred to the object of the alleged legal act contained in the Declaratio : if the Pope intended to renounce the Papacy, he should precisely indicate the Papacy (or its synonyms: pontificate, primatial office, position of Roman Pontiff, etc.) as the object of his resignation; having pointed to a different object (ministry, bananas etc.), it was logically impossible for the act of renunciation of the Papacy to arise. But the fact that an object other than the one required for the emergence of the act has been indicated, does not allow us to know, per se , the reasonwhy the author has done so, and therefore the assertion that this reason would necessarily have been a “substantial error”, is simply gratuitous, unjustified . Is it not possible that Pope Benedict had been fully aware that his “resignation from the ministry” would in no way produce, legally, the vacancy of the See, and even then he had expressly alluded to it for reasons of convenience? Could this proceed not correspond to a deliberate and subtle use of ambiguity?
What we want to highlight here is that the fact that a legal act does not meet the necessary requirements for its existence and validity –that is, to produce the legal effects that are its own–, is not necessarily due to a “substantial error”, to poor knowledge or misjudgment on the part of its author. Thus, for example, I could, in the text of an alleged sales contract for one of my properties, mix correct data and erroneous data about its identification (location, area, license plate number, etc.), and this could obey, well because I mistakenly think that all the data entered is correct (and it would even be possible that I had a wrong judgment about the identity of the property that I am supposedly selling), or because I know and accept the inaccuracy of some of such data, because for some reason I am interested in causing confusion in the object sold so that, tomorrow, I can obtain a declaration of non-existence or nullity of the act.
The previous hypothesis shows us that the “substantial error” cannot be recognized only from the very words of the act in question . The “substantial error” is a phenomenon of a psychological nature , and as such requires further evidence to reconstruct the author’s assessment of the reality to which the act refers – these evidence could be linked, for example, to the intellectual level of the subject, their motivations, the circumstances in which he was when performing the act, etc.
None of the aforementioned complaints about the alleged “substantial errors” in Benedict XVI’s Declaratio – linked, respectively, to grammatical and typing errors, to “an intentional [or] purposeful error” and “an error as to the effects of the act”–, fulfills this necessary burden of proof in terms of the psychological, and therefore all of them are dismissed without further ado.
However, there are two theories of “substantial error” that effectively start from an adequate understanding of the need to satisfy this burden of proof, and in fact attempt to satisfy it. We turn to an individual examination of these two theories below.
[i] Patrick Coffin being perhaps, until now, the most prominent voice in defense of this reality. See https://www.patrickcoffin.media/seven-pieces-of-evidence-that-francis-is-an-antipope/
[iii] To tell the truth, the situation in which Pope Benedict XVI has been seen during these nine years does not fit technically and precisely in what canons 412 to 415 of the Code of Canon Law (CDC) understand and regulate by ” episcopal see impeded ” – what is more, we do not even have a specific canonical regulation of the “ impeded apostolic see ”. And this is hardly obvious: the current situation of the pontificate is completely unprecedented in the history of the Church, and escapes the legal provisions that have existed up to now. We are not in a “vacant seat”, because we still have Papam(Benedict XVI), but this Pope is not in the “normal” exercise of his functions. The concept of “sede impeda”, whose relevance has been proposed by the Italian journalist Andrea Cionci (cfr. 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/ ), is the one that, at least provisionally, is closer to the adequate description of the crisis than the Papado crosses into the present moment.
[iv] Cf. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-danneels-admits-being-part-of-clerical-mafia-that-plotted-francis ; https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/europa/58849/iglesia-catolica-mafia-cardinal-danneels-papa-francisco-benedicto-xvi ;
PIQUE, Elisabetta . Francis : Life and Revolution. A biography of Jorge Bergoglio. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2013, 315p; IVEREIGH, Austen . The Great Reformer : Francis, story of a radical Pope. Buenos Aires: Editions B, 2015. 567p.
[v] Benedict XVI: Pope “Emeritus”? :
[vi] Let’s not get confused: by definition, every true Catholic must be traditional (non- traditionalist ) and modern (non- modernist ) at the same time. It is that we follow the Risen Christ, always the same and always new!
[vii] By “internal consistency”, we mean that the two theories in question start from an adequate understanding of the concept of “substantial error”.
[viii] https://dle.rae.es/equivocar .
[ix] https://dle.rae.es/acierto .
[xi] CODE OF CANON LAW . 6th ed. Pamplona: Editions University of Navarra SA, 2001; comment to c. 1097.
[xii] “ The act performed through ignorance or error is null when it affects what constitutes its substance or falls on a sine qua non condition ; otherwise, it is valid, unless the law establishes otherwise, but the act carried out by ignorance or by mistake may give rise to rescission action in accordance with law ” and “ Renunciation made out of fear is null under the law itself. serious unjustly provoked, fraud, substantial error or simony ”.
[xiii] Commissum vs. commisso , vitae vs. life .
[xiv] Hour 29 vs. hour 20 .
[xv] Cf. Josephmaryam , Analysis of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI . [accessed May 04. 2022] Available at:
[xvii] Cf. https://www.fromrome.info/2018/11/19/the-validity-of-pope-benedict-vxis-resignation-must-be-questioned/ ; https://abyssum.org/2018/03/21/much-has-been-written-about-benedicts-resignation-and-francis-election-here-is-the-best-analysis-i-have-read- up-to-now/