Friday, August 5, 2022

Benedict contra Benevacantism

I’ve been reading the second volume of Peter Seewald’s Benedict XVI: A Life.  There is much of interest in it, including a new interview with Benedict at the very end.  Some of what he says is relevant to the controversy over Benevacantism (also called “Beneplenism” and the “Benedict is pope (BiP)” thesis), which holds that Benedict never validly resigned and that Francis is an antipope.  I’ve addressed this topic a couple of times before and the debate is, in my view, essentially played out.  But since a small but significant number of Catholics remain attracted to this foolish thesis, it seems worthwhile calling attention to how Benedict’s remarks throw further cold water on it.

Who is the current pope?

Seewald reports that in a 2018 exchange, Benedict refused to answer certain questions about the current situation in the Church, on the grounds that this would “inevitably be interfering in the work of the present pope.  I must avoid and want to avoid anything in that direction” (p. 533, emphasis added).  That remark by itself demonstrates that Benedict does not regard himself as still pope.  For if he were, then he could hardly be interfering with himself by speaking out.  Benedict also explicitly rejects “any idea of there being two popes at the same time,” since “a bishopric can have only one incumbent” (p. 537).  Who does he think is the one current pope, then?  The answer is obvious from the fact that Benedict explicitly refers to Francis as “Pope Francis” three times in the interview (at pp. 537 and 539).  He also refers to Francis as “my successor” (p. 539), and speaks of “the new pope” (p. 520).

Clearly, then, Benedict himself thinks that he is not the pope and that Francis is the pope.  Now, Benevacantists claim to submit loyally to the authority of the true pope, who, they say, is still Benedict.  They also think that Francis’s alleged status as an antipope explains his predilection for doctrinally problematic statements.  But then, if Benevacantists submit to Benedict’s authority, shouldn’t they accept his judgment that Francis is the pope and he is not?  Of course, that would be an incoherent position.  Benevacantists must, accordingly, judge that Benedict is simply mistaken. 

But that just leads them out of one incoherent position and into another.  For if Benedict’s understanding of the nature of the papal office is so deficient that he does not even realize that he is himself pope, and instead embraces an antipope, how is he any more reliable as a teacher of doctrine than Francis?  Wouldn’t this grave doctrinal error indicate that he is an antipope?  Wouldn’t his being in communion with an antipope entail that he is also a schismatic, and indeed that he is in schism with himself?  Wouldn’t his failure to appoint cardinals validly to elect his successor (instead leaving it to the alleged antipope Francis invalidly to make such appointments) entail that he has essentially destroyed the papal office for all time, by making it impossible ever again to have a valid papal election?  How, given all of this, can Benevacantists still regard Benedict as a hero any more than they regard Francis as such?  How can they avoid going full sedevacantist?

Emeritus schmeritus

Benevacantists make much fuss about Benedict’s adoption of the “Pope Emeritus” title, taking it to be evidence that he intended to retain some aspect of the papal office.  I have explained elsewhere why the title indicates no such thing, and Benedict’s remarks in the interview confirm this.  Commenting on the use of “emeritus” to refer to a retired bishop, Benedict says that “the word ‘emeritus’ said that he had totally given up his office,” and retained only a “spiritual link to his former diocese” as its “former bishop” (p. 536, emphasis added).  In taking the “Pope Emeritus” title, he was simply extending this preexisting usage to the specific case of the bishop of Rome.

That entails, though, that Benedict understands himself to have “totally given up” the papal office, and takes Rome to be his “former diocese.”  This undermines claims to the effect that his resignation was invalid, on the grounds that he wrongly supposed that he could give up one aspect of the office (the “ministerium”) while retaining another (the “munus”).  He was supposing no such thing – again, if he had been, he could not think of Rome as his former diocese, the bishopric of which he had totally given up.

Speaking of the disappointment that his resignation caused, Benedict says that, nevertheless, “I was clear that I had to do it and that this was the right moment.  Otherwise, I would just wait to die to end my papacy” (p. 520).  Notice that he takes his resignation to have ended his pontificate no less decisively than his death would have ended it.  Needless to say, had he died, there would be no talk of him holding on to the “munus” while giving up the “ministerium.”  But if he takes his resignation to have ended his papacy just as completely as his death would have, then in that case too he cannot be said to have intended to hold on to the one while renouncing only the other.

Proponents of the munus/ministerium distinction claim that Benedict laid down only the functions of the papacy, while holding on to its ontological status, which they claim he thinks cannot be given up.  But in his interview with Seewald, Benedict explicitly rejects the very idea that these can be separated.  In response to the question whether failing capacity is a good reason to resign the papacy, Benedict says:

Of course, that might cause a misunderstanding about function.  The Petrine succession is not only linked to a function, but also concerns being.  So functioning is not the only criterion.  On the other hand, a pope must also do particular things… [I]f you are no longer capable it is advisable – at least for me, others may see it differently – to vacate the chair. (pp. 524-25)

Clearly, then, he takes the being and the function of the papacy to go hand in hand, so that if one renounces the one – “vacates the chair” – one thereby renounces the other.

It is also sometimes suggested that Benedict’s resignation was done under duress and thus invalidly.  To that he responds:

Of course you can't submit to such demands. That is why I stressed in my speech that I was doing so freely. You can never leave if it means running away, you can never submit to pressure. You can only leave if no one is demanding it. And no one has demanded it in my time.  No one. It was a complete surprise to everyone. (p. 506)

There simply can be no reasonable doubt, then, that Benedict’s resignation met the very simple criteria set out in canon law: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone” (Can. 332 §2).  He clearly intended to renounce the office entirely, not merely in part.  And he did so freely.  End of story.

Prayer and providence

Benevacantists are extremely dismayed at the state of the Church and the world, and rightly so, because both are in ghastly shape.  It is this, I submit, that helps explain their tenacious attachment to a theory that collapses pretty quickly on close inspection.  Benevacantism seems to provide a solution to the difficulties posed by Francis’s problematic words and actions.  In fact, as I have shown in previous commentary on this subject, it makes things far, far worse.  But it can be emotionally satisfying, because it licenses criticizing Francis in a vituperative and disrespectful manner that would not be justifiable if he really is pope. 

It is worth noting that Benedict too is clearly dismayed at the state of the Church and the world, and for the same reasons.  Asked about corruption in the Curia, the Vatileaks scandal, and the like, he makes it clear that the real problems run much deeper than such things:

However, the actual threat to the church, and so to the papacy, does not come from these things but from the global dictatorship of ostensibly humanist ideologies.  Contradicting them means being excluded from the basic social consensus.  A hundred years ago anyone would have found it absurd to speak of homosexual marriage.  Today anyone opposing it is socially excommunicated.  The same goes for abortion and creating human beings in a laboratory.  Modern society is formulating an anti-Christian creed and opposing it is punished with social excommunication.  It is only natural to fear this spiritual power of Antichrist and it really needs help from the prayers of a whole diocese and the world church to resist it. (pp. 534-35)

Clearly, Benedict does not agree with those supporters of Pope Francis who pretend that concern about these matters is nothing more than a reflection of American right-wing culture war politics.  On the contrary, these issues concern fundamental Christian morality and an opposition to it that derives from nothing less than the “power of Antichrist.” 

Borrowing a metaphor from Gregory the Great, Benedict speaks of “the little ship of the church running into heavy storms” and proposes it as “an image of the church today, whose basic truth can hardly be disputed” (p. 537).  He also says, in response to a question about the condition of the Church:

St Augustine said of Jesus’ parables about the church that, on the one hand, many people in it are only apparently so, but are really against the church… [T]here are times in history in which God’s victory over the powers of evil is comfortingly visible, and times when the power of evil darkens everything (p. 539)

Asked about whether Pope Francis should have answered the dubia submitted by four cardinals in the wake of Amoris Laetitia, Benedict declines to answer on the grounds that the question “goes into too much detail about the government of the church,” but also says:

In the church among all humanity's troubles and the bewildering power of the evil spirit, the gentle power of God's goodness can still be recognized.  Although the darkness of successive eras will never simply leave the joy of being a Christian unalloyed [...] in the church and in the lives of individual Christians again and again there are moments in which we are deeply aware that the Lord loves us and that love means joy, is ‘happiness’. (p. 538)

It is hard not to see in this an attempt to offer encouragement to those disheartened by Amoris and its aftermath – and also an insinuation that the confusion that the controversy has caused in the Church reflects an attack by “the bewildering power of the evil spirit,” and the “darkness” of the present era.

If, as Benevacantists claim, Benedict really did think of himself as still possessing the munus of the papacy, it is inconceivable that he would not say and do more than he has done in the face of what he himself describes as the “heavy storms” currently facing the Church due to “the bewildering power of the evil spirit,” indeed the “spiritual power of Antichrist” which today “darkens everything.”  The only plausible explanation for why he has not done so is that he believes that Francis and Francis alone is pope and that any stronger words or actions on his part would threaten schism.  He obviously believes that weathering this storm requires prayer and trust in divine providence, rather than resort to crackpot theories.  It is ironic that many Benevacantists mock their critics for taking precisely this attitude which Benedict himself recommends.

Related reading:

Benevacantism is scandalous and pointless

Benedict is not the pope: A reply to some critics

The Church permits criticism of popes under certain circumstances

Pope Francis’s scarlet letter

Popes, heresy, and papal heresy

Papal fallibility

48 comments:

  1. "...if Benedict’s understanding of the nature of the papal office is so deficient that he does not even realize that he is himself pope, and instead embraces an antipope, how is he any more reliable as a teacher of doctrine than Francis? Wouldn’t this grave doctrinal error indicate that he is an antipope? Wouldn’t his being in communion with an antipope entail that he is also a schismatic, and indeed that he is in schism with himself? Wouldn’t his failure to appoint cardinals validly to elect his successor (instead leaving it to the alleged antipope Francis invalidly to make such appointments) entail that he has essentially destroyed the papal office for all time, by making it impossible ever again to have a valid papal election? How, given all of this, can Benevacantists still regard Benedict as a hero any more than they regard Francis as such? How can they avoid going full sedevacantist?"

    In response to this particular line of questioning, can't they just say he isn't speaking "ex cathedra"? Don't you do the same thing when Francis acts or speaks in ways incoherent with a conservative view of Roman Catholicism?

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    1. Yes they can say that but it doesn't keep them from looking profoundly silly.

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    2. Doesn't the same then apply to you?

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    3. I suppose that people like Ed and Son could argue that the benevacantist position needs a thinner separation between a pope speaking ex cathedra and his regular teaching, so they will look silly if they try to do the same move.

      That seems to be the case with what i can see of people online who tend to argue against Francis being pope by using certain acts or phrases of his as proof of he teaching heresy, which would be infalible teaching if he was a real pope.

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  2. Nice Post Professor Feser!
    However with regards to his metaphor of the "Little Flock", I don't think it's right to see it within the context of just today's circumstances and that the idea is relevant only because of current events. I think it's more reflective of Pope Benedict XVI's theological outlook in general. The man has been saying more or less the same thing since 1959, here is a quote from "The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood" published in 1959
    "The last and highest mission of the Christian in relation to nonbelievers is to suffer for them and in their place as the Master did. At the end of his
    life, only a few days before his Passion, Christ described his life's mission in these words: "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his love as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45). These words express not only the basic law of Christ's own life, but the basic law of all Christian discipleship. The disciples of Christ will always be few", as the Lord said, and as such stand before the mass, the "many", as Jesus, the one, stands before the many (that is, the whole of mankind). "For the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Mt 7:14; cf. v. 13: the "many" are those who go by the easy way to destruction). "The laborers are few" (Mt 9:37); "Few are chosen" (Mt 22:14, in contrast to the "many" called); "Fear not, little flock" (Lk 12:32): "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves" (Mt 10:16). The disciples of Jesus are few, but as Jesus himself was one "for the many", so it will always be their mission to be not against but "for the many". When all other ways fail, there will always remain the royal way of vicarious suffering by the side of the Lord. It is in her defeat that the Church constantly achieves her highest victory and stands nearest to Christ. It is when she is called to suffer for others that she achieves her highest mission: the exchange of fate with the wayward brother and thus his secret restoration to full sonship and full brotherhood. Seen in this way, the relationship between the "few" and the "many" reveals the true measure of the Church's catholicity. In external numbers it will never be fully "catholic" (that is, all-embracing), but will always remain a small flock smaller even than statistics suggest, statistics which lie when they call many "brothers" who are in fact merely pseudadelphoi, Christians by name only. In her suffering and love, however, she will always stand for the "many", for all. In her love and her suffering she surmounts all frontiers and is truly "catholic". "
    In 1959 he was already suggesting that the Church is smaller then it appears, but it also important to note that for Benedict this little flock doesn't exist isolated from the many but they exist for the many. They are called to pray and suffer for the many so that they may be saved. God wishes to save the many through the few. This also involves the general missionary impulse to evangelise and spread the good news.It's pertinent to note that as mentioned in the blog post, Pope Benedict 's solution to the Anti-Christ is primarily prayer.
    As for Pope Benedict's comments with regards to Amoris and darkness, Prof Feser's exposition of it seems generally right although it seems note worthy that Pope Benedict xvi mentioned " God's Gentle Power", which atleast suggests that the goodness of God's powers are not to be found in the boisterous, over the top displays

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  3. I also agree with Prof Feser that concern about those moral issues are not just a reflection of culture war politics but concerns fundamental Christian Morality. And perhaps it is more symbolic of the crisis in the west. I would avoid saying that it is a crisis of the world in general because the prevailing attitudes in Asian countries like India and Japan are still very predominantly in favour of traditional sexual morality with regards to traditional marriage and abstinence before marriage. The vast majority of those people in those countries adhere to those norms.Perhaps we should stop seeing politics as a solution.It's important that change appears at the most fundamental levels, like that of the youth. Perhaps one could learn from the Asian countries and try to implement a more competitive and goal oriented developmental environment for children where they automatically get a sense of what actions to avoid ( things like pre marital sex) and what to pursue if they are to be fulfilled in life. Asian kids have a better formation in learning to do the right thing at the right time (first focusing on studies, then getting job then settling down etc). That is why Indian's and East Asians tend to live fulfilled life.




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  4. Very well stated. Perhaps in fact the See is vacant due to antics of those who should no better.

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  5. Any discussion of politics today gives one the impression that something demonic is going on. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks something is off.

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  6. The "Benevacantist" phenomenon seems to be just one more sad consequence of the crisis within and outside the Church since Vatican II.One part of this is the multiplication of anti-papal groupies, especially in North American (and German) Catholicism. It ties in with Archbishop Vigano and Kwasneswski (of "exorcise the spirit of Vatican One!" fame) etc. Neo-Gallicanism masquerading as tradition seeks to destroy the constitution of the Church, and compromise it with grubby conservative politics.

    The "mark" of you know who is their synergy with non-Catholic sects that hate the Papacy - with the Orthodox for example. Kwasnewsky's ritualism (tradition as a "Bible" that can't be added to or altered), plus rejection of all jurisdiction as a participation in the Pope's (he declares the Pope cannot remove a Bishop from a diocese without the bishop committing some crime!!!).

    Vigano and his acolytes have fallen in with the Bible Belt Rome-haters, declaring in his 2020 Letter to Trump that Trumpists, and all followers of non-woke religions to be the "Sons of Light" (for St. John, the Catholics of the End Times). These frauds are not tradition.

    Just like the Renaissance we have a bunch of Popes to complain about. Just like then, we have holier-than-though creeps leading flocks away from Peter and the Church. The time for niceness with these false shepherds is over.

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    1. Radtrads who hate on the Pope serve the Devil. LeftCaths who believe there is nothing wrong with this Pope are oot to lunch. I have little respect for either view as the proponents of said views has no ability to dialog or debate or even to see the other side.

      Benevacantists are mad like the SSPX fanatics.

      Francis has done some very very questionable stuff. The best ye can do is respectfully call him out on it and distance yerself from his more extremist critics. His more extremist defenders like Mike Lewis are just as bad.

      Lewis is Kwasneswski in reverse.

      As for Vigano ye had one job old man and ye blew it.


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    2. Well said, Son of Yakov!

      Mike Lewis seems to have some really deficient conception of the nature of the papacy which in the literal sense negates the use of any reason.

      It's actually sad, what has happened to Peter Kwasneswski. He seemed to be qu

      I actually think it's a symptom of networking and social media in general.

      It sort of appeals to people's narcissistic tendencies and compels them to voice out their views and opinions because they know that they will get some traction in some form or the other. There just seems to be an audience for every point of view.

      In the old days, people use to have some thought or point of view and it would largely remain among themselves and their inner circle because no one really gave a damn about it.

      Social Media turns every average Joe into some virtual cult leader.

      I don't know what is the solution to it though, I guess that it would be something along the lines of avoiding social media entirely, focus on the people who are closest to you, your family etc, find something interesting to do like sports, comic books etc.

      The reason why sports and the like are popular is because it unites people who otherwise don't know each other in a special way. That feeling of cheering and celebrating with a total stranger. That person might hold beliefs that are contrary to yours in almost every sense but in that single moment it doesn't matter, because ya'll have connected at the human level as two fellow human beings who enjoy this great game.

      It's something that is sorely needed in our times to counteract this tendency towards narcissism and tribalism that ultimately leads to some kind of twitter showdown and probably rendering the warring factions as incapable of even sharing a drink together. It's funny how someone's online personality can make us avoid the person even in real life and avoid any congeniality towards them.

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  7. I still think there are concerns about the election of Francis. If not, why did JPII write about his concerns. I think he could see it coming.

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    1. Did JPII write about his concerns that Francis would be elected?

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    2. He wrote about his concerns about the election process and it’s possible corruption.

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    3. https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_22021996_universi-dominici-gregis.html

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  8. If Francis blames traditionalists for schism and forces everyone to take an oath of loyalty to his magisterium don’t do it, for then he’ll do what he’s been planing for years.

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  9. Again Feser avoids the real argument. It's like arguing with the vaccinated who think they are on their high horses where in reality they are digging their own graves. Keep getting your boosters!

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  10. I think this essay does more to prove the Benedict is Pope position. Benedict says here that the papal office "concerns being" as well as function. In other words, he holds that it has a sacramental/ontological quality. Therefore he remains pope in his inner being after resignation, like a retired priest or bishop remains a priest or bishop. And the fact that he refuses to criticize Francis' governance only shows that Benedict has totally remounced the active ministerium and view Francis as pope. In other words he holds an impossible theological position regarding the papacy and thus did not validly resign.

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    1. People who hold impossible theological positions are good popes?

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    2. Greetings Dear Friend

      A proper understanding of the papacy isn't required for a valid resignation, if that was the case it would be virtually impossible to resign. All that is required for a valid resignation, is that it is not coerced.

      A perfect understanding of the papacy is impossible to achieve in this life. And to the extent that the papacy has a theological dimension it also falls under the realm of speculation. The Church allows this speculation if it does not contradict any church teaching.

      Now since it is "speculation" , there is the possibility that it may be wrong, we can never be sure of it.

      So now take for example ,Theologian A has a theory about the papacy and Theologian B (It could be you as well) has a different but acceptable theory of the papacy.

      Theologian A goes on to become Pope (Pope A) and eventually resigns and he dies. He never changed his idea of the papacy.

      Now suppose that years later it was shown that theologian B's theory was in fact correct.

      Does that invalidate everything that happened ever since Pope A resigned, including his resignation ?

      I don't think that it would because it's not possible to have a wholly correct understanding of the papacy.
      A certain degree of error is permitted.

      So if error is permitted, resignation can't be dependent on a proper understanding, it would be only dependent on not being forced ,that means full freedom. Once that is there, all that is left to do is to declare that your position is vacant (no one occupies it) and that a new person has to be elected to occupy it because you have renounced it.

      Your position would entail that the idea of resignation itself is not compatible with the papacy and if you do hold that position then I guess it is a different discussion.

      Hope this is of some use.
      Cheers!

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    3. Benedict says here that the papal office "concerns being" as well as function. In other words, he holds that it has a sacramental/ontological quality. Therefore he remains pope in his inner being after resignation, like a retired priest or bishop remains a priest or bishop.

      It simply does not follow that "the papal office concerns being" implies that it constitutes a sacramental quality. The status of being "married" concerns being, i.e. is an ontological character, but this applies to ALL persons who are married, including those who are not Christians and who do not receive any sacraments. Furthermore, just like in marriage where a person can become married and then become not-married (by the death of his spouse), a person can take on the character of being pope and become not-the-pope by resignation. The fact that there has been a prior pope who resigned (followed by valid election generating a new valid pope) proves that the character of "being pope" , while an ontological character, is temporary.

      The Church has NEVER indicated that elevation to the papacy is a sacrament of the Church, and the person who is elevated to it (by election) does not receive a sacramental character (not to mention: not all sacramental characters are permanent: only baptism, confirmation, and holy orders are, and there are THREE not four "orders" to the priestly character - deacon, presbyter, and bishop).

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    4. I am the original commentator above.

      In response to Walter, no one said Benedict was a good pope. That is irrelevant.

      In response to Norm, in this case Benedict's understanding of the papacy is relevant. He resigned the ministerium even though Canon Law specifies the munus. Canon 333.2 requires his resignation to be properly manifested. It wan't and it is clear based on his theology and his actions since resignation why it was not. He comitted substantial error regarding the nature of his resignation, so, per Canon 188, and did not resign the munus.

      Tony, in the case of Benedict there is a whole lot of evidence that "concerns being" does mean a sacramental character.

      Someone should ask Benedict to say that the papacy is a purely juridical office, with special graces attached, and that it was with that understanding that he resigned its munus and ministerium. I don't think he would say that.

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  11. Bill Solomon: It is such a relief to read these articles, when the issue of Pope Francis being the pope is continuingly painted as only the choice of being a conspiracy theorist or a modernist. It's nice to know that there is always a mean, i.e. that pope Francis is a troublesome Pope but is the Pope; no matter how hidden the mean might be.

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  12. Dear Mr Feser,
    Thank you for addressing this massive problem.
    I say massive problem because that is exactly what Pope Benedict created on Feb 11th 2013.
    The visibility of Christs vicar on earth is no small thing and it has been smudged and foggied by Pope Benedicts indeterminate words and conduct and further sullied by the atrocious heterdox statements and conduct of Bergolio the man now claiming to be the bishop of Rome.
    You can look and argue the toss untill the cows come home, the theological point remains that a doubtful pope is not a pope.
    So please desist from comments that the matter is closed. It is not closed and the turmoil surrounding the Roman catholic papacy has been caused by Pope Benedict xv1 and will not end with his death.
    You also it seems to me have not addresed the core question of the relations any pope has with his flock. It is a spiritual relationship and therefore outside normal rational analysis.
    So to conclude the spiritual trust that catholics might expect from their papacy has been very seriously damaged and dented.
    In such a dire situation the safe theological course is to follow what one can be certain of ie Pope Benedict is the only valid pope despite a half baked problematic resignation.

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    1. Hi Anon

      What do you mean by the "spiritual relationship of the pope to his flock which is outside of any rational analysis",

      Again that would imply that one cannot ever resign as pope.

      Your discomfort with Pope Francis is understandable.

      But just think about it for a second, were you a Benevacantist in 2013 ?
      If Pope Francis had been completely orthodox in his approach would you have still been a Benevacantist, do ask yourself that earnestly, dear friend. You would have most probably regarded it as nonsensical.

      Benedict has done everything he can and said everything he could possibly say to affirm that he is not the Pope. He has literally said, "There is only one Pope, it is Francis".

      Your attempt to try and interpret his statements apart from it's most obvious meaning is actually the more dangerous theological position. Don't complicate it.

      The papacy isn't so complex that it requires deciphering, by nature it is supposed to be such that even a peasant can tell who the Pope is since all the laity aren't educated.

      And the peasant would take the most obvious meanings of the statement and come to the conclusion that Francis is the Pope.

      Any attempt to the contrary are contrary to what is the most obvious.

      Your position also puts such stringent conditions that we can actually never determine if anyone is truly the pope.

      Take this for example

      Prior to his election as Pope, Pope Benedict XVI said he never expected himself to become the Pope, indeed he never saw himself as the Pope prior to his election. He never desired a it. He was already getting ready to retire because of his advanced age

      Given those facts, one can ask questions like ,was he actually ever of sound mind to be elected as Pope in the first place, was he ever in full control of all his mental faculties to qualify as electable or was he just being coerced into it.

      One of the obvious conditions to be pope is that the person has to be sane but was Pope Benedict XVI sane at the time because if he was not that would invalidate his papacy.

      Now obviously one would retort that, Benedict did "seem" in control of his faculties, he was writing encyclicals that had his distinct theological imprint, he was giving speeches and interviews, writing books at the time so given all that, you would obviously say it's absurd to say that he wasn't qualified to be the Pope.

      But that's the point, you are making your judgement based on what seems "obvious".

      That is what most people are likely to conclude.

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    2. Also you might want to see it in this way , do you really think that a theory that is held by an extremely tiny subsection of the population, propagated mainly by insincere american online commentators who also have a financial incentive to propagate it, has got it right ? As opposed to the millions of faithful catholics around the world, millions of Austere ,God Fearing, Pro-Life, Pro- Traditional Marriage Catholics who are holy in every sense of the word but at the same time affirm that Francis is the Pope.

      Do you think that they all got it wrong because they based their judgement based upon what is most obvious ?

      Was their only mistake that they didn't come across that one youtube commentator who got it right because they were too busy leaving a normal life free of any big tech instruments like YouTube that would have led them Benevacantism ?

      If your initial foray into Benevacantism was through a youtube video, then you better reconsider your position because there are millions of faithful catholics out there without a phone, without you tube and they are spiritually in a much better place, they also happen to affirm Francis is Pope.

      YouTube is designed in such a way so as to lead you to that one video, that they know will ensnare your rational faculties. There is almost very little that happens online that is with your consent.

      Humble and Lower yourself down to the level of a peasant without gadgets and think like them.

      Benedict XVI in one of his interviews expressed his admiration and respect for the simple lay faithful, the ones that you will never hear about but yet led faithful lives. They were just simple people not luxurious, humble and poor. Benedict XVI loved those people dearly and he would never do something that would be too complex for them to understand.

      That is why follow what is the most obvious meaning like the commoners, not one which you have to wreck your brains over.

      Do spare a thought to think about what I have said.


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    3. Hello Norm.
      Thank you for your considerate and thoughtful reply.
      A popes relationship and bond with his flock is essentially spiritual and also perceptible by the senses.
      As a combination it is difficult to analyse as each catholic will respond differently to it.
      Of course any pope can resign but must do so in accordence with canon and divine law.
      Yes I initially saw no problem with Pope Benedicts alleged resignation but as time passed the statements of his putative successor eroded the confidence I had in the doctrinal integrity of Roman catholic teaching on faith and morals.
      I must then question why would any allegedly valid "pope" generate such a situation?
      I concluded that a truly valid pope would not do such a thing and therefore a serious grave problem has arisen in the Roman catholic papacy.
      To resolve this problem from the point of view of theological safety I can only give loyalty to Pope Benedict xvi and deem his putative successor either uncanonically elected or to have lost office due to heresy.

      As a cradle catholic I have been loyal to 6 successive popes and that loyalty now extends only to Pope Benedict xvi and to no other person.
      Sadly I also believe the papacy has been badly damaged by what happened on Feb 11th 2013 and that a large majority of Catholics now accept the status quo is not sufficient reason for me to do so.
      It would imply that truth is decided by majority opinion.
      My position is not decided by you tube but by serious examination of the grave doctrinal and theological problems ,seemingly admitted by yourself and certainly many others, concerning the alleged pontificate of Francis 1st.
      There are grave doubts surrounding that pontificate, it,s a true mess, caused by Pope Benedict xvi for reasons as yet unclear.
      The Vicar of Christ is a visible institution and must be so.
      Therefore the identity of that vicar is critical.
      The arguments are quite simple indeed.
      A bishop emeritus is still bishop.
      A pope emeritus is still pope.
      There can only be one pope as Pope Benedict has stated.
      Anyway , thank you again for your reply.
      Kind regards.
      Sean

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    4. Dear Sean

      Hello

      I am very grateful that you took some time to read my comments!

      I do feel really sorry for your predicament, it seems like you have suffered a lot in regards to your faith in the church.

      I shall keep you in my prayers.

      With regards to your reply, just a couple of quick points as I have a paper to prepare for.

      1.) Wow, six popes, that is a long beautiful life! Sean you have been faithful to the church for so long! Please don't abandon it now. The Church needs all its adherents. The Pope is only the head but the Church consists of the many saints in heaven and the true faithful on Earth. All of them together make up the church and all of them are integral members of the Church and, including you Sean. You are integral to the Church which is the total body of Christ. The Church needs you especially because the head is struggling.
      An erring and faltering Head is still a Head and it needs your prayers.

      2) I would humbly suggest that you look up papal history, there have actually been quite a few popes who have caused scandal. Perhaps if it isn't too much trouble , you may want to undertake a re-examination of your conclusion that no "Pope could cause scandle."

      Indeed as you admit, Benedict is the cause of the mess then he himself would be to blame for the entire scandal.

      You seem to beleive that he has good reasons for doing so but I don't think there could be any good reasons for what has been unleashed.

      Based on your reasoning then someone could take your reasoning further and conclude Benedict was never a Pope.

      The Cardinals that elected Francis were more or less the same ones which elected Benedict, it's just that there were some more which Benedict himself had appointed and a few older ones that had passed.

      3)
      My argument wasn't really that majority makes it right, it was more like, the "more obvious meaning" is the safer route to take because anything else undermines our ability to take anything seriously because one could always give it another angle.

      4.) This is just a suggestion, there are actually lot of Holy People in the world today, I suggest that you keep track of the works of the Thomistic Institute. Also even though things are bad at the moment, there is still a lot of beauty and goodness emanating from within the Church , there are catholics under life threatening persecution but are still carrying on for Christ and they do find strength in the Visible Church including its head (Pope Francis since it is he who usually appears on behalf of the visible church) even though it tends to err frequently . So it isn't as if the visible church and it's effect, have been rendered completely ineffective. There are problems but it will get better.

      Anyways thanks for the interaction. God bless you.

      I apologise if I was at any point condescending especially with regards to that youtube thing.




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    5. Dear Norm.
      The Catholic Church has but one head and that is Jesus Christ. Popes are but temporary visible chief vicars and visible heads on earth of that church.
      I am absolutely certain that Benedict was elected and remains an entirely valid pope.
      If Pope Emeritus then Vicar of Christ Emeritus.
      The entire set up is spiritually bizarre.
      It’s not a question at all of good or bad pope but a very grave question of just who is currently the Vicar of Christ on this earth.
      It is certainly Pope Benedict given the fact that “Francis 1st” has actually officially relegated that title to an historical footnote.
      It is morally impossible for me to follow an individual like “Francis 1st “ who plays fast and loose with core tenets of catholic doctrine.
      I urge all Catholics to avoid him and pray for Pope Benedict only.
      Regards
      Sean.

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  13. I don't know whether it is true, but Bergoglio is supposedly to be soon issuing some document that guts Humanae Vitae. Considering his reign, it seems like there's nothing to prevent him because he's gutted Summorum Pontificum, and the traditional teaching on the death penalty, and so on. All that merely destroys Church government, which is based on stare decisis. Now one pope can completely undo what another ruled as dogma. Hence, utter chaos, and obviously a plethora or "Catholic" Churches will result.

    But I do have a question I would like to read what you here who defend "Francis is pope" would answer. It is: What does the man have to do? Nix the Holy Trinity and declare instead a Holy Duality. Declare Muhammad to have been a true prophet? (We're coming up on the opening/dedication of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, so why not? JPII kissed the Koran.) But honestly, truly, just looking at the last decade of Francis, I honestly wonder: what does PF have to do? I.e. Is there a limit? Or none?

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  14. As of this Post on this date Benedict is not the Pope. Francis is the Pope. That will only change if Francis retires or God calls him home and the next Pope calls himself Benedict. Till then Benedict is NOT THE POPE! Francis is Pope.

    Get over it and move on. Francis won't be Pope forever so dinny fash yerselves...

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    1. As of this post this date Benedict xvi remains the sole valid pope. A bishop emeritus remains a bishop and likewise a pope emeritus remains a pope. Since there can only be one pope at a time then logically that individual remains Benedict xvi.
      Get over it and now move on.

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  15. Dare Norm.Not sure if my earlier response was uploaded.
    Simply put a bishop emeritus is still a bishop.
    Therefore a pope emeritus is still a pope.
    And as Benedict xvi himself clearly stated there can only be one pope.
    Objective truth Is independent of the numbers accepting it.
    Popes can indeed resign but a doubtful resignation combined with a suspicious conclave is the worst of all possible outcomes. Therefore as I keep repeating the safe theological option is to go with the status quo ante.
    Thank you for your considered reply.

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    1. " Simply put a bishop emeritus is still a bishop. Therefore a pope emeritus is still a pope."

      But that's not so simple. Bishop is third degree of Order Sacrament. Pope is not. Church never said being pope is a Sacrament.

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    2. Anonymous
      If a Pope Emeritus is still a Pope and then can only be one Pope, how can a pope resign then?

      It seems to me you are mixing two things here.
      The first is whether a pope can really resign.
      The second has to do with a conclave.
      But if the conclave that elected Francis was suspiscious, it would have been just as suspicious if Benedict had died. only in that case, there would have been no Pope at all.

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    3. But Benedict thinks the papacy is a type of sacrament. Thats the kernal of the problem.
      It is an error and just one of the many surrounding his botched non manifested resignation

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  16. It's a lot worse than you all think. Francis is going to put the USA under papal interdict because our right-wing bishops have disrespected him.

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  17. A question to ponder: Can a corrupt group of cardinals corrupt an election of a pope? I think this may be a relevant question to ponder for some time in the forseable future of our Catholic Chiurch. JPII pondered this in this apostolic constitution https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_22021996_universi-dominici-gregis.htm
    I think he knew this wouuld be an important issue for the future Church. He knew of the corruption in Cardinals strengthening in the Church and their efforts to politically act to get their chosen pope candidate elected. These actions are not in the Spirit of the conclave electing a pope. This is the big issue to ponder in my opinion. Is it possible to reform the election process to guard against political abuses before the conclave begins and during the conclave. The Church probably never considered any of this in modern times or maybe in any times. Is it time to revise the election process to put in controls to reduce political corruption to elect a pope not faithful to the authentic teachings of the Church. (Maybe the existence of Christian philosophical principles should also be considered in screening candidates or other criteria - similar the the oath that Catholic Universities tried to implement for professors).

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    1. I have little knowledge on these matters but i ask: were not these elections already corrupt on the end of the medieval-renaissance periods? I think that on these times we had political reasons guiding things a lot.

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    2. Aye Talmid.

      Yes, Quite true.

      I was about to make a similar point.

      The elections were not so transparent at that time as well which is probably why there are quite a few wayward Popes.

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    3. The rules on the election of a pope make it clear that cardinals are not allowed to do things like collude beforehand to engineer a specific result. However, they ALSO make it clear that such behavior does not invalidate an election.

      I think that the only plausible way the cardinals could vitiate an election so that it was invalid is for some of them to apply violence or some kind of threat to force other cardinals to vote a certain way.

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    4. Who is the they that define this? Can you give me a quote from somewhere?

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  18. Would that be a reason to do nothing about the risks?

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  19. I don’t think transparency is the root cause problem. Something to think about is whether any controls, laws etc. can prevent evil actions of a political nature to be reduced.

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  20. I read the arrogantly titled "Introduction to Christianity" by Fr Ratzinger. Last time Ill read anything by that guy! Purposely incomprehensible

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  21. Perhaps the fact of disunity in what appears to be the Catholic Church is the most potent evidence of fakeness

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    1. The disunity lies in the emergence of then false philosophical idea of nominalism which corrupted some theology inspired by it in the form of modernism to this day.

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