I respect the scholar Dr. William Briggs, but think he was mistaken to post "Munus, Ministerium & Pope Emeritus Benedict — Guest Post by Fr John Rickert" in which the two above commenters on his site critiqued well the problem with the post with Stephen saying "Dr. Briggs... Pulling out a dictionary and dropping the mic isn’t enough of an analysis."
In June, the Latinist (Fr. Z) summarized some important points made in October and before that time by Catholic scholar Dr. Edmund Mazza on why "Pulling out a dictionary and dropping the mic isn’t enough of an analysis":
Let’s play the mind exercise out a little more and hack through some of the issues which I have heard raised by, for example, Ann Barnhardt, who is without question of the mind that Benedict is still Pope and Francis is a usurper antipope. Along with Ann is a smart fellow with well-articulated arguments, Edward Mazza...
... It seems that… in their view…
Benedict did NOT legitimately resign, because the language he used at the time he announced his resignation is confused. The confused language suggests that Benedict intended to resign the active dimension of his role, his ministerium (for example, doing stuff as Bishop of Rome and doing stuff as Pope to the larger world). However, he did not intend to resign his munus as Vicar of Christ. Much turns on the technical term munus.
The fact is that munus and ministerium do not mean the same thing, though they are often bound together. For example, one carries out a certain ministry in the Church because he holds an office, a munus. Canon law says that the Pope has to resign the munus.
Canon 332 §2: Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur. … If it should come to pass that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and that it be properly manifested, but not that it is accepted by anyone.
But Benedict said in his resignation:
Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commisso renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.… For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Words have meanings. It is not right simply to conflate munus and ministerium as if they are interchangeable. They are closely tied to each other but they are not synonyms. Not even close.
It is interesting to read the Canon that introduces the figure of the Roman Pontiff, the Pope:
Can. 331 — Ecclesiae Romanae Episcopus, in quo permanet munus a Domino singulariter Petro, primo Apostolorum, concessum et successoribus eius transmittendum, Collegii Episcoporum est caput, Vicarius Christi atque universae Ecclesiae his in terris Pastor; qui ideo vi muneris sui suprema, plena, immediata et universali in Ecclesia gaudet ordinaria potestate, quam semper libere exercere valet. … The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom persists the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely. [https://wdtprs.com/2021/06/the-question-of-two-popes-bothers-a-lot-of-people-some-thoughts/]
In an October interview on PCM, renowned Catholic historian Dr. Edmund Mazza, a former full professor of history at Azuza Pacific University agreed with Fr. Z that "Words have meanings. It is not right simply to conflate munus and ministerium as if they are interchangeable. They are closely tied to each other but they are not synonyms":
Canon law, as it is generally understood is pretty simple. It says Canon 332 part 2, says “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounces his office… “In the original Latin, of the 1983 code of Canon law, the word is munus. If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounces his munus, it is required for validity that the renunciation is made freely, and be properly manifested.” You know, which is why he gave a declartio on February 11th 2013, but not that it be accepted by anyone at all. It’s not like the pope has to turn in his resignation to a superior. He has no superior. The key thing here is, again he has to renounce his munus, his office. But, now we get back to the sacramental ontological munus versus the canonical juridical munus, if you will. Let me introduce a quote from Joseph Ratzinger from Principles of Catholic theology from 1987, available from Ignatius press. Basically he says, “I disagree with those who teach that “The papacy is not a sacrament that it is only a juridical institution, but this juridical institution has set itself above the sacramental order.”
Let me unpack that. Razinger is arguing that what’s important foremost is the sacramental ontological munus not the “office” that perhaps comes and goes. Obviously, Benedict ruffled a number of feathers with his renunciation and his taking on the office of Pope Emeritus, right? For example, Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, one of the dubia fathers, was very upset. Roberto De Matei, Dr. Matei was upset and Dr. Matei went on record saying, “look there is no such thing as a sacramental papacy. It is only a juridical institution.” Yet we have this quote. And, why is that? You could never lose it if it was sacramental, but you can lose it if it is just a juridical office...
... What does Joseph Ratzinger say? He says, “No, no, no. “I disagree with those people who say the papacy is not a sacrament, that it’s only a juridical institution. That juridical institution has set itself above the sacramental order.” Now here is another quote from Ratzinger right after the counsel. This is from his book Theological highlights of Vatican II, Published 1966 by Paulist Press.
Again another money line. “The ministry of the bishop, meaning munus in Latin is not an externally assigned administrative power, but rather, is itself sacramentally-based. The ruling of the church and its spiritual mystery are inseparable.”
Here’s another interesting quote, I’ll try to weave this in. The very month, February 2013, when Pope Benedict makes this renunciation. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a Jesuit, the former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and a very highly respected doctor of law, in of all publications it was Cattolica Civilta, the Jesuit- [La Civilta Cattolica]...
... He says that Ratzinger”s view of the sacramental ontological munus, when applied to the juridical office of the Bishop of Rome, is going to create major problems. Let me give you his exact words. “The greatest difficulty that arises from the affirmation, that the primacial power of the Roman pontiff comes from his Episcopal consecration and not from the acceptance of the election, would be that in the event that the pope resigned from his office, not because of death, he would never lose the power as it is conferred by a sacramental act, which has an indelible character.” Well, this is precisely what Benedict has stated in his interviews with Peter Seewald, why he’s Pope Emeritus, and not simply Bishop Emeritus, or Cardinal. It’s why he still issues apostolic blessings in his own name and why his proper form of address is still His Holiness, but here’s the wrinkle. Ghirlanda and other candidates and theologians not to mention centuries of saints and scholars hold that Ratzinger is just plain wrong and that’s not how it works.
He’s just wrong. Here’s the problem, if Ratzinger had ever been convinced of the real truth of the matter, I argue, he likely, would never have renounced the papacy, seeing as how committed he is to fulfilling his Petrine vow and living only for the Lord and his flock. So what do you call this? This is called substantial error. When your will chooses something based on the fact that your intellect has bad information. This is the theory that I personally hold to, why I think his resignation, or his renunciation was invalid. And I can go into more detail on that. [https://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2021/10/exclusive-transcription-is-benedict-xvi.html and https://www.thecatholicmonitor.com/2021/10/part-2-of-exclusive-transcription-is.html]
This words of Fr. Z and Dr. Mazza reminded me of a post I wrote in 2019 that asked "Why is LifeSiteNews Afraid to 'Investigate or Report' that apparently Canon 17 'Requires that Ministerium and Munus [must] be Understood as Referring to Two Different Things'?":
On December 6, LifeSiteNews co-founder
Lifesite has indeed reported on that. Perhaps you are disappointed that we have not taken a firm position on the controversy. As a news agency that is not our role.
Unfortunately, this is not exactly true. The news site has never reported on why "in canon law munus is never interchanged with ministerium," but instead spoke about the two words only referring to the "Latin dictionary (Lewis and Short)" and not in referring to the all important canon 17.
Canon lawyer Edward Peters explains canon 17's importance:
"Canon 17... states 'if the meaning [of the law, and UDG is a law] remains doubtful and obscure, recourse must be made to parallel places."
(Catholic World Report, "Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded," September 28, 2017)
On February 14, 2019, LifeSiteNews admitted that it is possible according to their quoted theologian that Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation could have been invalid. The LifeSiteNews theologian said the "abdication would be invalid only if he had in his mind the thought: 'I only want to resign the ministerium if it is in fact distinct from the munus.'”
But, the "theologian who spoke to LifeSiteNews on condition of anonymity" never mentioned canon 17:
“But ‘ministerium’ doesn’t have to mean acts,” he explained. “The first meaning given to it in the Latin dictionary (Lewis and Short) is ‘office.’ I would say that its basic meaning is ‘an office by reason of which one must perform acts to help others.’”
The theologian noted further that ‘munus’ doesn’t only mean a state. “According to the Latin dictionary, it can also refer to the performance of a duty,” he said. “It was used in this sense by Cicero and there is no more authoritative writer of Latin prose than him.”
"He said the main difference between the words appears to be simply that ‘munus’ connotes more “the burden which the office puts on its bearer,” and ‘ministerium’ connotes more “the reference to other people which the office establishes.”
“But that doesn’t prevent them from referring to one and the same office or state,” he added.
Why then did Pope Benedict say munus at the start of his Latin declaration and ministerium at the end, if he understood them to refer to the same reality? The theologian suggested two possibilities.
“One is simply that people who want to write elegant prose often avoid frequent repetitions of the same word,” he said. “Another is that the word ‘ministerium’ has perhaps a more humble sound to it, since it refers more directly to the papacy in its relation to other people, than as a charge placed on oneself. So having begun by using the official word, ‘munus,’ Benedict moved on to the more humble sounding word.”
The theologian went on to note that while Benedict was aware of theological writings from the 1970’s onward that proposed the Petrine munus could be divided, he is 'not aware of any place where Joseph Ratzinger endorses this thesis.”
He said the lack of clarity about Ratzinger’s position is aggravated by the fact that translators have mistranslated Ratzinger and presented him as endorsing heterodox ideas when in fact he was reporting someone else’s thought rather than expressing his own.
The theologian acknowledged that it is possible that Pope Benedict thought there might be a real distinction between munus and ministerium but was unsure. In that case, he said, Benedict’s abdication would be invalid only if he had in his mind the thought: “I only want to resign the ministerium if it is in fact distinct from the munus.”
But he said it would be equally possible that, being unsure whether there was a distinction, Benedict could have had in mind the thought: “I want to resign the ministerium whether or not it is distinct from the munus.” In that case, the theologian said he believes the resignation would have been valid."
“In any case,” he said, “I don’t think there is convincing evidence that Benedict thought there was a real distinction between the two things.”
“Again,” the theologian continued, “since according to Canon 15.2, error is not presumed about a law, the presumption must be that he validly renounced the papacy.”
Canon law and Latin language expert Br. Alexis Bugnolo says this is not a correct way to canonically and legally approach the resignation because canon law requires an objective reading of what the two words mean using canon 17's criteria as canon lawyer Peters explained and not a subjective reading of what the two words may possibly have meant in the mind of Benedict or in a Latin dictionary:
"Canon 17 requires that Canon 332 S2 be read in accord with the meaning of canon 145 S1 and canon 41... [which] requires that ministerium and munus be understood as referring to two different things."
(From Rome, "Ganswein, Brandmuller & Burke: Please read Canon 17, February 14, 2019)
Why does it appear that LifeSiteNews refuses or is afraid to "investigate or report on" that "Canon 17 requires that Canon 332 S2 be read in accord with the meaning of canon 145 S1 and canon 41... [which] requires that ministerium and munus be understood as referring to two different things."?
LifeSiteNews are you seeking the truth?
If you disagree with Br. Bugnolo's scholarly thesis then counter it with reasonable counter arguments otherwise you have revealed that you are not seeking the truth.
LifeSiteNews, please, refute the following if you're not afraid:
Br. Bugnolo has explained in overwhelming detail in the following treatise using canon law why canonists and others are wrong in saying ministerium and munus are synonyms that mean the exact same thing or nearly the exact same thing:
Munus and Ministerium: A Textual Study of their Usage
in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 by Br. Alexis Bugnolo ["This is a transcript of my first talk at the Conference on the Renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI, which took place at Rome on Oct 21, 2019, the full transcript of which is found here": https://fromrome.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/munus-and-ministerium-a-canonical-study/]
"Did you yourself not say, earlier in this same thread, that as a news agency it is not Lifesite's role to take a firm position on controversies like whether or not the man attempting to foist heresy after heresy on the one true Church is even the Pope in the first place? (Yet you take other editorial stands--some of them, very strong ones indeed.) In other words, my question to you is, why shy from making a determination in this one area alone? At the very least, why not insist that the Cardinals, specifically empowered by UD Gregis to resolve such doubts, undertake this responsibility on behalf of the entire Church? Your willingness to wash Lifesite's collective journalistic hands in this way strikes me as rather glib."
Too harsh? I thought the Liberals were supposed to be the snowflakes, not the conservatives. If Jalsevac wants the site he co-founded to be regarded as a serious news agency, it's time to pay his dues.
Pray an Our Father now for reparation for the sins committed because of Francis's Amoris Laetitia.