Could it be a Mortal Sin to Claim that Francis is Infallibly Definitely the Pope if there are Overwhelming Detailed "Reasonable Motive[s] [to] hold...the Person of the Pope in Suspicion"?
Francis's closest adviser, Cardinal Oscar R. Maradiaga, apparently said and implied that there were “'pre-conclave' meetings” for Francis's seemingly post conclave planned supposed future papacy which sounds like this brings into play Cardinal Burkes' the "only grounds that could be used for calling into question the validity of the election would be were the election organized by a campaign beforehand which is strictly forbidden." - The Catholic MonitorSaint Cardinal Thomas Cajetan... wrote a multi-volume commentary on the Suma Theologica. And this is what Saint Cajetan says, “If someone for a reasonable motive holds the person of the Pope in suspicion and refuses his presence, even his jurisdiction, he does not commit the delict of schism, nor any other whatsoever, provided that he’d be ready to accept the Pope were he not held in suspicion. It goes without saying that one has the right to avoid what is harmful and to ward off dangers. In fact, it may happen that the Pope could govern tyrannically, and that is all the easier as he is the more powerful and does not fear any punishment from anyone on earth.” - Dr. Edmund Mazza
If someone has definite solid reasons from canon law and common sense to doubt the validity of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation and the validity of Francis's papacy can one commit a mortal sin if he doesn't resolve that doubts before claiming Francis is definitely infallibly pope?
The important theological book "Rodriguez and the Confession of Doubtful Mortal Sins" in page 225 says:
"If one does not resolve the doubt and deliberately does the action anyhow, it means that he is willing to offend God gravely, and therefore he commits a mortal sin."
(Google: Theological Studies -cdn- 1 PDF by U. Adelman - Cited by 1 Related articles)
Now please read carefully the following:
"The only sane conclusion is, therefore, that munus and ministerium are distinct terms with different meanings. They cannot substitute for one another in any sentence in which their proper senses are employed. Munus can substitute for officium, when officium means that which regards a title or dignity or ecclesiastical office."
- Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Latin language expert Br. Alexis Bugnolo says the only
correct way to approach the validity or invalidity of Pope Benedict
XVI's resignation is an objective reading of what the two words
ministerium and munus mean by means of using canon 17's criteria and not
a subjective reading of what the two words may possibly have meant in
the mind of Benedict:
"Canon 17 requires that Canon 332 S2 be read in accord with the meaning of canon 145 S1 and canon 41... 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)
When I read that I thought it would be extremely helpful if he could go into detail on the above by going into canon 17, canon 332 S2, canon 145 S1 and canon 41. He has done just that.
But, before we get to that it is important to understand that Pope John Paul II promulgated the current canon law which is the supreme law of the Catholic Church.
Moreover, it is important to understand that canon 17 is the key to understanding the supreme law of the Church.
Canon lawyer Edward Peters explains:
"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.'"
(CatholicWorld Report, "Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded," September 28, 2017)
Br. Bugnolo has explained in overwhelming detail in the following treatise using canon law why certain Francis is infallibly definitely the pope pundits are wrong in saying ministerium and munus are synonyms that mean the exact same thing or nearly the exact same thing:
Historian Dr. Edmund Mazza, also, explains in overwhelming detail some other problems with the Francis is infallibly definitely the pope opinions in his rebuttal of Roberto de Mattei's ideas:
Dr. Roberto de Mattei in a July 1st column in which he accuses a segment of “conservative” Catholics of wishing to substitute the old Pope, Benedict, for the new Pope, Francis:
Benedict by giving himself the title Pope Emeritus, by continuing to wear white and imparting apostolic blessings, has engaged in gestures which seem to encourage this impervious work of substituting the new Pope with the old one. The princeps argumentation is however the distinction between munus and ministerium, whereby it seemed Benedict wanted to keep for himself a sort of mystical papacy, leaving Francis with the exercise of government. The origin of the thesis goes back to a discourse by Monsignor Georg Gänswein of May 20, 2016 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, wherein he stated that Pope Benedict had not abandoned his office, but had given it a new collegial dimension, rendering it a quasi-shared ministry(«als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst»).
De Mattei expresses his fear that “conservative” belief in an “invisible” true pope (Benedict) is the revival of
The thesis of the French visionary Jean de Roquetaillade (1310-1365), whereby shortly before the end times, an “angelic Pope” would appear at the head of an invisible Church, is a myth spread by many pseudo-prophets, but never accepted by the Church. Is this the road that a part of the conservative world is embarking on?
And yet, an “invisible” or “mystic papacy” is not the personal fantasy of a clique of eccentric Catholic bloggers, nor of the Prefect of the Papal Household, it is the repeated public testimony of his master of some decades–Pope “Emeritus” Benedict XVI himself.
In 2017, Last Testament: In His Own Words, was published in which journalist Peter Seewald conducted a lengthy interview with Benedict. At one point, Seewald pointedly asks him: “Is a slowdown in the ability to perform, reason enough to climb down from the chair of Peter?” And Benedict replies:
One can of course make that accusation, but it would be a functional misunderstanding. The follower [successor] of Peter is not merely bound to a function; the office [munus] enters into your very being. In this regard, fulfilling a function is not the only criterion. (Emphasis mine)
What “accusation”? What “misunderstanding”? A simple “yes,” would do.
But Benedict does not give a “yes” or “no” answer to this straightforward question. All the more bizarre, since his answer, in fact, must be a “yes,” or otherwise he is contradicting the very reason he gave for stepping down in his official resignation speech:
I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine office [non iam aptas esse ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum]… strength…has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry [ministerium] entrusted to me. For this reason…I declare that I renounce the ministry [ministerio] of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter…
But in his answer to Seewald, Benedict explains that a physical “slow-down” only affects the “functions” or “ministry” of a pope, his day-to-day tasks like any other official. But being Pope, Benedict insists, is not fundamentally about doing this or that, it’s about being. His answer is an ontological one: “the office [munus] enters into your very being,” not the “function” or “ministry,” but the office.
Seewald then observes: “One objection is that the papacy has been secularized by the resignation; that it is no longer a unique office but an office like any other.” Benedict replies:
I had to…consider whether or not functionalism would completely encroach on the papacy …Earlier, bishops were not allowed to resign…a number of bishops…said ‘I am a father and that I’ll stay’, because you can’t simply stop being a father; stopping is a functionalization and secularization, something from the sort of concept of public office that shouldn’t apply to a bishop. To that I must reply: even a father’s role stops. Of course a father does not stop being a father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such… If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function… one comes to understand that the office [munus] of the Pope has lost none of its greatness…(Emphasis mine)
And in Seewald’s latest interview released in German this past May, Pope Benedict doubles down on his “Petrine” status:
This word “emerito” meant that he was no longer an active bishop but was in the special relationship of a former bishop to his seat…the need was taken to define his office in relation to a real diocese without making him a second bishop of his diocese. The word “emerito” indicated that he had given up his office in full, but the spiritual connection to his previous seat was now also recognized as a legal quality. If, in general, a titular seat means pure legal fiction, from now on there was a special relationship to a seat that had been a life’s work…It does not create any participation in the concrete legal content of the episcopate, but at the same time sees the spiritual bond as a reality. So there are not two bishops, but there is a spiritual mandate, the essence of which is to serve from the inside, from the Lord, in praying with and for his previous bishopric.(Emphasis mine)
Seewald then directly asks His Holiness: “But does that also apply to the pope?”
It is not clear why this legal figure should not be applied to the Bishop of Rome either. [Nota bene: Benedict uses the word “pope” as a synonym for “bishop” of Rome. Literally, it means “papa.”] In this formula, both are given no specific legal power of attorney anymore, but a spiritual assignment that remains – albeit invisible. This legal-spiritual form avoids any thought of a coexistence of two popes: a bishopric can only have one owner. At the same time, a spiritual connection is expressed that cannot be removed under any circumstances.(Emphasis mine)
Benedict, then, repeatedly claims that he is not merely an ex-pope, but insists that as “Pope Emeritus” he has a REAL, ONTOLOGICAL, SPIRITUAL connection to the Episcopacy of the See of Rome THAT CANNOT BE REMOVED. Thus, despite the fact that Rome elected a new bishop named Francis in March 2013, this has not stopped Benedict, de Mattei notes, from imparting Apostolic blessings–in his own name–to the faithful.
Indeed, what are the faithful supposed to believe in such a situation?
My own examination of the data led me to the rather daring hypothesis that perhaps Benedict used his plenitudine potestas to separate the role of Vicar of Christ from Bishop of Rome!
In point of fact, consistent with his explanations to Seewald, Benedict in his official Declaratio of February 11, 2013, explicitly renounces only “the ministry of Bishop of Rome” and not the munus of Vicar of Christ. (Nota bene: never once in the entire corpus of canon law does the word ministerium substitute for the word munus.) A puzzling fact to be sure, since canon law specifically directs a pontiff to renounce his “munus.” Canon 332 §2 states: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounces his office [“munus” in the authoritative Latin], it is required for validity that the renunciation is made freely and be properly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone at all.”
At first, the “Mazza Hypothesis” seemed to some to be too outlandish or even downright heretical! But a cursory examination of the texts of the First Vatican Council (1869-70) as well as multiple manuals of dogmatic theology published just before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) confirm without question that the faithful may, indeed, hold the position that the Primacy of Peter, that is, his Vicarship of Christ, can be separated from the See of Rome; however, this could only be done by a reigning pope and never for light and transient reasons.
Now, it must be admitted, that this is a minority position among the theologians of the past five centuries. The great majority of the Church’s doctors have held that Peter’s (Christ’s Vicar) establishing his Primacy at Rome is of “Divine Right” and thus unalterable. So, let us play Devil’s advocate…
Scenario #1: The Error
“The Vicarship of Christ is indissoluble from the Episcopacy of Rome.” Let us say that this is the case and let us also propose for the sake of argument that in March 2013, Pope Francis became Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome. But “His Holiness” Benedict XVI insists that he still has “a spiritual connection…that cannot be removed under any circumstances” from the See of Rome. Indeed, it is the sole reason he continues to wear papal white, issue Apostolic blessings, and reside in the Vatican.
But, if the Vicarship of Christ is indissoluble from the Episcopacy of Rome, and Benedict claims his connection is indissoluble from the Episcopacy of Rome, then either he is the Vicar of Christ–or he is Vicar Emeritus of Christ!
Let us walk through the logic of Scenario #1…methodically.
Benedict insists he is no longer “pope” in the sense of “bishop” of Rome; Francis is. Benedict then, is Bishop Emeritus or Pope Emeritus, but this does not mean he has left “the enclosure of St. Peter.” No, a real, metaphysical, spiritual “connection” exists between him and his “former” diocese. If true, however, Benedict MUST possess not only a real, metaphysical, spiritual “connection” with the Episcopacy of the See of Rome–but with the Vicarship of Christ, since again, we are laboring under the assumption that such a Vicarship is inseparable from the See of Rome. This means Benedict cannot be Pope Emeritus of the Diocese of Rome without simultaneously being Vicar Emeritus of Christ.
Vicar Emeritus of Christ? What on earth is that supposed to be?
Our Lord and Savior turned His Apostle Simon into the “Rock,” “Peter” on which He built His Church. He gave the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter so that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:16-19). Christ the King thus makes Peter (and his successors) his Vicar or Steward, one who shepherds the flock in place of Christ until He comes again. While the location of Peter’s Vicaring changed throughout his life, what CANNOT change according to Catholic teaching is that ONE man and ONE man alone is “personally responsible” for Christ’s flock or has the “total power of the keys over the Universal Church.”
What then of Vicar Emeritus? A hypothetical Vicar Emeritus of Christ would be a man who, though not the current Vicar of Christ, still had a real, metaphysical, spiritual participation in Peter’s Vicaring or Pastoring over the universal Church.
But this would mean that the current Vicar of Christ would not have total power over the Church and this is a substantial theological error. As Msgr. G. Van Noort says:
For if the plenitude of sacred power were to reside in [more than one]…in such a fashion that the [current] pope had more power than [the other]…he would still possess only the largest share of that power; but he would not strictly possess the total power without any restriction. In that hypothesis, the power of the Roman pontiff could still be called “supreme,” but it would not be absolutely complete in itself. It is true that in the aforesaid hypothesis no individual… would have power equal to the pope but the power of the pontiff would not be absolutely complete in itself.
To deny that the Primacy of the Vicar of Christ is restricted to one man is a proposition that has been historically condemned. In 1645, during the height of the errors of Jansenism, an anonymous pamphlet, De Auctoritate S. Petri et S. Pauli (possibly by an author named Arnauld) along with two other works began to circulate widely, claiming that St. Paul shared the Primacy with St. Peter:
It got to the point that Innocent X, by a decree of the Holy Inquisition in 1647 proscribed both the three aforementioned pamphlets, and also the proposition that Peter and Paul are the two heads of the Church, who form a singular thing, in the meaning understood that they posit every sort of equality between Peter and Paul without the subordination and subjugation of Paul to Peter in the supreme [total] power and governance of the universal Church.
Catholics must hold that St. Paul acted as an auxiliary bishop of Rome, or by means of his own Apostolic authority, but only with permission from Rome’s only bishop and Christ’s only Vicar: St. Peter. To say as Gänswein, his office had a “collegial dimension, rendering it a quasi-shared ministry” is error!
If the Primacy or Vicarship of Christ cannot be shared by two, then there can be no Vicar Emeritus of Christ. But if there can be no Vicar Emeritus of Christ, there can be no Pope/Bishop Emeritus of Rome, because Vicar of Christ is inseparable from Pope/Bishop of Rome.
So, under Scenario #1, Pope Benedict’s resignation was made out of “substantial error,” even if his Declaratio seems valid enough on its face. Benedict, as the saying goes, thought he could have his cake–and eat it too! He thought he could give up the active governance of the Roman Church and yet remain within a spiritual mandate that is uniquely Peter’s own. According to canon law, Benedict’s resignation was, therefore, rendered ipso facto invalid. Canon 188 states: “A resignation made out of grave fear, that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.” This would mean Benedict remains the only Vicar of Christ and only Pope/Bishop of Rome. (To those who say only the wording of his Declaratio matters, therefore, he is not still pope, I would reply, as an expert confided to this author: “error must be in the mind, not in the words either written or spoken, because if it were just in the words it would affect the declaration of his will, not his will itself.”
That being said, “we are to infer the mental picture and intention of the author, first and foremost, from the words he chose.” So, the Declaratio is still front and center. But, as we have seen, the most important words: “office/munus,” “Vicar of Christ/Primacy” are conspicuous for having NOT BEEN CHOSEN. This, coupled with Benedict’s statements during the month of February when as Vicar of Christ he crafted the office of Pope Emeritus–not to mention the multiple Seewald interviews and infamous Gänswein speech in the years since then–leave no room for doubt that Benedict intended to remain PAPAL on some ONTOLOGICAL plane, regardless of whether this is really metaphysically possible or not. Benedict tells Seewald: “I was well aware that the situation of Celestine V [last man to voluntarily resign the papacy entirely] was unique and could not serve as a model [for his own action] in any way.”
Benedict’s error, of course, would also invalidate the election of Jorge Bergoglio. But when “certain conservatives” in strict adherence to the rules of canon law, point this out, de Mattei raises the specter of schism. Space does not allow a proper rebuttal, a brief quote Fr. E. Sylvester Berry will have to suffice for now: “When there is a prudent doubt about the validity of an election to any official position…no one is bound to obey him, for it is an axiom that a doubtful law begets no obligation.”
Indeed, Berry quotes no less an authority than St. Robert Bellarmine that in the case of multiple dubious claimants to the Chair of Peter, wherein a claimant refuses to resign, the bishops “can and ought to decide who is the legitimate pope” as at the Council of Constance (1414-1418).
Then there is Scenario #2: The Mirror
Let us suppose that Pope Benedict intended to separate the Vicarship of Christ from the Episcopacy of Rome and that it IS ontologically possible to do so. In this case, Benedict would be Pope/Bishop Emeritus of Rome. Having severed Vicar of Christ from the Episcopacy of Rome, there would no longer be any metaphysical impediment to a “Pope/Bishop Emeritus” of Rome. More importantly, Benedict would still be Vicar of Christ. Lastly, Francis would be the one duly elected Pope/Bishop of Rome. De Mattei, in fact, provides us with Gänswein’s honest affirmation of such in 2019: “there is only one Pope legitimately elected–and it is Francis.” But he would never have been Vicar of Christ because Benedict would have retained it even while he jettisoned his active governance of the See of Rome, which he bequeathed to its new bishop. Is it so preposterous to posit Francis as having only the Episcopacy of Rome, but lacking the Vicarship of Christ? His first speech from the balcony referred exclusively to his role as Shepherd of the “Urbi“–not the “Orbi.” Perhaps it is not without typological significance after all that Bergoglio possesses only one lung and not the usual pair!
In conclusion, this author can see no other way for a Pope Emeritus (as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has thus far defined and lived it) to exist in harmony with orthodox Catholic teaching without the prior separation of Vicar of Christ from Bishop of Rome, leaving in its wake two distinct elements, held by two different men.
Now critics, of course, will cry: Far-fetched speculation! Conspiracy theory! Ad hominem labels: the last resort of those without arguments.
Can we forget that the children of Fatima saw “‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’…”? (Emphasis mine)
Mirrors produce two where formerly there was one.
And since the subject has arisen, if only the full text of the Third Secret of Fatima would finally be released, it would put an end to all speculation and theorizing. Our Lady, herself, would provide just the answers which we devout laypersons informed by Tradition are seeking about the Papacy and the Church in the face of unprecedented apostasy.
We, “the rest of her seed” (Rev. 12:17), are dedicated to seeking out the Truth about God and His Church, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. We do not claim to have all the answers. We would more than welcome some enlightenment from genuine shepherds. “But a stranger they will not follow, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers” (Jn. 10:5).
Benedict, who has read the Third Secret, has said that he has written
a spiritual last testament. This author hopes His Holiness will shine
the “light of faith’s clarity” and dispel the shadows of “ambiguity”
which Benedict previously assured us, are always “the hallmark of the
devil.” “She shall crush [his]…head” (Gen. 3:15). “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). [https://www.barnhardt.biz/2020/07/15/mazza-rebuttal-of-de-mattei-robbing-peter-to-play-paul/]
Pray an Our Father now for reparation for the sins committed because of Francis's Amoris Laetitia.