Did Pope Benedict XVI Fully Resign?
David Martin | The Daily Knight
With the controversial buzz that surrounded the election of Pope Francis upon the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, it seems that we may have lost sight of a key element in this episode, namely, that Benedict never fully resigned the papacy.
In a 2016 book-length interview by Peter Seewald with Benedict XVI, the Holy Father tells the journalist: "The situation of [Pope] Celestine V was extremely peculiar and could in no way be invoked as my precedent."
Celestine V’s ‘peculiar situation’ was that he fully abdicated the papacy, that is, he laid off his papal munus and went back to being the simple monk Pietro da Morrone, and not Pope Emeritus as Benedict XVI did. What Benedict is saying is that he “in no way” relates to what Celestine did, that full abdication from the papacy is what he didn’t do.
What Benedict did do was to merely resign from the active exercise of the papacy without abandoning the Petrine office. On the eve of his resignation, he said:
“Anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church... The ‘always’ is also a ‘forever’ – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this.” (General Audience, February 27, 2013)
From the text we can infer that there has been no revocation of Benedict’s office. According to Church law, a pope must fully give up his office for his resignation to be valid. (Canon 332) The text indicates that Benedict XVI chose to retain his office "forever," which is why he continues to wear the white papal garb and to go by the name Benedict XVI.
This matches the explanation offered by 1 Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who serves as Prefect of the Pontifical Household. Speaking at the presentation of a new book on Benedict’s pontificate at the Pontifical Gregorian University on May 20, 2016, he told the press that Benedict XVI did not abandon the papacy as did Celestine V in 1294 but rather sought to continue his papal office in a way that better accommodated his frailty.
“He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step he took on 11 February 2013, he has not abandoned this ministry," adding that the renunciation of his office would have been "quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.”
What Gänswein is saying is that Benedict is still pope. “This is the reason why the correct appellation for him is ‘Your Holiness,’” Gänswein said. “This is finally the reason why he did not retire to an isolated monastery, but within the Vatican walls, as if to simply take a step aside to make space for his successor and for a new step in the history of the papacy.”
According to Gänswein, Benedict XVI's resignation announcement of February 11, 2013, marked the introduction of a new institution into the Catholic Church: "a de facto enlarged ministry, with both an active and a contemplative member." He said we now have "two living successors of Peter among us" that "are not in competition with each other," i.e. Benedict and Francis.
No Shared Papacy
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “shared papacy.” If Benedict occupies any dimension of the Petrine ministry Francis can occupy none of it, since two members of the Petrine office (popes) cannot coexist. And while Gänswein says the truth in acknowledging the continued papacy of Benedict, his explanation of a shared papacy is a derelict attempt to explain away the real issue surrounding Benedict XVI.
Benedict XVI Ousted
What it boils down to is that Benedict XVI was forced into vacating the Chair of Peter, but this was done under the guise of a resignation so as to not split the Barque of Peter asunder with controversy. Credible reports from 2015 indicate that Benedict XVI was coerced into stepping down, which was providentially foreshadowed in Benedict’s inaugural speech of April 24, 2005, when he said: "Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves."
We know from the late Cardinal Danneels of Brussels that he was part of the "San Gallen Mafia" reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI. Danneels, known for his support of abortion, LGBT rights, and gay-marriage, said in a taped interview in September 2015 that he and several cardinals were part of this "mafia" club that was calling for drastic changes in the Church, to make it "much more modern," and that the plan was to oust Benedict and have Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio head it.
This infamous clique comprised key members of the Vatican "gay lobby" that had clamored for Benedict's resignation, the same that had almost prevented his election in 2005. As the 2013 conclave neared, they held a series of closed meetings, known as congregations, one of which featured Cardinal Bergoglio as the keynote speaker.
On the eve of the conclave, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga was busily on the phone with cardinal electors from the Honduran embassy in Rome. His phone effort was the tail end of this intense lobbying campaign to secure votes for the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as pope.
That same day, Maradiaga attended a private meeting of Bergoglio supporters, which included key players in the “St. Gallen Mafia,” and together they garnered pledges for up to twenty-five votes for Bergoglio. Not surprisingly, Bergoglio opened with twenty-six votes on the first day of the conclave, though that number would rise to 77 on the second day indicating that this campaign effort was gaining ground. Three days later the newly elected Pope Francis asked Maradiaga to head his powerful new Council of Cardinals, known as the “Council of Nine.”
On August 27, 2018, Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin tweeted concerning this political campaign.
“Cdls Danneels & Ex-Cdl McCarrick campaigned for Bergoglio to be Pope, as did ++Maradiaga on eve of Conclave, phoning up various cardinals from the Honduran embassy in Rome. Despite their pasts, all 3 prelates have since been special advisors of Francis or rehabilitated by him.”
Rules and Regulations Violated
Clearly, there was intense politics and vote canvassing at work around the time of the conclave, which directly violated Pope John Paul II's 1996 Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, governing papal elections. Therein he makes it clear that vote canvassing among cardinal electors is strictly forbidden and incurs automatic excommunication. Consider the following from his Constitution:
“The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition.” (81)
This prohibition applies not only to the election itself but to that time just before the election when preparations are underway, since it is during this time that illicit political activity would exert its greatest influence on the vote. “Any form of pact” obliging electors “to give or deny their vote to a person” would be secured before the election.
The pope says in his Constitution:
“Confirming the prescriptions of my Predecessors, I likewise forbid anyone, even if he is a Cardinal, during the Pope’s lifetime and without having consulted him, to make plans concerning the election of his successor, or to promise votes, or to make decisions in this regard in private gatherings.” (79)
A clique of cardinals did “make plans” to force Benedict XVI’s resignation and to campaign for “the election of his successor,” with up to 25 cardinals “promising votes” the day before the election, this having come about through “private gatherings,” thus revealing the illicit conduct of those cardinal electors to be.
Under the pain of excommunication latae sententiae, Pope John Paul forbids “each and every Cardinal elector, present and future, as also the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and all other persons taking part in the preparation and carrying out of everything necessary for the election” to allow “all possible forms of interference, opposition and suggestion whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree, or any individual or group, might attempt to exercise influence on the election of the Pope.” (80)
Unfortunately, secular and political interference played the key part in Francis’ election. According to John Paul II, such interference renders the papal election null and void.
Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason 2 null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected. (76) Universi Dominici Gregis (February 22, 1996) | John Paul II
Hence it appears that the 2013 conclave conferred “no right on the one elected” since the election took place “in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution.” It should come as no surprise then that two shafts of lightning struck the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on February 11, 2013. Clearly, this signaled that divine wrath was looming over the Church.
Need for Episcopal Examination
It is high time that a committee of bishops convene to address the matter of Benedict’s resignation, seeing that it launched the most destructive pontificate of Church history. They need to bring into question his continuance in the Petrine office, the illicit nature of the 2013 conclave, and Francis’ destructive path.
Though Benedict relinquished his administrative powers to govern the Church, he retains his papal office in a similar way a bishop retains his episcopal office after relinquishing his administrative powers to govern a diocese. But unlike a bishop, a pope cannot have a replacement unless he lays off every vestige of papal dignity and abdicates his office.
It indeed is high time that an episcopal committee take a serious look at the matter of Benedict’s resignation lest the present “diabolical disorientation” lead to a total eclipse of the Faith. Our Lady at La Salette prophesied that “The Church will be in eclipse” and that “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of Antichrist” so those in ecclesiastical authority should make the truth known without further scruple to prevent complete darkness from overtaking the Church.
1. The same was also the personal secretary of Benedict XVI during his 8-year pontificate.
2. Only in cases of collusion involving simony does the pope lift the nullity in order that the election may remain valid (78).