The Validity of Benedict’s Resignation, Part II: Ad Contrarium


By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

In the previous article, entitled, The Validity of Pope Benedict’s Resignation must be Questioned, I recited the history of the controversy over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on the topic of substantial error in the resignation and then proceeded to explicate 20+ arguments against the validity.

Here, I will list the arguments for the validity, inasmuch as I find and understand them. If you know of more, let me know in the comments section below.  After each argument pro-Validity, I will post, for the reader’s convenience the argument against it — deviating in this small manner from proper Scholastic form. There is no particular order among the arguments, but the strongest ones are at the end.

Whether Pope Benedict XVI by means of the act expressed in his address, “Non solum propter”, resigned the office of the Bishop of Rome?

Ad contrarium:

And it seems that he did:

1. Because, Pope Benedict XVI as pope is above Canon Law. Therefore, he does not need to resign according to the form of Canon 332 §2.  Therefore, he resigned validly.

Ad obj. 1: To argue that the Pope is above Canon Law, and therefore the resignation is valid, is a sophism, which when examined is equivalent to 2 other erroneous propositions, namely:  “The Pope as pope is above canon law, ergo etc.”, and “The Pope as the man who is the pope is above the Law, ergo etc.”  To the first, I say: In the first case it is true that the Pope as pope is above canon law. However, the Pope when renouncing his office, does not renounce as Pope, but as the man who is the pope. Therefore the argument is praeter rem.  To the second, I say: It is false to say the Pope as the man who is pope is above Canon Law, because the mind of the Legislator of the Code of Canon law, Pope John Paul II, in canon 332 §2, expressly declares when a papal resignation is such and is to be regarded as valid.  Therefore, if a pope resigned in a way which was valid, but which the Faithful had to regard as invalid according to the norm of that Canon, there would be chaos in the Church. However, in interpreting the mind of a legislator, one cannot presume any thesis which would make the law defective. Therefore, Pope John Paul II did intend to bind the man who is pope, in a papal resignation. Therefore, the second is false also.

2. Because it is clear that Pope Benedict wanted to resign. Therefore, he did resign. Therefore, his resignation is valid.

Ad obj. 2.: To argue that the Pope wanted to resign, therefore he did resign, is to employ a sophism which conceals an undistributed middle term. For if the pope wanted to resign the ministerium of the office, then he did resign the ministerium. But such a resignation is not conform with Canon 332 §2, since it does not resign the munus. Therefore, it is invalid.  Likewise, if the pope wanted to resign the munus, then he did NOT resign the munus if he said ministerium. And then even if he thought he did, its invalid, per canon 332 §2 according to the act, and according to canon 188 on account of substantial error.

3. Because Pope Benedict, after his resignation, publicly declared that he validly resigned. Therefore, he validly resigned.

Ad obj. 3.: To argue that the Pope resigned validly because after his resignation he publicly declared that he resigned validly, is to employ a subterfuge. Because in that public declaration he declares that he resigned the Petrine ministry validly. That he resigned the Petrine ministry validly, is not disputed. But if that is what he resigned, then he did not resign the munus. Therefore, that act did not effect a resignation of the office. Therefore if it be asserted to be a valid papal resignation, the assertion is false according to canon 332 §2.

4. Because, Pope Benedict, after his resignation, publicly declared that he freely resigned, therefore he resigned.

Ad obj. 4.: It is true that liberty in a resignation is one of the necessary conditions of a papal resignation according to Canon 332 §2, but it is not true that it is the only condition. The first condition is that it be a resignation of munus. It was not. Therefore, this argument is praeter rem.

5. Because, Cardinal Sodano, as Dean of the College of Cardinals, in convoking the College, acted as if it were valid, therefore it is valid.

Ad obj. 5: There is no Canon of the Church or special delegation by the Roman Pontiff which makes the decision of the Cardinal Deacon to call a conclave efficacious of the validity of an invalid resignation, or authoritatively determinative of the validity of a resignation. Therefore, that he did so, proves nothing. Nay, canon 332 §2 expressly denies this.

6. Because the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Successor of Pope Benedict, therefore by that act declared or made the resignation valid.

Ad obj. 6.:  There is no Canon of the Church or special delegation by the Roman Pontiff which makes the decision of the College of Cardinals to conclave or elect a Pope, efficacious of the validity of an invalid resignation, or authoritatively determinative of the validity of a resignation. Therefore, that they did so, proves nothing. Nay, canon 332 §2 expressly denies this.

7. Because the whole College of Cardinals after the resignation and after the Conclave of 2013 acts and holds that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the true and valid pope.

Ad obj. 7: I reply the same as for obj. 7.

8. Because the whole world accepts that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Pope Francis.

Ad obj. 8: Canon 332 §2 in saying, “and not whether it be accepted or not by anyone whomsoever” in its final phrase, expressly denies this. Therefore, it is false.

9. Because, a Catholic must hold as Pope, whomsoever the Cardinals, or the Bishops, or the Clergy of Rome, hold to be the Pope.

Ad obj. 9.: I reply the same, as to obj. 8.

10. Because the election of a Pope by the Cardinals is a dogmatic fact, which all Catholics must accept.

Ad obj. 10.: While it be true that the valid election of a Pope by the Cardinals is a dogmatic fact which all Catholics must accept, it is not true if the election were invalid. But an election is invalid if the previous pope is still living and has not yet validly resigned. Therefore, this objection is invalid, inasmuch as the resignation be invalid. Therefore, of its self it is insufficient to prove the point argued.

11. Because the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a papal act, which cannot be questioned, according to the addage: prima sedes a nemini iudicatur.

Ad obj. 11.: While it is true that the acts of the Roman Pontiff are juridical acts which cannot be questioned, it is not true that declarations made in the first person by the man who is pope, which are the matter of such acts or declarations, cannot be judged. That such an act can be judged is proven by Canon 332 §2 which judges such acts. That such matter of the papal act is not an act of the pope as pope, has already been proven above.  —  If you say, that the act of declaration (“I declare”) is a papal act, not the act of the man, therefore it must be held to be valid, since the Pope is the supreme legislator and arbiter of the meaning of canonical acts, it must be responded that the declaration is made in the first person singular, not the first person plural, so the supreme legislator has already explicitly renounced his role in the declaration of the resignation.

12. Because, a Catholic in good conscience must presume, that if the resignation were not valid on account of the use of the word ministerium not munus in the key phrase of the act, that the Cardinals, in accord with canon 17, either demonstrated to themselves that he sufficiently resigned the papacy, or held private council with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, to know his mind and meaning, at which time he privately signified that he had resigned the papacy in resigning the ministry of the Papacy.

Ad obj. 12.: While it is true that a Catholic should be disposed to presume such, such presumption does not make an invalid resignation valid. Nay, in accord with Canon 332 §2, one must note that the final cause of an invalid resignation is that it not be manifested according to the norm of law (rite manifestastur). Which norm requires a public act, that is, an act witnessed by at least 2 witnesses and made verbally. Such an act has never been published. So even if it were made, its a secret act, and it would not make an invalid resignation, valid.

13. Because Pope Benedict said, “I declare that I renounce the ministry which I had received from the hands of the Cardinals, … so that the See of St. Peter be vacant on …”, he clearly indicated that his renunciation was to effect a loss of office (munus), therefore his resignation was in accord with Canon 332 §2, despite not explicitly using the word munus, as that Canon requires for validity. Therefore, the resignation was valid.

Ad obj. 13.: This objection was refuted in the arguments of the First Part, but its complexity deserves a fuller answer for those minds which cannot understand how it is invalid. First, as demonstrated in the First Part of this Disputed Question, a resignation is valid if it includes a resignation of munus; it is not valid if it does not. And according to Canon 17, if there is any doubt as to whether munus is included in canon 332 §2 as a sine non qua condition or according to its signification in a broader sense, one must have recourse to other parts of the Law, the canonical tradition, and to the mind of the Legislator (John Paul II) of the Code. As has been shown elsewhere, there is no basis for an argument from canon 17 that ministerium can mean munus. However, since ministerium is followed by 2 subordinate clauses, the argument that it is invalid, must respond to that condition. For in Latin, some subordinate clauses can alter the signification of the main clause. And it is true that there is a poetical form, in which part of a thing can substitute for the whole, as when at Mass in the Latin Rite we say, “Come under my roof” to mean “come into my soul”. However, as regards the Latin of the text of the renunciation, to say, “which I received from the hands of the Cardinals” imposes no necessity of reference to the Petrine Ministry per se, because Ratzinger also at that time received the Episcopal and Pastoral Ministry for the Diocese of Rome. The second clause, “so that the See of St Peter be vacant”, has been shown in Part I to necessitate no necessity. For those who do not understand Latin grammar, this needs to be explained. Because, in a subordinate clause such as “so that … be vacant”, the clause is a clause of purpose of the kind which begins with the particle “ut”, and thus is a pure clause of purpose which indicates only a goal. If the subordinate clause of purpose had begun with “in the kind of way which” (quomodo) or “in such a way as to” (in tali modo quod) it would have been a purpose clause of characteristic which has the power to alter the manner of signification in the main clause, and allow the use of metynomic signification, that is, when a part refers to the whole. Since Pope Benedict did not say anything of that kind, this way of reading the subordinate clause is not possible. Hence it remains invalid.  However, even if a metonymic signification was had, it remains invalid per canon 332 §2, since it would not be duly manifested. Because just as if one were to pronounce marriage vows by saying, “I take you to be my Viennese strudel” instead of saying “I take you to be my wife”, an interpretation would be necessary to be resorted to, to make the phrase signify taking a wife, so in an act of resignation a metonymic manner of signification renders the act invalid because it publicly does not duly manifest the intention.

14. In his act of resignation Pope Benedict XVI declared two things. The First regarding his resignation, the second regarding the convocation of a Conclave “that a Conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff be convoked by those whose duty it is”. He would not have said this, if his intention was not to resign the office of the Papacy. Therefore, he did resign the office of the papacy.

Ad obj. 14.: This argument is a conflation of two arguments, one of which has previously been refuted, viz. that one which regards his intention, which was refuted in Ad obj. 2. Here I will respond to the other, that which regards the papal command to convene a Conclave.   That the Pope declared that a conclave be convened to elect a new Roman Pontiff forms the second independent clause of his verb, “I declare”. Thus, it is logically independent and bears no necessity in the alteration of the signification of the first clause, which regards the resignation.  Thus, if the resignation not be duly manifested in accord with Canon 332 §2, that the Pope declares a Conclave be called is a papal declaration which is totally vitiated by the substantial error in his first declaration. Thus canon 188 invalidates the execution of this command. This is especially true, because in the declaration of convocation he does not require the convocation to take place before or after he ceases to be pope, or on a specific date or even during his life time. To see this more clearly, recall the example from the arguments against the validity, wherein a hypothetical pope declares, “I renounce bananas so that on Feb. 28, at 8 PM, Roman Time, the see be vacant” and simply add, “and that a Conclave be convened to elect a new Roman Pontiff”.  As can be seen in this hypothetical, the second declaration does not make the first valid, it just continues the substantial error: a substantial error which also makes the Conclave of 2013 and all the acts of Bergoglio as pope invalid.

15. Canon 332 §2 does require the resignation of office. But ministerium also means office. Therefore, when Pope Benedict renounced the ministerium, he renounced the munus.

Ad obj. 15.: Canon 332 §2 reads as follows:  If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounce his munus, there is required for its validity alone that it be freely made and manifested rite, and not that it be accepted by anyone whomsoever.  As can be seen from this Canon — which is the only one dealing with papal resignations — the fundamental condition is that the Pope resign his “munus”.  Now while some modern translations translate that as office (English), others as charge (Spanish), others as function (Italian), its clear from the Code of Canon Law that its primary canonical meaning is office. This can be seen from its use in the headings of the New Code for chapters on ecclesiastical offices. This is confirmed by a direct citation of canon 145 §1, where every ecclesiastical office is called a “munus”, not a “ministerium”.  An examination of the Code also reveals that a ministerium is never called an “office”.  Now since the Code of Canon Law requires in Canon 17, that the Code itself be read in accord with the tradition of canonical texts, the sources of canon law and the mind of its legislator (Pope John Paul II), these facts should be sufficient evidence to exclude the possibility that “ministerium” can be read as munus. This is confirmed by the comparison of Canon 332 §2 with the corresponding canon in the Code of Canon Law promulgated under Pope Benedict XV, where it speaks of a Pope renouncing, but does not say what he renounces. Its evident and significant that Pope John Paul II in the 1983 code added the word “munus” to specify what must be renounced to effect a papal resignation. Its also evident that in that Code of Canon Law “ministerium” refers to the exercise of an office. Furthermore, if one examines all previous papal resignations for which there is textual evidence of the formula of resignation, the words which signify office are always found: onus, munus. Ministerium is not found. Proper names for the office are found, such as episcopatus or papatus. Or the dignity resulting from the office is named with the words honor or dignitas. Thus, in accord with Canon 17, all the sources of authoritative interpretation conclude upon 1 result: that a Pope only resigns when he resigns the munus, the office, not the execution of the office, ministerium. Therefore, even if Pope Benedict intended, and in private afterwards asserted or asserts or will assert, that he intended to use “ministerium” for munus, his act of renunciation is invalid on account of that substantial error, in virtue of canon 188, and it cannot be made valid by any subsequent act. It would have to be redone with the word, “munus”. So the argument is invalid by a sophistry, of reading “munus” in its major according to its Latin signification, but reading “ministerium” in the minor according to its vernacular usage. Thus, its conclusion is reached through an undistributed middle term, and thus is invalid also.

16. There is no petrine ministerium without a petrine office, for the two are inseparable according to right and being [secundum ius et esse].  Therefore, although Canon 332 §2 does require that a Pope renounce his munus to validly resign, nevertheless, a renunciation of ministerium is sufficient to effect this, because though “munus” names the papal office in relation to God’s gift of grace and duty, “ministerium” names the same office according to its relation to the Church. Therefore, to renounce the petrine ministerium, is to renounce the petrine munus.

Ad. obj. 16.:  It must be said, that this argument must be responded to by interemption, for it is false in both its major and minor propositions.  In its minor, it is false in being founded upon an error of interpreting the obligations of Canon 332 §2 according to the general custom of the science of theology, and not according to the norm of law. In its major, or premise, it is furthermore false in asserting that ministerium is not separable from office according to right and being [secundum ius et esse].  — In regard to the first, one must respond thus:  For in the science of theology, words can have differing significations in respect of the same or dissimilar things. But all this is praeter rem in regard to a discussion of the canonical signification of an act of resignation of ecclesiastical office, even more so, in regard to an office established by the Incarnate Word of God. For in such a matter, the argument must turn upon the office according to its being in the Divine Will and Intention, not upon the office as it is understood according to the personal theology of the man who is Roman pontiff. This is also true in regard to the Roman Church, whose Bridegroom is not the Roman Pontiff, but Christ Jesus Himself, now reigning in Glory. For that reason, not only is She bound to give the consent of Her will to the Redeemer, but also the assent of Her mind. Therefore, one would propose a manner of observing canon law which would be tantamount to adultery, if one held that it was licit for the Roman Church to regard the signification of a canonical act after the manner of the world, the flesh, or even private interpretation. Thus, not only is Christ by His promise to Saint Peter bound by canon 332 §2, promulgated by His Vicar, Pope John Paul II, to not withdraw the grace and office [munus] unless it be explicitly renounced, so also the Roman Church, which is His most faithful virgin Bride and virgin Spouse. Therefore, the Church must regard the obligations of canon 332 §2 as requiring a renunciation of munus, inasmuch as canon 17 requires that term to be understood in canon 145 §1. Nowhere in the Code of Canon law is a ministerium regarded as the office itself. So even if it was the intention of the author of Non Solum Propter, inasmuch as he was man, to signify the Papal Office in its relation to the service it renders, it does not by that fact alone become an act which the Church can accept as rite manifestatum, for an interpretation would have to be resorted to, and a reading of the text, outside the rules of signification of the Code of Canon law would have to be employed. And as such, it would not be canonically valid, even if one could sustain that it was theologically sufficient. Nevertheless, even if one were to grant that the words ministerium …. commissum spoke of the munus petrinum in its relation to the Church, since nothing is renounced but what is explicitly renounced, the act would effect nothing more canonically speaking than a renunciation of the office inasmuch as it is in such a relation, not of the office itself. And thus it would not be efficacious to renounce nor sufficient to signify the renunciation of the office in its relation to God and His gift of grace. But since this very relation refers to it according to its principle of being [secundum essendi principium] – for it is a gift immediately from Christ and established by an act of His will – such a renunciation does not effect what is essential to it. The act remains, therefore, vitiated by substantial error in its manner of signification, and thus is invalid ipso iure, by canon 188. — Finally, in regard to the premise of the argument, namely, that ministerium is not separable from office secundum ius et esse, it must be said that this is falsified by liturgical and canonical law. For since the suppression of minor orders, the state of the acolyte and lector are termed “ministries” [Canon 230 §1], yet such ministries confer no right to exercise such service at any time, but only the suitability to do so at the request of the celebrant of a liturgical act. Therefore, ministeria are separable in right and being from munus. — Thus, in conclusion, it appears obvious that the entire argument is false, since a conclusion which is drawn from a false premise and a false minor is entirely falsified.

17. The peaceful and universal acceptance of a Pope is caused by and is the effect of a valid papal election. Therefore, since 6 years have passed, even if the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI were invalid, his de facto silence at the usurpation of the Papal Office by Bergoglio is tantamount to a resignation. Therefore, whether the resignation was invalid or not, it now must be regarded as valid.

Ad obj. 17.:  Though, in common law, possession is nine tenths of right, and thus, usurpation can lead to acquisition of right; and though in Roman Law usucapione can obtain legal right to property after a long time, such a principle is not valid for two reasons. First, it is not valid theologically in regard to an ecclesiastical office which was established by Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, by an immediate personal act. Of which kind is the office of Pope. The theological reason is this: that no one can snatch anything out of the Hand of the Living God (John 10:28). And thus, no usurpation of the papal office can constrain the Godhead, Who is Infinite Justice and Omnipotence Himself, to transfer the grace of the Papal munus to another.  To hold otherwise, would be a theological impossibility and absurdity. — Second, it is not valid canonically, on account of Canon 359, which specifies that the College of Cardinals has authority to elect a Roman Pontiff only during a sede vacante.  Therefore, if the resignation of Pope Benedict XVi was invalid, there was no sede vacante, and therefore the College had no authority to elect a successor.  — As for tacit acquiescence: it is clear from Church History, that against the claims of an Anti-Pope no rightful claimant of the Apostolic See was considered to have relented merely for not prosecuting his right. Moreover, the argument of tacit acquiescence, however, has no application in the case under dispute, because that one acts on substantial error does not constitute tacit acquiescence, since tacit acquiescence requires the capacity of consent, a thing which is impossible through invincible ignorance in the case of substantial error. — Finally, as regards the universal and peaceful acceptance of a papal election: while this principle is certainly a valid reflex principle for troubled consciences in the case of a valid election, there is no possibility of a valid election when the College had no right to act, for it is contrary not only to Canon Law but to Divine Law to elect another Roman Pontiff while the Pope still lives and has not validly resigned. It is also not valid, as regards its implicit minor: namely, that there has been a peaceful and universal acceptance of the Papal resignation. There has not, as the preface to this disputed question demonstrates. Hence, the application of this reflex principle to the present case is at best praeter rem, and worse a subterfuge.

18. Benedict’s renunciation of ministerium validly effects a resignation of office, because, on account of Canon 10, which expressly says only those conditions of invalidity cause an act to be invalid, since canon 332 §2 speaks of invalidity only regard to liberty from coercion and due manifestation, not the naming of the office, since it was Benedict’s intention to name the papal office, as is evident from his accepting the title of Pope Emeritus, the naming of the ministerium instead of munus does not make the act of renunciation invalid. Furthermore, Benedict as pope is the supreme legislator, therefore he officially interprets the law (cf. Canon 16 §1), therefore he is able to resign the Petrine munus by resigning the Petrine miniserium.

Ad obj. 18.: While it is true that canon 332 §2 speaks of invalidity only in regard to the conditions of the act, nevertheless canon 188 speaks expressly of invalidity of resignations which are vitiated by a substantial error. Now, there is no more substantial of an error in resigning an ecclesiastical office, than to resign an accident of it or its second act of being (ministerium) and believe that in doing so one sufficiency signifies the office (munus). Furthermore, Canon 18 requires that the terms of canon 332 §2 be understood strictly, since the latter canon restricts the one who is renouncing. Therefore, the renunciation must explicitly regard the munus of the papal office, which in that canon and in canon 749 §1, like all episcopal offices (cf. Paul VI, Christus Dominus) in the entire Code, is referred to exclusively as a munus, because it is not merely an ecclesiastical office (officium) or service (ministerium) established by custom or the Church, but is a gift of grace and office (munus) established by the Living God by an immediate Personal Act (cf. Matthew 16:18 ff).  That each such office (munus) can exercise one or more ministeria is not only NOT an argument for the validity of Benedict’s resignation, but nay rather an argument against the validity, on account of canon 188, canon 17 and canon 41 (in the Latin), the latter of which expressly associates ministerium with the mere execution of an ecclesiastical office; and this, because the execution of an office or its services can be renounced by the infirm, who still wishes to retain the dignity of the office, as the history of the Church demonstrates. Thus, in virtue of canon 17, which explicitly requires that the texts of each Canon be understood according to the proper meaning of the words they contain as the context of the Code of Canon Law uses them, the argument drawn from canon 10, here, is invalid because it is praeter rem, that is, applicable only to the conditions of invalidity in canon 332 §2, not canon 188. — If you say, yes, Canon 10 applies only to the terms of validity expressed in Canon 332 §2 and thus allows a broad interpretation of the conditional clause which speaks of a resignation of the petrine munus: then it must be responded, that such a reading of canon 10 would nullify the requirements of canon 17, that terms must be understood properly, or at least fails from insufficiency, since the broad meaning of munus in the Code of Canon Law is officium not ministerium; which sense of officium refers to office, not execution of a ministry. — Regarding Canon 16 §1, it must be said, that yes, Pope Benedict as Pope is the supreme legislator and interpreter of canon law. But he is only legislator, when he legislates; whereas Canon 332 §2 was legislated by Pope John Paul II. Furthermore, though any Pope can officially interpret Canon Law, he must do so by a papal act, not by a substantial error. Thus, canon 16 does not apply in such a case. Nay, rather, Canon 38 expressly rules in this case, when it says: An administrative act, even if it be enacted by a rescript given Motu Proprio, lacks effect to the extent that it harms the rights of another or is contrary to the law or proven custom, unless the competent authority expressly has added a derogating clause. — Finally, as regards the Pope’s manifest intention to resign the papal munus, I have responded to this above in the reply to objections 2, 3 and 4.

19. As Dr. Taylor Marshall sustains on his video, “The Resignation of Pope Benedict: an Analysis”, “ministerium” and “munus” name the same thing: the papal office, therefore to renounce the one is to renounce the other. Therefore, the resignation is valid.

Ad obj. 19.: To a gratuitous assertion, no reply need be made, because it is not an argument. However, against this assertion, one must respond, since it attacks the very nature of reality itself.  For words have meaning, otherwise they would not be signs of communication. And different words can have different meaning, or there would be no reason to use them. Thus human language of necessity sustains the assertion that ministerium and munus can have different significations.  Any dictionary of Latin also sustains this, as anyone can demonstrate who has one. But that ministerium and munus in Canon Law mean the same thing, is entirely false, as has been demonstrated above by referring, in accord with the requirements of canon 17, to the Code itself which in canon 41 associates “ministerium” with the mere exercise of office, and canon 145 §1 which defines an ecclesiastical office as a “munus,” not a ministerium.  Thus, the Code of Canon Law itself uses the terms in different senses, and do not equate their significations as referring to an ecclesiastical office, in the sense that “bishopric” or “papacy” refer to an office. — This is a sufficient refutation according to the norm of Canon Law. But since the assertion conceals a grave error of the kind of Nominalism promoted at Tübingen, it merits to be refuted according to the science of philosophy. For just as there are 10 categories of being according to the Philosopher in his Praedicamenta, so words can be said in reference to one or more category of being. Now in canon 145 §1, the Supreme Legislator predicates munus of every ecclesiastical office. But no where in the Code does he predicate ministerium of any ecclesiastical office, only of roles or services rendered by one who holds an office or in his stead.  Therefore it is clear from canon 17 that this represents in the mind of the Legislator that munus signifies the being of something real, namely an office, but ministerium signifies the action or service rendered by one who holds such an office. Therefore, munus is said to be a substance itself, and ministerium is said of a substance in act. But this is the distinction of being and act, of substance and accident, according to the Praedicamenta.  Therefore, there is a real distinction between munus and ministerium, in the senses used in Canon 332 §2, 145 §1 and canon 41, just as there is a real distinction between any agent and the actions of the agent, though the latter inheres in the former. If this be denied, then the walking of Peter, which in Peter is Peter, when imitated perfectly by Paul would be just as much Peter in Paul as Peter in Peter, which is absurd.  Therefore, the walking of Peter in Peter is not a substance but an accident, like the color of Peter’s skin or the accent of his voice, which can be duplicated in other things, without making them Peter.  Likewise, the Petrine ministry, which is the action or service which the one who holds the Petrine Office should and can render, can be perfectly imitated in another, without making that other the Pope. This is the entire basis for the Roman Curia’s collaboration with every true Pope, when He delegates the execution of some part of his Petrine Munus to Cardinals and Bishops and priests at the Vatican or elsewhere. Therefore, to name the Petrine munus it does not suffice to name the Petrine Ministry (even if it be conceded that Benedict did this, which I have shown is not the case in the arguments of the first part), because just as when Peter renounces his walking, he remains Peter, so when the Pope renounces his ministry, he remains the pope. The semiotic rationale or ratio significandi for this is, that just as substance and accident are separable, so their unity is not necessary; therefore, the signification of the one which is the accident in the other signs no necessary or determinative reference to the one which is the substance. Therefore, in accord with canon 332 §2, which requires a manifestation of liberty and intention which is accord with the norm of law, such a manner of signification is invalid, because it requires an interpretation which the Law does not sustain as possible in accord with canon 17.



7 comments on “The Validity of Benedict’s Resignation, Part II: Ad Contrarium

  1. […] For the arguments, to the Contrary, and their refutations, see part II. […]

  2. On the Pope who first resigned his office that Pope Benedict XVI wanted to imitate, I’m wondering about his resignation, when he wanted to go back to his monastery and then the new Pope threw him into Prison. So, to make it clearer, 1. back then, was Canon Law not followed either, like in the time of Pope Benedict XVI?

  3. A lot of time and effort has been devoted to the argument that he is still Pope because “substantial error” but at the end of the day if Benedict XVI intended to redefine the papacy he was himself a material heretic and if Benedict tried to recreate the Papacy by his duplicitous resignation than he became a formal heretic by that act, thus losing the Papacy, and so now we have the last Pope as being Pope Saint John Paul II which is just fantastic because that makes us all sedevacantists..

  4. The Editor says:

    There was no code of canon law then. Regional councils handed down canons against simony. King Henry III called a council at Pavia which did this just prior to the Synod of Sutri being called.

  5. The Editor says:

    Resigning in an erroneous manner is not an act of heresy, even if you intended to put into practice an error regarding the papacy which has not yet been condemned. John Paul II in the new Code made actionable only those forms of heresy which contradicted a defined dogma of the Faith. As you point out in your long quotation, which I have cut out of your comment, for sake of space, in the past the prudence of our pastors condemned any denial of revealed truth, even if it had not yet been defined. So no, Benedict was not a heretic by his faulty resignation, because the act does not expressly contradict a defined truth of the faith.

  6. Albinus Falco says:

    I don’t think Objection n.10 (or similar ones) has been satisfactorily responded to. Here is St. Alphonsus: “It is of no importance that in past centuries some Pontiff was illegitimately elected or took possession of the Pontificate by fraud; it is enough that he was accepted afterwards by the whole Church as Pope, since by such acceptance he would have become the true Pontiff.” Note that St. Alphonsus holds that universal acceptance is not merely a *sign* that the man is Pope but that it is *efficacious* in making a man Pope (if necessary). In other words, even if Pope Benedict’s resignation were invalid (which thus would make Francis’ election invalid) the acceptance of Francis as Pope validates the election. By consequence (in the order of knowledge), Benedict thus ceased to be Pope *at least* from the moment Francis was accepted as Pope.

  7. The Editor says:

    The argument from Saint Alphonsus may have ben a valid argument in the 18th century, but canon 332 §2 contradicts that, so its not valid today. Therefore your objection was not considerd as its praeter rem.

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