Bishop Schneider gets his Papal History wrong

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Henry III (1017-1056). Called the Black. Holy Roman Emperor. 3 Popes Deposed at the Synod of Sutri (1046). Engraving by A. Closs. Colored. (Photo by: PHAS/UIG via Getty Images)

In his recent article at Rorate Caeli, Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider writes a long article to quell the raging doubts Catholics now have regarding Bergoglio’s claim to the papacy.

But in that Article the learned Bishop gets his history lesson wrong, when he writes:

Popes were deposed several times by secular powers or by criminal clans. This occurred especially during the so-called dark ages (10th and 11th centuries), when the German Emperors deposed several unworthy popes, not because of their heresy, but because of their scandalous immoral life and their abuse of power. However, they were never deposed according to a canonical procedure, since that is impossible because of the Divine structure of the Church. The pope gets his authority directly from God and not from the Church; therefore, the Church cannot depose him, for any reason whatsoever.

(Emphasis added)

As I recited in my article, Yes a Pope can be canonically deposed, the history of the Papacy contradicts the Bishop’s assertion, for the Church does recognize as legitimate a Synod which canonically deposed 3 claimants to the papacy, one of which had to be the legitimate pope.

I quote my own article:

The events are summarized by John Cardinal Newman, and summarized in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes the events:

The proceedings of the Synod of Sutri, 20 December, are well summarized by Cardinal Newman in his “Essays Critical and Historical” (II, 262 sqq.). Of the three papal claimants, Benedict refused to appear; he was again summoned and afterwards pronounced deposed at Rome. Sylvester was “stripped of his sacerdotal rank and shut up in a monastery”. Gregory showed himself to be, if not an idiota, at least a man miræ simplicitatis, by explaining in straightforward speech his compact with Benedict, and he made no other defence than his good intentions, and deposed himself (Watterich, Vitæ Rom. Pont., I, 76); an act by some interpreted as a voluntary resignation, by others (Hefele), in keeping with the contemporary annals, as a deposition by the synod. The Synod of Sutri adjourned to meet again in Rome 23 and 24 December. Benedict, failing to appear, was condemned and deposed in contumaciam, and the papal chair was declared vacant. As King Henry was not yet crowned emperor, he had no canonical right to take part in the new election; but the Romans had no candidate to propose and begged the monarch to suggest a worthy subject.

Now, its not heresy to say that something happened, even if nutty Sedevacantists fell off their toilets when I wrote my article in September, accusing me of heresy. If the Church did depose a Pope canonically, its clearly not heresy to say that they did, or that the Church holds in practice that the Church can. Why since 2 of the deposed popes are depicted on the frieze of the Lateran (constructed in the 19th century), you could even argue the Vatican endorses both their papacies and their deposition, since Pope Clement II is also depicted there, who replaced all three.

Whether the Divine Constitution of the Church opposes such a notion or not, I think, is a concept of the constitution of the Church which excludes her history. Because if the Divine Constitution of the Church does make that impossible, then it’s also illicit, and thus immoral. But the Church has recognized the validity of the Synod of Sutri for 10 centuries, and the validity of the election of Pope Clement II for 10 centuries. So if anyone can quote a theologian or canonist after Sutri who said otherwise, quote him. But can we rely on his authority and not that of the Church by Her tacit acceptance? If we rely on such an opinion, are we not constrained to say the Church was in error for 10 centuries? And if we say that, are we not heretics?

As I said before, if Benedict IX did sell the papacy to Gregory VI, then the sale effected nothing, since you cannot validly sell an ecclesiastical office. That means that Benedict IX was the true Pope, because even if he did resign after the sale thinking he did sell the office, he was in substantial error and therefore his resignation was invalid. I suppose one could argue the Synod was in substantial error thinking it could depose Benedict or anyone for that matter, and that therefore Clement II’s election was invalid on account of substantial error, but the Church has never said that. The Frieze above the interior columns of the Lateran sill show Clement II as the one true valid Pope during the years of his reign.

I think its more probable, that whereas the Pope cannot be deposed as pope or for being pope, the man who is pope, who sins against the office by Simony or Heresy, can be deposed. But I admit that is my private fallible opinion. The Church’s Magisterium has not addressed such a specific case, to my knowledge, to handle the Synod of Sutri. The probability which causes me to hold such an opinion is that such an opinion avoids contradicting defined dogma and canons, by admitting an exceptional case in which the Law Maker Himself would not want otherwise unbending laws to prevail.

 

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Siscoe’s Triple shell game

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Recently at One Peter Five, a website which is subtitled, “Rebuilding Catholic Culture. Restoring Catholic Tradition”, Robert Siscoe has published an article to quell the raging doubts Catholics have about the legitimacy of Bergoglio’s claim to the papacy: the first part of which is entitled: “Dogmatic Fact, the One Doctrine which proves Francis is Pope“, and the second part of which is entitled, “For Each Objection, an answer why Francis is Pope“.

There is nothing much to be said for his article other than it’s a lawyer-esque attempt to convince his audience using 3 different shell games.  As you may know, a shell game is where you put a ball under one shell and then quickly shuffle the shells on a table top so that the onlooker loses track of which of the shells contains the ball, and then you ask the onlooker to guess under which shell the ball is.  In American popular discourse, a shell game, therefore, is a trick whereby you pretend that something is one thing at one time, when it really is not.

Here are Siscoe’s 3 Shell games:

The Church

In Siscoe’s mouth the verbal expression “The Church” has two distinct meanings: the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, AND the mass of those who uncritically accept that the resignation of Benedict XVI is valid because they never examined its conformity to Canon 332 §2.

The Shell Game that Siscoe plays with these 2 senses can be reduced to a simple Sophistic argument (i.e. invalid syllogism), thus:

Major: The Chuch (founded by Jesus Christ) cannot be deceived about who is the Pope.

Minor: The Church (of all those who have not examined the resignation of Benedict) accept Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

Conclusion: Therefore, The Church (founded by Jesus Christ) accepts Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

This kind of argumentation is a false illation, because the term “The Church” has not the same signification in both the major and minor premises of the syllogism.  Aristotle calls this the Sophism of the undistributed middle term, or the equivocation.

Fallible Private Opinion

In Siscoe’s mouth, the phrase “Fallible Private Opinion” has two senses:  in one sense its a judgement about something wherein the judgement may or may not be correct, because its not based on objective reality but on an interpretation of reality.  In the other sense, its any fact of objective reality which he wants to ignore for the sake of his argument.

The Shell Game that Siscoe plays with these 2 senses can be reduced to a simple Sophistic argument (i.e. invalid syllogism), thus:

Major: No merely infallible private opinion about dogmatic facts can assert itself as more authoritative than the judgement of the majority of men and women in the Church, since the Church’s sensus fidelium and Her indefectibility protects Her from error.

Minor: That Benedict’s act of renunciation regards the ministerium and not the munus, is a fallible private opinion.

Conclusion: Therefore, no one has the right to sustain that Benedict’s resignation is invalid against the vast majority of the members of the Church.

The error of this illation is found chiefly in the Minor. Because, that Benedict said ministerio not muneri in his act of renunciation is NOT a private opinion, but a fact of history.

Siscoe may not know it, but the Science of Logic teaches that the verity of premises flows down to their conclusions in valid illations.  Thus:

Major: That Benedict renounced his ministerium, is a fact of history.

Minor: That canon 332 §2 requires the renunciation of munus, is not a fallible private opinion, but a fact of law, being the very text of the Law.

Conclusion: That Benedict’s act of resignation is not in conformity with canon 332 is a fact of history.

Siscoe might want to ignore canon 38, which says that any Motu Proprio which runs counter to the terms of the law, EVEN IN THE CASE IN WHICH the one positing the act is IGNORANT of the law, is invalid UNLESS there is an express derogation from the law by the competent authority (in this case by the Pope), but Canon 38 is there and Catholics cannot ignore to apply it to this case.  Thus the conclusion infallibly follows, since the act of resignation contained no derogation from canon 38 or 332, that:

Benedict did not validly resign.

Peaceful and Universal Acceptance

These words mean two things in the mouth of Siscoe: in one sense they mean universal and peaceful and CANONICAL acceptance by the Church (see last quotation in part II). In the other sense they mean peaceful and universal acceptance CANONICAL OR NOT by the Church (see the citation of Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori).

So Siscoe’s usage of both terms can be reduced to this syllogism:

Major: The acceptance (Canonical) by the Church of of a man as Pope requires that all accept him as validly elected.

Minor: Bergoglio has been accepted (even if it be unCanonically).

Conclusion: Bergoglio must be accepted by all the Church as validly elected.

Siscoe’s illation is false because he is using 2 different senses of accepted. If he used the ancient reflex principle in its proper context, as he cites it in the final citation of that article, and did so AT THE BEGINNING of his article it would be obvious that he is beating against the air, because since the controversy regards whether Benedict canonically resigned, the key quality to be examined in the resignation is its conformity to canon law.

In Conclusion

Siscoe misunderstands the notion of infallibility.  Infallibility as a quality is the natural property of God alone as Infinite Truth. Infallibility as a charism of grace is vouchsafed to only a validly elected successor of Saint Peter. But infallibility is a quality of every true proposition, on account of truth being per se infallible, even if the thing asserted be asserted by a non infallible created person without any gift of grace.

Siscoe also seems to not know the distinction between an opinion and a fact. One can have an opinion about whether there is life on Mars, because we yet do not know if there is or is not. But one cannot have an opinion of whether there is life on Earth, since that is a fact.  An opinion can be had when both sides, pro and con, are possibles. But when there can be no truth on one side of the judgement, an opinion is impossible.

NOTE WELL: In this controversy, there is a fallible private opinion which is being asserted by some as superior to truth, reality and law, and it is this: that the renunciation of ministerium effects a renunciation of munus. Those who hold this opinion have yet to prove it, and the only valid proof must be in accord with the norm of Canon 17.

Vatican recognizes Benedict as the Pope

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The image comes from Ann Barnhardt’s website, where she says she has confirmed its authenticity.  Father Paolo Borgia, is, according to Wikipedia, an assessor in the Vatican Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has the duty to respond to official correspondence received from the pope.

These affirmations coupled with Bergoglio’s public invitation to the crowds gathered at the 2019 Youth Day in Panama, “Wave your hands at Pope Benedict”, give all Catholics pause to think:

Because, suppose it be true that Bergoglio is Pope Francis, that is, is the true Pope. Therefore, it follows that when he invites us to call Benedict, Pope, he affirms publicly that Benedict is pope. But the Catholic Faith says there can only be one pope at a time. This is defined dogma, as per Vatican I.  Therefore, since the first one to hold the title of pope is the true pope, since no one can claim the title until the title be renounced, then it follows that Bergoglio in inviting all to call Ratzinger the pope, is in fact saying that he is not the Pope and has no valid claim on the papacy.

Thus all Catholics now, must call Benedict the Pope and stop calling Bergoglio pope.

But if you reject this argument, saying, that when Benedict resigned, we should ignore that he renounced the ministerium, though Canon 332 §2 requires the renunciation of munus, and that when Francis speaks we should ignore that he called Benedict, “el papa”, then, should you NOT ask YOURSELF if you have just put yourself above the Pope, whomsoever he be, and made YOURSELF THE INFALLIBLE INTERPRETER OF THE POPE.

Hence, those who hold that Bergoglio is the Pope, now, must have 3 popes: Bergoglio, Ratzinger and themselves.

Those who hold that Benedict made a small mistake in his act of renunciation, however, are the Catholics, with only one Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, just as the Church teaches there should be only 1 pope.

So ask yourself, which is more Catholic?

Boniface VIII’s Magisterial Teaching on Papal Renunciations

Translation and Commentary by Br. Alexis Bugnolo¹

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The election of Pope Boniface VIII

Pope Boniface VIII, Quoniam (Sexti Decretalium Liber. I, Tit. VII, chapter 1):

Quoniam aliqui curiosi disceptatores de his, quae non multum expediunt, et plura sapere, quam oporteat, contra doctrinam Apostoli, temere appetentes, in dubitationem sollicitam, an Romanus Pontifex (maxime cum se insufficientem agnoscit ad regendam universale Ecclesiam, et summi Pontificatus onera supportanda) renunciare valeat Papatui, eiusque oneri, et honori, deducere minus provide videbantur:  Celestinus Papa quintus praedecessor noster, dum eiusdem ecclesiae regimini praesidebat, volens super hoc haestitationis cuiuslibet materiam amputare, deliberatione habita cum suis fratribus Ecclesiae Romanae Cardinalibus (de quorum numero tunc eramus) de nostro, et ipsorum omnium concordi consilio et assensu, auctoritate Apostolica statuit, et decrevit:  Romanum Pontificem posse libere resignare.

Nos igitur ne statutum huiusmodi per ipsis cursum oblivioni dari aut dubitationem eandem in recidivam disceptionem ulterius deduci contingat:  ipsum inter constitutiones alias, ad perpetuam rei memoriam, de fratrum nostrorum consilio duximus redigendum.

My Translation:

Since some debaters curious about those things, which are not very expedient, and desiring rashly to know more than is opportune, against the teaching of the Apostle (1 Tim. 6:4), have seemed to draw forth less cautiously a solicitous doubt, whether the Roman Pontiff (most of all when he acknowledges himself (to be) insufficient to rule the universal Church, and to support the burdens (onera) of the Supreme Pontificate) be able [valeat] to renounce the Papacy [Papatui], and its charge [oneri], and honor [honori]:  Pope Celestine V, Our predecessor, when he presided over the government of the same Church, willing to cut off the matter of any hesitation over this, having held a deliberation with His brothers, the Cardinals of the Roman Church (of whose number We were at that time), established and decreed by (his) Apostolic Authority, from the concordant counsel and assent of Ourselves, and of the same: that the Roman Pontiff can freely resign.

We, therefore, lest a statute of this kind, enacted through the same, be given up to oblivion or the same doubt be drawn forth furthermore in a repeated debate: judge that the same is to be registered among the other constitutions, ad perpetuam rei memoriam, (drawn) from the council of our brother (Cardinals).

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FOOTNOTES

  1. Many thanks to Dr. Cyrille Dounot, Professor of Law in the Faculté de Droit et de Science Politique, at the Université d’Auvergne, France, for making the Latin text of Boniface’s decree, Quoniam (VI, 1, 7, 1), available to me, from the Corpus Iuris Canonici, Vol II, Liber Sextus, Clementinae and Extravagantes, cum glossis, Lyons, France, 1584, cols. 197-199.

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MY COMMENTARY

Benedetto Caetani, the future Pope Boniface VIII, was born around 1235 A. D., of an ancient Roman family. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Bologna and served in the papal government during his long career. Pope Martin IV made him Cardinal Deacon of Saint Nicholas in Carcere, in 1281 A. D., and Pope Nicholas IV, Cardinal Priest of St. Martin in Montibus ten years later. He succeeded Pope Celestine V in 1294, after the former renounced the papacy.

Pope Boniface studied canon law in an age in which its study was confined to gathering the canons of the ancient Church and those decreed in historic synods and commenting on them to deduce the fundamental principles of law by which the Church would be rightly governed. His decree, Quoniam, must be seen in this light, as we can see from the text.

There are two motives for Pope Boniface in writing Quoniam. The historical and the ecclesiological. Historically, inasmuch as he was elected following the resignation of Pope Celestine V, and on account of his untimely demise shortly after being sequestered by Boniface to the Castle of Fumone, Italy, Boniface had good reason to enshrine in Church Law the affirmation that a pope can freely resign. Second, ecclesiologically, Boniface wanted to put to rest doubts that swirled around the nature of the papal office, whether it was a vocation which could only be accepted, and never rejected, or whether it was an office, in the sense of a duty or charge, which could be lain down just as much as taken up.

In its form, Quoniam, is a memorial rescript, that is, its a written document which records what was said and decided in consistory by his predecessor, Pope Celestine V, with the Cardinals. Pope Boniface’s authority to issue the rescript, therefore, is twofold: he was both an eye witness participant in the discussions and as Roman Pontiff he had the authority to determinatively decide upon questions of canon law.

While Boniface’s central purpose was merely to affirm a point of papal power, the matter of his rescript touches upon the nature of the papal office as it was conceived in the minds of Pope Celestine V and his cardinals:  as an office, as a duty, as a dignity.  The office is that of the papacy (papatus), a Late Medieval term derived from the popular address of the Roman Pontiff, pope, in Greek (papas).  The duty is a charge or burden (onus), not only a sober term for the magnitude and importance of the affairs it must conduct, but also a term which implies that this duty is bestowed from on high, a reference to Our Lord’s creation of the office in Matthew 16:18. Finally, the papal office is a dignity (honor), which distinguishes and elevates the one who accepts his canonical election above all others in the Church.

From Boniface’s rescript, by which he establishes Quoniam among the perpetual constitutions of the Church, we can see a direct and faithful reflection in the present Code of Canon Law, in Canon 332 §2, which terms the papal office a munus, affirms that a renunciation of munus is validly effected when the Pope acts freely, and requires a public act. In its final clause, Canon 332 §2 reaffirms that the power of renunciation lies solely in the papal office by denying that its validity arises from the act of renunciation being accepted by anyone at all.

Its clear, then, from the magisterial teaching of Pope Boniface VIII, that the papal office is not a ministry, but rather a unique dignity, office and duty, which in being renounced, must be renounced in its own nature according to what it is. That even those who doubted that a pope had such power, in Boniface’s day, affirmed these things are contained in the context of the doubt they raised, namely, whether a pope could renounce the papacy, its charge, and its honor.

Contrariwise, inasmuch as Pope Boniface affirms that a pope can renounce these things, he affirms that all three must be renounced to effect a papal renunciation, on this account, that in affirming the papal power extends over these, he implicitly asserts that if the papal power does NOT extend over each of these, then the renunciation has not taken place.

This follows from the rules of the science of Logic, which teaches that every negation must be understood strictly. Thus, since a renunciation is a form of negation, a renunciation of the papacy must renounce the office, the charge and the dignity. If one renounced only the exercise of the office and continued to exercise the passive ministry, retain the dignity of being called Your Holiness, giving the Apostolic Blessing, wearing the clothing which only the Pope can wear, it would be clear that one’s resignation had not occurred, because there is no renunciation of all right, unless all right be renounced.

Pope Boniface VIII, eminent legal scholar that he was, obviates these problems which arise from renunciation-law by using the intransitive form of the verb to resign [resignare] in his final affirmation of papal power. This is because, unlike “to renounce” [renuntiare], to resign implies of itself the renunciation of office and all its right, on account of its original meaning to re-signare, or undo the seal which enacted or approved a thing. In Latin, resignare, thus, has the meaning of annul or cancel, as well as resign, and recalls the powers invested in the office of Saint Peter, when Our Lord said: whatsoever you loose ….

The present Code of Canon Law by employing the verb to renounce [renunciare], thus requires that the object of the act munus, be a word which is full of meaning, rich in meaning, and encompassing all that is essential to an act of renunciation of papal office: the office, the charge and the dignity. The brilliance of the Latinity of those who prepared the New Code under Pope John Paul II is seen in this one word, munus, which means both gift [munus in Latin means gift, its used in the Liturgy for the gifts of the Magi], and office [canon 145 terms every ecclesiastical office a munus], charge [munus and onus in Latin share this meaning] and that which up-builds a person [munire in Latin means to build up, or fortify]. In English we see this in the words ammunition and munificence. On this account, if one were to renounce the papal office with any term which is not co-extensive with all three aspects of the Papal office, its clear that the renunciation would be incomplete, and therefore of no effect in law. Nay, since we men are creatures whose understanding is bound up with the words we use to express ourselves, its clear that if one were to use another term with deliberation, his consequent actions would reflect that partial renunciation and incomplete resignation. This should be now obvious to all, who have eyes to see.

¡No hay excusa ante Dios o la Iglesia!

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La realidad más decepcionante en la Iglesia católica actual no es la perversión sexual, por muy asquerosa que sea. Porque mientras que los actos de perversión sexual son moralmente incorrectos, si un hombre conserva la verdad de la Fe, todavía existe la posibilidad de su arrepentimiento.

Entonces, la tragedia más grande es, pues, la pérdida de la Fe, la pérdida de la verdad. Cuando una mente llega a amar mentiras, a amar mentir, a vivir en la mendacidad y a defender y promover la mendacidad, el alma del hombre ha descendido a regiones infernales.

Tal alma no tiene nada de sí misma o en sí misma para disponerla para que se arrepienta, porque ha dado la espalda a la verdad.

Por eso, en cuanto a la controversia sobre la renuncia de Benedicto, los que dicen que renunció válidamente, no tienen excusa ante Dios o la Iglesia.

Debido a que, como el Vicario de Jesucristo, Juan Pablo II decreta en el Canon 332 §2, la validez de una renuncia papal surge solo de causas objetivas, no depende de que usted o yo digamos si es válida o no.

De hecho, por lo que ese canon declara en su cláusula final, NADIE EN LA IGLESIA tiene el derecho o la autoridad de decir que una renuncia que no esté en conformidad con ese Canon es válida.

Canon 332 §2 – Si el Romano Pontífice renunciase a su MUNUS, se requiere para la validez que la renuncia sea libre y se manifieste formalmente, pero no que sea aceptada por nadie.

Así, EL ÚNICO CRITERIO para juzgar la validez de una renuncia papal está en los hechos objetivos del acto de renuncia:

  1. Hay una renuncia del MUNUS papal.
  2. Esa renuncia se hace libremente, sin la imposición de fuerza injusta.
  3. Esa renuncia se manifiesta debidamente de acuerdo con las normas de la ley por un acto verbal público.

Eso significa que NADIE tiene el derecho de especular si la renuncia es válida o no: solo es válida si cumple con las TRES condiciones simultáneamente. NO ES VÁLIDA, de lo contrario, es decir, si no cumple alguna de estas condiciones.

Por lo tanto, cada cardenal, obispo, sacerdote o cualquier cabeza habladora que sale en las redes sociales, cada periodista, laico, laico o religioso consagrado, ESTÁN OBLIGADOS POR LA FE CATÓLICA para juzgar la renuncia del Papa Benedicto XVI como INVÁLIDA, PORQUE

  1. EL PAPA BENEDICTO NUNCA RENUNCIÓ a su MUNUS.

de hecho, el 11 de febrero de 2013, dijo explícitamente, renuncio al ministerio que recibí …

Eso hace que su acto de renuncia sea NULO Y ANULADO, porque no está en conformidad con la obligación de renunciar al MUNUS papal.

Por lo tanto, todos los argumentos a favor de la validez, todas las racionalizaciones, todas las especulaciones acerca de la intención de renunciar a la oficina, NO TIENEN SENTIDO. Aquellos que realizan tales actos intelectuales o verbales NO TIENEN DERECHO A HABLAR Y NINGUNA AUTORIDAD PARA JUZGAR EL ASUNTO.

Por lo tanto, ruego a todos los católicos: no sigan el camino de Lucifer, quien se rebeló al principio de los tiempos, porque quería su propia voluntad, no la de Dios. No siga el camino de Adán y Eva, que no escucharon a Dios y no mortificaron sus mentes y su corazón, sino que se rebelaron y le dijeron a Dios lo que estaba bien y lo que estaba mal. No sigan a los judíos sin fe, que habiendo visto todos los milagros de Jesús y su inmaculada santidad e integridad, eligieron rechazarlo por hacer su propia voluntad y seguir a las elites de su propio tiempo.

Le pongo en aviso. Rechace el significado claro del Canon 332 §2 y trate de obviarlo con especulaciones y excusas, y será condenado de manera que Dios lo privará de la Luz y de toda gracia.

Porque al hacer eso, NO TIENE EXCUSA ANTES DE DIOS O LA IGLESIA.

For more on this controversy see:

The History of the Controversy over the Validity of Benedict’s resignation (y en Espanol aqui)

All the major Arguments for the Validity, and their refutations (y en Espanol aqui)

Why Pope Francis is, by the law itself, an Anti-Pope

The will of Jesus Christ is at the core of this Controversy

Common errors of Canonists who are trained in Juridical Positivism, not the Mind of the Church.

My Reply to Archbishop Ganswein, and Cardinals Brandmuller and Burke

My Criticism of Dr. Roberto de Mattei

My Amazement at Cardinal Brandmuller’s lack of Cognizance of Canon 332 §2