Meet Giovanna Chirri, mother of the notion that Benedict resigned the papacy

giovannachirri_904617

This is our English translation of the article published by ChiesaRomana.info yesterday.

How did it happen that the entire world
thinks that Pope Benedict XVI
renounced the papacy?

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Behind every great man, there is a woman;
and behind every great act of a man, the insistence of a woman.

Today, nearly the entire world believes that Pope Benedict XVI renounced the papacy on Feb. 11, 2013.

And perhaps, dear readers, you think so too.

But the truth of what really happened that day has been obscured by the psychological presumption induced by the announcement made moments after the renunciation, by Mrs. Chirri. I am not kidding you!

Did you know that? The entire world thinks that way because of a single tweet, from a pool reporter for ANSA, known as Mrs. Giovanna Chirri. and here is that tweet:

In English, that reads:

B16 has resigned. He leaves the pontificate as of February 28.

This tweet is in fact the first announcement of the renunciation. It caused Giovanna Chirri to become immediately the most famous journalist in the world, for that moment. For the sake of posterity she subsequently gave several interviews so that we all might understand better the series of events which took place on that day.  Here is her testimony, given to the magazine, Familiga Cristiana, on the third anniversary of the Renunciation (Italian original here), the English translation of which is our own:

Though the Consistory should have concluded at that moment, the Pope remained seated, and began to read, again in Latin, from a white sheet which he held in his hand.  He said two things first of all: that he had not convoked the Cardinals solely to hear his approval of two decrees for the canonization of saints, but that he had to say something “important for the life of the Church”, and that he was growing old: his precise words were ingravescente aetate.  At these words I felt as if a hand was placed upon my throat and a ball was being inflated in my head: because Ingravescentem aetatem is the document whereby Pope Paul VI took from the Cardinals the right to elect a pope, after they obtained their eightieth year of age: they were words which signified retirement.  Benedict XVI continued to speak in a Latin, which fortunately was much more comprehensible than that of Cardinal Amato; he spoke for some time, saying that he no longer had the strength to govern the Barque of Peter in a world which is increasingly face paced.  He explained that in conscience he had decided to leave, that the Cardinals will have to hold a Conclave to elect a successor and that he was establishing the beginning of the sede vacante at 8 pm on February 28.

I heard what he said but as one who had not heard; I was breathless and my legs trembled as I sat. I could not hold my left hand steady, even when I tried with my right hand.  I began to make telephone calls seeking help and confirmations.  At the Vatican, where obviously, everyone had something else on their mind, no one picked up the phone.  I was prey to a sensation of terror which I had never experienced in my life.  At this point, Pope Ratzinger had finished speaking. Some of the faces of those present grew pale; Monsignor Guido Pozzo, sitting next to him, seem to have turned to stone; different Cardinals had fixed stares and the muscles of their faces were frozen.  In an unreal silence, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, said in Italian: “This news strikes us as a bolt of lighting out of the blue”.

As you continue to read her testimony in Italian, you see immediately that after three years, she has understood in part the error she made that day, for she no longer speaks of a renunciation of the papacy, but expressly now speaks only of a renunciation of ministry.

Hence, if on February 11, 2013, Mrs. Chirri announced to the world one thing, and three years after in 2016, she explains that Benedict had renounced something else, perhaps we can shake off our presumption that what she said first was correct? One thinks so.

Compare what she said in 2014 on the first anniversary of the renunciation, when she was interviewed by Antonio Sanfrancesco, likewise of Famiglia Cristiana, in an article entitled, La Giornalista che diede la notizia, Non rispiravo, ero terrorizato (qui). A title – which in English, means: The Giornalist who broke the story, I could not breath, I was terrorized – which does not give the reader any confidence that she had a clear mind at the moment of her tweet.

This history and the alteration of the narrative is important for all of us because, according to the norm of Canon Law, there is no canon which regards a renunciation of ministry!  This is because in the Code of Canon Law of 1983, ministry is never associated with power or office, but only with action or the execution of a duty.  Moreover, in canon 1331 §2 °4, ministry is not even listed among those things which an excommunicated person is forbidden to acquire.  Hence, in the Code, an excommunicate can exercise a ministry.

Obviously, if the thing, according to its genus, which Pope Benedict renounced on Feb. 11, 2013 is something which someone not in communion with the Church or with the pope, can exercise, how can it be possible that in renouncing it Pope Benedict separated himself from the papal office? That does not make sense. It’s not even rational to contemplate.

Hence, it appears that in changing her story, Mrs. Chirri no longer agrees with what she wrote on that day:

Indeed, let us read that tweet with precision: it contains the words, dimesso, lascia and pontificato, which in English are resigned, leave and pontifcate.  But no where in the Latin text of the renunciation does Pope Benedict use any Latin words which mean these things!

Hence, if we are to speak properly and with precision, her tweet is not a report of news, but an interpretation of the event, an interpretation which arises out of the state of her mind in that moment in which she rushed to get the scoop on the news before any other journalist.

Now, at last, perhaps the time has come for the Church to recognize that none of us is obligated to understand that act of renunciation according to the state of mind of Mrs. Chirri, the Mother of the Papal Resignation. I call her, “the Mother of the Papal Resignation”, because in the understanding of the world, it was she who gave everyone to understand the act as an act of renunciation of the papacy, not merely of the ministry, an understanding and interpretation which all who study Canon Law are forcing themselves to find in the Code of Canon Law, but fail to do so, because it ain’t there.

ORIGINAL CREDITS: Testo di Famiglia Cristiana citato dall’articolo citato qui sopra. L’immagine in evidenza, della Sig.ra Chirri trovato sulla pagina di Famiglia Cristiana nel articolo di 11 Febbraio 2014, citato qui sopra, ma senza attribuzione di proprietà intellettuale. Si presume fair use per tutti due. Il tweet di Chirri è replicata dal suo conto su Twitter che è ancora in rete.

5 comments on “Meet Giovanna Chirri, mother of the notion that Benedict resigned the papacy

  1. briangodsplanforlifeorg says:

    Br. Alexis:
    Since Benedict announced the date that the Sede Vacante would take place, doesn’t the term “Sede” equal “Seat” which equals “munus” which equals “0ffice”? If so, this statement could be interpreted as resigning the munus.
    Brian

    Sent from my iPhone
    Brian Murphy

  2. The Editor says:

    Hey Brian, I welcome that fact that you are beginning to think about the problem of signification in the act, so I refer you to ppbxvi.org which contains the canonical argument, an academic conference and my scholastic question, the last of which in PDF confronts that difficulty.

  3. Em S says:

    When the entire Church obeys a damn “tweet” before Canon Law, you know the end is nigh. They have crucified and buried Reason for good.

  4. The Editor says:

    Em S, your comment is the best summation of my article, that I can think of….

  5. […] Meet Giovanni Chirri, mother of the notion that Benedict resigned the Papacy […]

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