Investigating the causes of Pope Benedict’s invalid Abdication


By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

As is now notorious, Pope Benedict’s act of resignation of February 11, 2013 was invalid on account of not being in conformity with Canon 332 §2. Here at, the From Rome Blog, I have written about this extensively and subjected the text to a Scholastic analysis, demonstrating, I believe, conclusively, that the signification of the text can not be rationally said to conform to the norm of the law.

As a Latin translator of Ecclesiastical texts, I have wondered daily for six months how a mind such as that of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, could fall into such a grievous substantial error of mistaking the very object (cf. 126) of the act of a papal resignation, which is a renunciation of the Petrine Munus, to be rather a renunciation of the Petrine Ministry.

Ann Barnhardt sees malice in this, in an attempt to bifurcate the papacy. Her collaborators in Germany have found much evidence to this effect.  But as a Franciscan, who is obligated by the Rule of Saint Francis to recognize the canonically elected popes and show them respect, I consider it my duty to investigate other causes which involve less or no culpability. I take the position of the international Association, Veri Catholici, that we need not presume malice, ignorance suffices, if ignorance can be demonstrated.

In my recent article, the other day, on the Falsification of the Vernacular translations of the text of Renunciation, I showed conclusively that the Vatican has misrepresented the signification of the Latin Text of the act, which is the only official canonical text.

In that study, however, it was evident that the German translation was anomalous, that is, that it had entirely different errors than the other translations. These anomalies led me to today’s investigation.

Archbishop Gänswein and the German Translation of the Code of Canon Law

In the German translation of the Act of Renunciation, the anomalies are as follows:

  1. The Latin word, munus, is translated as Dienst.
  2. The Latin word, ministerium, is translated  sometimes as Amt, sometimes as Dienst.
  3. The syntactical association of the act of renunciation is followed by the correct translation of ita ut.

Following the forensic principle of Aristotle, that where there are 2 differing consequences there are 2 different causes, but when there is the same consequence, there is a unity among causes, I am led by comparison to conjecture why this may be the case.

Recall, if you may, the speech given by Archbishop Georg Ganswein at the Pontifical University of St Gregory the Great, in 2016, which sparked so much amazement, because in it, he said that Pope Benedict still shared in the Petrine Ministry and held the Papal Office.

Recently, however, Archbishop Gänswein, to both a German journalist and a journalist working for Life Site News, withdrew his assertions, claiming that he had misused the words for office and munus, in his German text.

Now, supposing that the Act of Renunciation, in the German translation, was overseen by Archbishop Gänswein, we might conclude that he has something to do with the anomalies it contains

This consideration alone, however, did not satisfy me, so I examined the causes for the Archbishop’s errors in German. Naturally, therefore, I went back to the Code of Canon Law in the Latin (the official text) and to the Vatican’s German translation (unofficial, but in practice used by German Speakers).

At the Vatican Website, you notice immediately that the German translation of Pope John Paul II’s Code of Canon Law is better linked than the English. In the German, the index contains links from each line of text, but in the English, the index contains links only in the titles to the books. This gives one to think that some German speaker was using the German translation of the Code quite frequently and has the authority to get the Vatican webmaster to add all the referential URLs, to make that edition more facile in its use.

This argues that Archbishop Gänswein, if not Benedict himself, frequently used the German translation.

O.K., that appears to be an obvious assumption, but there is a problem.  THE GERMAN TEXT IS ERRONEOUS. And not in a small way! In a very crucial manner: it gets the translation of Munus  WRONG! And that in a way that anyone using it, as a guide on how to Renounce the Papal Office, would write an invalid formula of resignation!

Let me explain, therefore, Why and How, Perhaps, Pope Benedict got his Act of Renunciation wrong in the Latin, and thus never in fact or before God resigned.

The key Canons which one must consult regarding how to write a valid act of renunciation of the papal office are canon 332 §2 and canon 145 §1. This is because in the former, the conditions for a valid resignation are stated, and in the latter, the nature of every ecclesiastical office are defined.

Let’s look at each in the German:

Can. 332 — 2. Falls der Papst auf sein Amt verzichten sollte, ist zur Gültigkeit verlangt, daß der Verzicht frei geschieht und hinreichend kundgemacht, nicht jedoch, daß er von irgendwem angenommen wird.

The error in this German translation is minor: it renders the Latin, Pontifex Romanus (Roman Pontiff) with the German, Papst, (Pope).  However, it correctly translates the sense of the Latin, munus, as Amt.  Because, in this canon, the Latin, Munus, has the sense of office, which is what the German, Amt, means.

It must be noted, here, that in the German translation of the Act of Renunciation, the author of that text in the crucial act of renunciation uses the correct German word for a VALID renunciation, Amt! — The only problem is, Pope Benedict XVI did NOT resign in German, he resigned in Latin!

But this anomaly of the German translation of the Act of renunciation does reveal, that at least ONE German speaker, the author of the translation, THOUGHT the act was a renunciation of the Papal MUNUS.

Now, let’s look at the other canon:

Can. 145 — § 1. Kirchenamt ist jedweder Dienst, der durch göttliche oder kirchliche Anordnung auf Dauer eingerichtet ist und der Wahrnehmung eines geistlichen Zweckes dient.

The importance of canon 145 §1 in the Code of Canon Law is this, that it DEFINES the nature of an ecclesiastical office (officium) as a munus.  As I have discussed in my commentary on Boniface VIII’s Quoniam, the Latin word, munus, is the perfect word for an ecclesiastical office, since it signifies both that the office is a dignity, a charge or burden, and a gift, which upbuilds the one who receives it with grace. There is no 1 word in any modern language, to my knowledge, which has all the senses of the Latin word, munus.

For this reason, its difficult to translate munus properly, which is why I use the Latin word even in English prose. (The German Translation of the Code, which appears on the Vatican Website, seems to be that by Father Winfried Aymans, JCD, an eminent doctor of Canon Law from the Diocese of Bonn, Germany. Who however, does not seem to be a Latinist per se, though, to his merit, he be a signer of the Correctio Filialis)

So in this German translation, we see the TERRIBLE error:  Every ecclesiastical office (Kirchenamt) is defined as a Dienst!  But Dienst as every German speaker knows, means what we in English mean by service, and what every Latin speaker means by ministerium.  So the German translation of canon 145 says:  Every ecclesiastical office is a ministry! When the Code of Canon Law in Latin actually says: Every ecclesiastical office is a munus!

In fact, in the code of Canon Law, in the Latin, Pope John Paul II never speaks of any ecclesiastical office as a ministry (ministerium), but always as an office (officium) or munus.

This means, that if any German speaker read canon 145 §1 in the German, as found on the Vatican Website, and probably in most German translations of the Code of Canon Law, he would be mislead into thinking that to resign an ecclesiastical office its sufficient to renounce the ministry of that office! — But this is precisely the error in the Papal Resignation!

If we go back to the other vernacular translations of the Act of Renunciation, which I analyzed in my previous post, we see that all of them follow the erroneous German translation of munus in the German Translation of the Code of Canon Law! But, illogically and inconsistently, also follow the erroneous Latin text of Pope Benedict when he says ministerium in the Act of resignation.  Thus the vernacular translations (excepting the German) are reading in some places the Latin original of the renunciation, in other places, the German translation of the Code and Act of resignation!  This is the scientific reason why the vernacular translations are worthless if not maliciously contrived.

The error in canon 145 §1 might also explain why Pope Benedict thought that in writing ministerio in the Latin text of his renunciation, he thought he was writing munus, because the erroneous translation makes it appear that the German for munus is the same as the Latin, ministerium. For the German of Canon 145 §1 says that every Amt is a Dienst (which in Latin is a ministerium, but in canon 145 §1 is the German translation for munus), and the German of Canon 332 §2, says a Pope resigns when he renounces his Amt. So it appears that Benedict was mislead into thinking that in Latin, if he renounced his Amt, he could sufficient signify that by renouncing his ministerium!

I pray to God, therefore, that SOMEONE in the Church, who can speak with Pope Benedict XVI in person, makes this known to him!



Whether, with all Cardinal electors defecting, the Roman Church has the right to elect the Pope?


By Alexis Bugnolo

In High Scholasticism, the Catholic Theologians, Saints and Doctors of the Church often considered many questions which were speculative, either in regard to what was true but unknowable by man (being hid in the mystery of God) or what could be in a special circumstance which may or may not ever come to be. As founder of The Scholasticum, an Italian non profit dedicated to the revival of the Scholastic Method, I believe that the Scholastic Method can greatly assist the Church even in Her most pressing needs and extraordinary crises. For that reason, I present here a Disputed Question, the import of which may arise, if His Holiness Benedict XVI pass to the Lord before Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and then only if, at such a time, the Cardinals holding fast to the faulty notion that Benedict’s resignation was valid, fail to convene within 20 days to elect his successor. For in accord with the current law on Papal Elections, Universi Dominici Gregis, n.37  Cardinals who do not attend a Conclave with that period no longer have their votes counted. (All references are to the new Code of Canon Law, Latin text; and the papal law on electing the Pope, Latin test.)

Whether, with all Cardinal electors defecting, the Roman Church has the right to elect the Pope?

And it seems that she does not:

1. For only the Cardinals of the Roman Church have the right to elect the Roman Pontiff, according to what is stated in Canon 349, where it says cui competit ut electioni Romani Pontificis provideat ad normam iuris peculiaris.  Therefore, since the Roman Church includes those Cardinals, Bishops and Clergy who are not Cardinal Electors, they have no such right. Therefore, the Church of Rome has no right to elect a Pope, even if all the Cardinal Electors fail to elect one.

2. Likewise, since the College of Cardinals has no authority during a Sede Vacante to act other than what is provided for in special law, namely, in the Law for Papal Elections, Universi Dominici Gregis, and this according to Canon 359, which reads: Sede Apostolica vacante, Cardinalium Collegium ea tantum in Ecclesia gaudet potestate, quae in peculiari lege eidem tribuitur; It follows that neither does the Roman Church, because what is denied a superior, is denied also to the inferior. But the College of Cardinals is denied license to act in any other way that what is proscribed in law, therefore also the entire Church of Rome which is inferior to the College.

3. Likewise, since the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, n.4, expressly forbids any variation or alteration in law during a Sede Vacante, when it says: Sede Apostolica vacante, leges a Romanis Pontificibus latas non licet ullo modo corrigi vel immutari, neque quidquam detrahi iis sive addi vel dispensari circa partes earum, maxime eas, quae ad ordinandum negotium electionis Summi Pontificis pertinent. Si quid contra hoc praescriptum fieri vel attentari contigerit, id suprema Nostra auctoritate nullum et irritum declaramus; there is nothing which the Roman Church can do, even if all the Cardinals defect, since there is no provision in Canon Law for such action.

4. Likewise, the ancient right of the Roman Church to elect the Roman Pontiff was abrogated when that right was restricted to the Roman Clergy, and again, when that right was further restricted to the Cardinals of the Roman Church. Therefore, no such right exists.

5. Likewise, the ancient right of the Roman Church to elect the Pope was no more than a custom of the Roman Church. But laws of custom have no force if they have not been observed for 1300 years (cf. Canon 26). Therefore, the Roman Church has no such right.


It seems that she does:

1. By Apostolic Institution of the Apostle Saint Peter, the Roman Church undubitably enjoyed the right to elect the Roman Pontiff.  This right was restricted by special degree in the 7th century to the Roman Clergy, and in 11th century to the Cardinals of the Roman Church. Yet such a restriction which was prudential and a benefice cannot extinguish the apostolic right, in accord with the principle of law, which states that general prescriptions take precedence to special benefices: Generale praescriptum beneficio speciali anteferendum est (Theodosian Code: DEM AAA. VICTORIO P(RO)C(ONSULI) ASIAE). Therefore, in the case that there are no Cardinal Electors, whether in fact or by defection to an Anti-Pope, or to a Heretical or Schismatic Church, the apostolic right of the Roman Church revives. Therefore, the Roman Church has such a right in their absence.

2. Likewise, by the Code of Canon Law, which declares that all rights which have never been revoked remain in force, according to canon 4, which reads: Iura quaesita, itemque privilegia quae, ab Apostolica Sede ad haec usque tempora personis sive physicis sive iuridicis concessa, in usu sunt nec revocata, integra manent, nisi huius Codicis canonibus expresse revocentur; but the right to elect the Roman Pontiff was indubitably granted by the Apostle Saint Peter to the Roman Church, and that right has never been revoked. Nay, it is the very justification and inherent principle maintained when the Roman Synod in the 7th century restricted the exercise of that right to the Clergy, and when the Pope in the 11th century restricted it further to the College of Cardinals. This is confirmed by canon 6 §4, which restricts the abrogation of previous laws and rights to those things which are integrally expressed in the New Code. But such case, of having no Cardinal Electors, is not provided for. Therefore, it is not integrally included. Therefore, the rights to be referred to in such a case are NOT obrogated. Therefore, that right remains in force always to be revived.

3. Likewise, the ancient right of the Roman Church to elect the Roman Pontiff was ever held to have the force of law. This is self evident from history. But as canon 25, teaches: Nulla consuetudo vim legis obtinet, nisi a communitate legis saltem recipiendae capaci cum animo iuris inducendi servata fuerit. But, such is the case with the ancient right of the Roman Church, especially since when this right was restricted, the ancient reason for it was never denied or explicitly abrogated. This is proven by the fact that the Cardinals are still called Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Therefore, in the absence of all Cardinals, whether by bad will or substantial error, the right returns to the Roman Church.

4. Likewise, custom is the best interpreter of law (Canon 27). But, when Pope John Paul II was near death, the Cardinals and Bishops in his presence presumed his consent to use his signet ring to appoint Bishops which he had already considered for nomination. And no one in the Church objected to this. Therefore, it is right to presume the consent of a lawgiver, in cases in which he never foresaw. But such is the case of a substantial error in a papal resignation, when all the Cardinals fail to notice that substantial error and are consequently led not to convene in Conclave to elect a successor, but cleave instead to an Anti-Pope which they elected uncanonically during the lifetime of the Pope. Therefore, in such an unforseen and extraordinary case, the Roman Church has a right to have recourse to the ancient law.

5. Likewise, from the principle of subsidiarity, that, namely, when a higher or more dignified part of the body politic fail, the right to act passes to the subordinate authority. This is based on the teaching of Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. But, with all the Cardinals failing, it would be wrong to deny what the lesser and subordinate organization, the Roman Church, can do. Therefore, if all the Cardinal Electors fail to act on account of an obstruction which they themselves cannot or fail to remove, the Roman Church, as the entity to which they belong by incardination, receives license to resort to the Apostolic right which it has ever enjoyed, in part or whole, of electing the Roman Pontiff.

6. Likewise, from the Code of Canon Law itself, in canon 28: nisi expressam de iis mentionem faciat, lex non revocat consuetudines centenarias aut immemorabiles; hence, since the apostolic right of the Roman Church is of time immemorial, and since that right is not expressly revoked in the present Code, it remains in force, in due circumstances. But the absence of all Cardinals Electors is not only a due circumstance, but one which puts the very constitution of the Church in the gravest danger, since the Office of Saint Peter is not only useful but necessary for the salvation of souls. Therefore, such a right cannot be considered abrogated by the new Code nor by the papal law on the Election of the Roman Pontiff, even if it seems to be expressly abrogated. Therefore, the Roman Church has such a right, in such circumstances.


I RESPOND:  It must be said, that whether by good will or bad, the act of electing a Roman Pontiff during the life time of a validly elected Roman Pontiff is both a crime against God and against the unity of the Church. It is a crime against God, since Christ has ordained only one man to be pope at any given time. Its a crime against the unity of the Church, since it causes a de facto schism between those who adhere to the true Pope and those who adhere to usurper and false pretender.  Now, even if the Cardinals who do this, do so without malice, but operate under substantial error, nevertheless before the law they must be held to be guilty of the sin and crime of schism, whereby they lose every office and privilege in the Church.

Now the Roman Church, which has ever held the right by apostolic privilege of electing the Roman Pontiff, enjoys in a special way the promise and right granted by Our Lord when He declares that “the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against My Church.” But the Gates of Hell would prevail against the Roman Church if she were deprived of a validly elected Pope and forced to submit to a pertinacious public heretic, apostate or Freemason.  Therefore, the Church of Rome has the right to elect the Roman Pontiff, in the special case wherein all the Cardinal Electors fail to exercise their right to do so. But in accord with the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, this right must be exercised within 20 days after the death of the Roman Pontiff.

Therefore, if Pope Benedict XVI dies before Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and after 20 days no Cardinal Elector convenes in Conclave to elect his successor, the Roman Church, composed of all the Cardinals, Bishops and Clergy, incardinated in the Diocese of Rome, excluding those who adhere to the de facto schism, have the right to elect the Roman Pontiff.

For this reason, the arguments to the contrary are to be accepted, which sufficiently refute the arguments which contradict them.