How usurpation of the Papacy leads to the excommunication of the participating Cardinal Electors and Bishops

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

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Canon 359 expressly withdraws authority from the College of Cardinals to elect a Pope, when the Papal Office is still retained by another: there being no sede vacante. To call a conclave when there is still a true Pope, thus, is illicit. To elect another is to participate actively and immediately in the crime of the usurpation of the Papal Office.

Usurpation is the crime whereby someone without a legitimate claim, lays hold upon or claims an office which is not his.  In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Usurpation is discussed under several canons, usurpation of office in canon 1381.

Though the crime of usurping the papacy is not named in the code expressly — since it has not occurred for centuries, those participating in such a crime can still be excommunicated latae sententiae out of the consequences of such an act, and this in two ways: 1) by the Anti-Pope ordaining bishops and collaborating with him in that, 2) by the crime of schism.

The first regards the crime of usurpation itself in the act of ordaining Bishops.

The worse crime of usurpation mentioned explicitly in the code is in canon 1382:

Can. 1382 — A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

Pope John Paul II cited this canon to declare that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Society of Saint Pius X, was excommunicate on account of his ordination of their 4 Bishops. Bergoglio cited this same canon to “excommunicate” Bishop Williamson, after he was reconciled by Pope Benedict XVI, who undid John Paul II’s excommunication.

This applies to Anti-Popes, inasmuch as not being the legitimate successors of Saint Peter, their ordaining of Bishops is without true pontifical mandate.  It also applies to Bishops who ordain those nominated by Bergoglio, since they too have no true pontifical mandate to act.

Accomplices of both are also punished by the same punishment, as is clear from canon 1329.

Can. 1329 — §1. If ferendae sententiae penalties are established for the principal perpetrator, those who conspire together to commit a delict and are not expressly named in a law or precept are subject to the same penalties or to others of the same or lesser gravity.

§2. Accomplices who are not named in a law or precept incur a latae sententiae penalty attached to a delict if without their assistance the delict would not have been committed, and the penalty is of such a nature that it can affect them; otherwise, they can be punished by ferendae sententiae penalties.

Since the excommunication leveled in canon 1382 takes place immediately without the necessity of any public declaration by any authority, in accord with Canon 1329 §2 all the Cardinals involved in the uncanonical election of an Anti-Pope are also ipso facto excommunicated, since they participate intimately and immediately in his claim to exercise the pontifical mandate.

While it can be argued that those in substantial error as to the invalidity of Benedict’s resignation ought not be excommunicated, because they had good will, they must confront canon 15, which says in § 2: Ignorance or error about a law, a penalty, a fact concerning oneself, or a notorious fact concerning another is not presumedThus, as soon as any Cardinal Elector sees that Benedict resigned the ministerium, not the munus, and that Canon 322 §2 requires the resignation munus — all the while refusing to repudiate the validity of that resignation — he becomes indisputably culpable of the usurpation of the Papal office by way of consent to uphold Bergoglio’s claim to exercise the pontifical mandate, and as such, merits punishment under canons 1382 and 1329 §2.

The second way to excommunication latae sententiae, is through the crime of schism.

Cardinals and Bishops participating in supporting an Anti-Pope are also involved in the crime of schism, since they formally separate themselves from communion to the true Pope. Thus they are also subject to excommunication from canon

Can. 1364 — §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

Thus, the controversy over the invalidity of Pope Benedict’s resignation becomes one of the greatest import for Catholics, to know who is truly their pastors and who are truly schismatics and excommunicates.  This is not a joking matter, and any Cardinal or Bishop who treats it as such, should be sternly reminded of such.

Presumption and Silence

Finally, it needs to be pointed out, that whereas there is a presumption of validity of every Conclave, in the event of the death of the Roman Pontiff, however, in the case of a papal resignation, there is no such presumption, and since it is the grave duty of the Cardinals to act in accord with Canon Law in the election of the Roman Pontiff, they had the grave and solemn duty to verify that the resignation of Pope Benedict was in conformity with Canon 332 §2.  If they did verify that, why have they never admitted to having verified it? And if they did not, they ostensibly become culpable of usurpation out of negligence in so grave a duty.

Indeed, the Vatican is full of Doctors of Canon Law, but to my knowledge neither in February of 2013 nor in the following six years, as any Canon Lawyer from the Vatican published any study showing that Non solum propter effects a valid resignation in conformity to canon 322 §2. Nor does it seem that anyone in the Diplomatic Corps asked the Vatican for such a verification.* Nor does it seem that the Italian Government, bound by the Lateran Treaty to uphold only constitutional governments in the Vatican, ever asked for such a verification or explanation. — If this be true, its of the gravest indications that the resignation was never put to any kind of rational scrutiny, but was presumed to be valid by a bunch of giddy men who wanted Benedict out of the way.


For my Scholastic Disputation on the Papal Act of February 11, 2013, see here in English, and here in Spanish translation. For a summary of the Canonical Argument against validity, see Veri Catholici, here in English, and here in Italian translation.

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Image Credits:  Getty Images, Conclave of March 2013.

* For example, Eduard Hapsburg, the Ambassador of Hungary to the Vatican, recently insulted Catholics who question the validity of the resignation. But when asked for a verification of the resignation, remained utterly silent.

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The Myths used to defend Team Bergoglio from UDG 81

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio takes the vow of secrecy at opening of the 2013 Conclave (BBC, screenshote by From Rome blog, cropped)Rome, October 1, 2015 A.D:  Following the revelations, reported by noted Vaticanistas, Edward Pentin and Marco Tosatti, that Cardinal Danneels, in his new biography, admits that a group of Cardinals, in direct violation of the Papal Law, for Papal Elections, Universi Dominici Gregis, organized in 1996 a group which is named, the “Club of St. Gallen” — so called, after the town in Switzerland where it met, and which group Cardinal Danneels called, a “mafiaclub” — formed for the purpose of radically changing the Church and the Catholic Religion, and in recent years formally committed to the promotion of the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergolgio as the next pope:  a series of commentators, notably “Msgr. Athanasius” at the Remnant and Canon Peters have alleged that the penalties of UDG 81, namely, excommunication latae sententiae, on all who violate the proper proceedures of papal elections by canvassing for votes or vote promissing, are not applicable or if they are do not touch upon the validity of the papal election of 2013.

You need to read Latin to read the Law

First, both commentators, writing in the English language, show themselves ignorant of the distinction in Canon Law between an excommunication which is threatened and an excommunication which is declared or imposed.

When the Code of Canon law specifies that a specific crime is to be punished by excommunication, an excommunication is threatened.  In such canons, the law specifies that the maximum punishment, excommunication, may be imposed.

When the Pope or some competent authority by a specific act declares the penalty upon an individual, the excommunication is declared.

But some special laws can impose an excommunication in virtue of the very deed committed, ipso facto. These impositions by special law for all who in the future commit such actions are true impositions, as the Latin language indicates by the use of the verbs, incurrere, irrogare and innodare.

We see this in the Code itself, which specifies in the Official English translation:

Can. 1314Generally, a penalty is ferendae sententiae, so that it does not bind the guilty party until after it has been imposed; if the law or precept expressly establishes it, however, a penalty is latae sententiae, so that it is incurred ipso facto when the delict is committed.

This becomes evident in the Latin text of that canon, which reads:

Can. 1314 — Poena plerumque est ferendae sententiae, ita ut reum non teneat, nisi postquam irrogata sit; est autem latae sententiae, ita ut in eam incurratur ipso facto commissi delicti, si lex vel praeceptum id expresse statuat.

In Latin, Irrogari means “to inflict” or “impose”, incurrere means to run into or upon; innodare, beings to be bound up by.  The metaphors are equivalent, for when one has been penalized for a crime, he has has its penalty bound to himself and has run into or been tied up by the penalty.  Ferendae sententiae means a punishment which “is to be placed” upon the criminal, latae sententiae means a punishment which “has been placed” upon the criminal.  Thus, it is evident that in cases of excommunications which are latae sententiae ipso facto, the penalty has already been imposed.

Pope John Paul II made it clear he was imposing a penalty upon all future violators

Now in the case of the actions prohibited by UDG 81, Pope John Paul II uses very specific language in the original Latin.  As I wrote back on Nov. 28, 2014, but which seems to have been forgotten by the recent commentators:

Let’s take a look, then, at the Latin original, to understand better how, not just any specific form of vote canvassing is a crime according to the Pope who “brought down the Wall”:

81. Cardinales electores praeterea abstineant ab omnibus pactionibus, conventionibus, promissionibus aliisque quibusvis obligationibus, quibus astringi possint ad suffragium cuidam vel quibusdam dandum aut recusandum. Quae omnia, si reapse intervenerint, etiam iure iurando adiecto, decernimus ea nulla et irrita esse, neque eadem observandi obligatione quemquam teneri; facientes contra iam nunc poena excommunicationis latae sententiae innodamus. Vetari tamen non intellegimus, ne per tempus Sedis vacantis de electione sententiae invicem communicentur.

The official English translation from the Vatican Website, renders this text, thus:

81. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.

 This translation is not exact.  Here is my own exact translation:

81. Let the Cardinal electors, moreover, abstain from all pacts, agreements, promises and any other obligations you like, by which they might be constrained to give or refuse support (suffragium) for anyone (sing. & plural).  All of which, if these were to occur, even when with a foreswearing, We decree are null and void, and none of them are to be held by any obligation of observance; those acting against (this), We now, hereby, bind up with the punishment of excommunication latae sententiae.  Yet, We do not understand to be forbidden, that they communicate with one another concerning the election, during the time of the Sedevacante.

As can be seen, Pope John Paul II, at that moment IMPOSES the penalty of excommunication ipso facto, and this, not upon the act but upon all the persons who will commit the act.  Thus all who commit the forbidden acts are excommunicated automatically for having committed them and the penalty is imposed not by a written decree after the fact, but by a written decree before the fact, that is, by this his special law for Papal Conclaves, Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG).

Indeed, as logic dictates, that if this were not the correct reading of the law, then the threat of an excommunication in UDG 81 would be nothing but a flourish of words, since it would have no effect and the guilty could get away with stealing a papal election by means of vote canvassing.  Clearly Pope John Paul II was not an idiot, who merely threatened a penalty which could only be imposed after the fact by the very individual elected uncanonically by the criminal violators of UDG 81!  To say such a thing would be an absurdity and calumny.

The Myths used to undermine a right understanding of the Law

Canon Peters, for his part, attempts a subtle shell game by replacing the word “imposed” by “formal”, when he writes (I quote from Fr. Z’s blog):

But that same cursory glance at Canon 1331 will not show (unless one is trained in canon law) that most consequences of excommunication become relevant in the external forum only if the excommunication is “imposed or declared”. That short, technical phrase means that, while one who is “automatically” excommunicated labors under the personal burdens of this sanction, it is only when an excommunication is “formal” that actions performed by canonical criminals raise questions for Church life and governance.

As I have shown, the penalty for violation of UDG 81 is already imposed by the promulgation of the papal law itself, on all future violators.  Thus the consequences of that penalty effect not only the liceity but the validity in law of all acts of those persons after the crimes committed. There is no distinction made in canon 1314 of formal and material excommunication. Canon Peters is attempting to alter the law by altering the terms, in a clever shell game.

Msgr. Athanasius, instead, attempts to argue, that since the former papal law explicitly allowed excommunicated electors to vote and be elected, the new papal law, while not explicitly saying such a thing — which is nonsensical in the new Code, if you think about it, since the new Code does not have the distinction between excommunication simplex and excommunication vitandis (simple excommunication of penalty and excommunion which excludes from the Church) — should be read and interpreted as if it did say such a thing.  Msgr.’s opinion is rejected by the noted Canonist, Jesus Minambres, which I reported upon here. The erroneous opinion of the Msgr., is also obviated by the careful consideration of what the new papal law does allow, the voting and election of all Cardinals, regardless of any reason or cause. Because in the CIC 1983, canon 171 prohibits not the voting of excommunicated electors, but the tallying of their votes.  Furthermore, since the College of Cardinals did prohibit de facto the Cardinal of Scotland from attending, because of the scandals he was involved in,  it is clear that their own understanding of whom the Papal Law allows to be prohibited from voting does not correspond to the wide reading the Mgsr. would have it read. Thus since neither the indulgence of UDG 81 can be said to cover excommunication, as the old law did, and since canon 171 does not conflict with it if it did, the argument of Msgr. Athanasius falls flat on its face as contra iurem and praeter rem.

For more on the effects of being formally excommunicated (canon 1331) by the violation of UDG 81, see my article of Dec. 12, 2014 A.D., The Monstrosity of the Allegations against “Team Bergoglio” = Cardinal Bergoglio is not the Pope.

The Monstrosity of the Allegations against “Team Bergoglio” = Cardinal Bergoglio is not the Pope

Rome, Dec. 12, 1014:  The monstrosity of the allegations made by Dr. Austen Ivereigh in his new book, The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a Radical Pope boggle the mind.  As this blog has noted in its previous report, the text of the narrative in chapter 9 of that book, implicates as many as 30 Cardinal electors in activity which seems likely to violate the papal law on Conclaves, Universi Dominici Gregis (here after UDG), promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

In that law, in paragraph 81, all forms of vote canvassing which include vote promising were punished with automatic excommunication (latae sententiae).  Yet canons 1329 and 1331 expand that penalty and indicate the consequences, even if the validity of the Conclave’s vote for Cardinal Bergoglio is not put in question by means of canon 171 §2, as this blog has speculated from the beginning. Let’s take a look then at these 2 canons.

The effects of Canon 1329: not only Cardinal Electors, but all accomplices

The From Rome blog has noted in its reports that the punishment was leveled only against Cardinals who could vote. However, the monstrosity of the allegation grows from the fact that Canon 1329 § 2 extends the effects of the penalty issued in UDG 81.

Canon 1329, § 2 reads, in the Latin:

Can. 1329§2. In poenam latae sententiae delicto adnexam incurrunt complices,qui in lege vel praecepto non nominantur, si sine eorum opera delictum patratum non esset, et poena sit talis naturae, ut ipsos afficere possit; secus poenis ferendae sententiae puniri possunt.

The official English translation of this, from the Vatican website is:

§2. Accomplices who are not named in a law or precept incur a latae sententiae penalty attached to a delict if without their assistance the delict would not have been committed, and the penalty is of such a nature that it can affect them; otherwise, they can be punished by ferendae sententiae penalties.

Thus, not only are the Cardinal Electors who sought vote-promises and those Cardinal Electors who promised votes in danger of excommunication from UDG 81, but also all those who assisted in this, such as:

  1. The aged Italian Cardinal, whom Ivereigh alleges tallied the votes, since without his assistance the conspiracy could not measure its success and by means of this count were encouraged to engage in the alleged illicit activities.
  2. A Cardinal-non-Elector, such as the alleged ring-leader, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, since in providing direction and organization for a conspiracy, the head of it assists in a manner in which the crimes could not have been committed as regards specific acts or their numerosity.  This is true even if the head of a conspiracy does not do the act which is criminalized.
  3. Any Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, or layman who assisted as messengers or solicitors between those asking for votes and those promising them.
  4.  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, inasmuch as if he knew of the conspiracy, could have prevented it by signifying his unwillingness to allow such a campaign to go forward, which he could have done by merely threatening to reveal it during the Conclave; for knowledge of a conspiracy from which one benefits along with omission of all acts sufficient to bring such a conspiracy to naught or gravely obstruct it, is complicity before or during the act.  And no such conspiracy could succeed, without such at least tacit consent, since every Cardinal Elector upon being asked for his vote, could have confirmed the consent of Cardinal Bergoglio to such a campaign by asking him personally and directly.  That the alleged campaign go forward, therefore argues that it had some sort of consent from the Cardinal.

This might explain why in both denials of Dr. Ivereigh’s narrative, the spokeswoman for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and the spokesman for the Holy Father, Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S. J., have explicitly denied that Cardinal Bergoglio was asked by any of the Cardinals for his consent to the vote-campaigning.

The enormity of this implication is seen when we apply the effects of Canon 1331.

Canon 1331 requires that an excommunicated Pope-elect never exercise or hold office

Canon 1331 explains the effects of all excommunications latae sententiae. In the official English version, from the Vatican website this canon reads:

Can. 1331 §1. An excommunicated person is forbidden:

  1. to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the sacrifice of the Eucharist or any other ceremonies of worship whatsoever;
  2. to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals and to receive the sacraments;
  3. to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever or to place acts of governance.

§ 2. If the excommunication has been imposed or declared, the offender:*

  1. who wishes to act against the prescript of §1, n. 1 must be prevented from doing so, or the liturgical action must be stopped unless a grave cause precludes this;
  2. invalidly places acts of governance which are illicit according to the norm of §1, n. 3;
  3. is forbidden to benefit from privileges previously granted;
  4. cannot acquire validly a dignity, office, or other function in the Church;
  5.  does not appropriate the benefits of a dignity, office, any function, or pension, which the offender has in the Church.

Which means, that if Dr. Ivereigh’s allegations are true, and if Cardinal Bergoglio had knowledge of the conspiracy and expressly or tacitly consented to it, then he would be incapable of holding the office of Pope, or making any acts which pertain to that office, such as nominate bishops, call Synods, or name Cardinals!

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* That penalties of excommunication which are leveled automatically (latae sententiae) by a general decree are imposed in the very act of the commission of the criminalized activity, can be had from canon 1314. Some canonists wish to restrict the term “imposed” [imponere] only to penalties leveled by a specific written decree naming the individual(s) — but that violates the signification of the Latin verb, which means “to place upon” (in the same sense as we say in English, “leveled”), not “declared or indicated in by a specific decree” — not to mention it also ignores the patent distinction made in canon 1314.  In any case, the Church could not endure such a situation, and the Sacred College of Cardinals in a special consistory would have the necessity, in virtue of the authority granted them in UDG 5, of resolving the matter and/or proceeding to a new election.

If Ivereigh is to be believed, was Bergoglio’s election invalid?

Denial

London, Nov. 25, 2014 — A remarkable letter to the editor, if ever there was one. A denial, which draws more attention, than the matter would otherwise merit.  In today’s Daily Telegraph Letter’s Page, print edition, Maggie Doherty, the press-secretary to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, denies a key fact in the reporting by Austen Ivereigh, a British journalist who just published a book exposing a concerted effort among Cardinals of the Roman Church to canvass for votes on behalf of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in the days prior to the Conclave of March 2013, which elected the latter as successor to Pope Benedict XVI.  The on-line edition of the Telegraph has a short story about this, by John Bingham, which opens thus:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis, a new biography claims.

The Election of Pope Francis has seen a great deal more publicity than any in modern times, especially concerning the remarkable novelty of revelations coming from Cardinals themselves — remarkable, since according to papal law, to make such revelations is punished by automatic excommunication!

The papal law is Universi Dominici Gregis, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on the Feats of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22, 1996 A.D..  The key paragraphs regarding this excommunication are as follows:

  1. Those who, in accordance with the prescriptions of No. 46 of the present Constitution, carry out any functions associated with the election, and who directly or indirectly could in any way violate secrecy — whether by words or writing, by signs or in any other way — are absolutely obliged to avoid this, lest they incur the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.
  2. In particular, the Cardinal electors are forbidden to reveal to any other person, directly or indirectly, information about the voting and about matters discussed or decided concerning the election of the Pope in the meetings of Cardinals, both before and during the time of the election. This obligation of secrecy also applies to the Cardinals who are not electors but who take part in the General Congregations in accordance with No. 7 of the present Constitution.

However, today’s denial regards another requirement of the papal law, regarding Conclaves: the express prohibition of canvassing for votes prior to the commencement of the Conclave.  John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution of 1996 makes that a high-crime, punishable by automatic excommunication.

  1. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.
  2. I likewise forbid the Cardinals before the election to enter into any stipulations, committing themselves of common accord to a certain course of action should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, I also declare null and void.
  3. With the same insistence shown by my Predecessors, I earnestly exhort the Cardinal electors not to allow themselves to be guided, in choosing the Pope, by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favour or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity. Rather, having before their eyes solely the glory of God and the good of the Church, and having prayed for divine assistance, they shall give their vote to the person, even outside the College of Cardinals, who in their judgment is most suited to govern the universal Church in a fruitful and beneficial way.

The Reason for the Press-Secretary’s Denial is now manifest

If Maggie Doherty had not gone to the lengths of issuing a denial in such language, I would never have taken notice.  But now that she has, having consulted the papal law on Conclaves, it appears manifest why she has.  If Austen Ivereigh’s book contains verifiable evidence that any of the Cardinals who voted for Jorge Mario Bergoglio canvassed for votes in the manner forbidden, especially if he tacitly consented to this, then by that very fact (ipso facto) they fell under the penalty of excommunication in the same moment they agreed to do such and/or did such. And, if Bergoglio tacitly agreed (that is, had knowledge, and consented without opposing what they were doing), then he, too, would have been excommunicated prior to the Conclave.

Does this mean that the Papal election was invalid?

But if what  Austen Ivereigh alleges, did happen, would the election of Pope Francis be null and void?  The grounds for this are entirely different from those alleged in Antonio Socci’s best-selling book in Italy, Non è Francesco, (He is not Francis: i.e. he should not be called Pope Francis), which is based on the fact that on March 13, 2013, Bergoglio was elected by 5 votes, when the papal law only allows 4. Or the challenge now being brought in the Petition to the College of Cardinals, which regards 3 canonical questions which arise from the violations of the penalties imposed by the Second Council of Nicea, the Council of Trent, and Pope Paul IV.

Let us take a look at the papal law, again.  It is very important to note, what Pope John Paul II says in the previous paragraph, n. 78:

78. If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae. At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.(23)

Paragraph 78, regards the buying or selling of votes; which does not seem what Ivereigh has alleged; for when votes are bought and sold, then the validity of the election which would otherwise be worthy of doubt or challenge, is, according to Pope John Paul II’s law, free from ever being so challenged (which he does with the words: “I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision”). Simony is the crime of buying or selling spiritual things, in this case, of votes, with the promise of monies paid in advance.

However, as regards, however, the excommunications leveled for canvassing, Pope John Paul II does not remove the nullity or invalidity of the election.

This leaves the question, whether the election of Pope Francis could be challenged now?

It seems at least possible, since it is not a question of the invalidity of an election on the basis of the fact that Cardinals were excommunicated on account of vote canvassing, but on account of a certain sort of coercion of the process to elect the Pope, which process must guarantee the liberty of the Cardinals to chose a Pope in a manner free from the deceits and maneuvers of worldly politics.

This doubt of the validity of the election is what seems to be implied by the Press-Secretary’s denial.  Because, if it were only a question of a Cardinal’s excommunication for violating secrecy or canvasing votes, he could easily appeal to Pope Francis to be pardoned and the excommunication lifted.  Indeed, what victorious candidate, now Pope, would not pardon the Cardinals who helped him get elected, if they did canvass for votes?  Thus, it certainly seems to the thoughtful reader, that there may be some more urgent reason for the denial. …  Cui prodest?

Addendum of Nov. 26, 3PM GT

I had a look at the general norms in the 1983 Code of Canon law regarding canonical elections and found some confirmatory information.  There in Canon 171, there are these stunning requirements for a valid election:

Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote:

1/ a person incapable of a human act;
2/ a person who lacks active voice;
3/ a person under a penalty of excommunication whether through a judicial sentence or through a decree by which a penalty is imposed or declared;
4/ a person who has defected notoriously from the communion of the Church.

§2. If one of the above is admitted, the person’s vote is null, but the election is valid unless it is evident that, with that vote subtracted, the one elected did not receive the required number of votes.

The importance of this Canon, I opine, is thus:  if what Ivereigh alleges in his book, is true, and the manner of canvassing votes is that penalized with automatic excommunication, then the Cardinals who did this, and Cardinal Bergoglio — if he expressly consented, as Ivereigh’s print edition says he did — would be excommunicated prior to the begining of the Conclave; and the election would be null and void, on the grounds that the 32 votes Bergolio received in the first round of voting (as reports allege, which votes are presumably nearly or mostly those who participated in the vote canvassing) would be null and void, coming as they did from excommunicated electors. That would make the 78 votes which Cardinal Bergoglio got in the final 5th vote, to be insufficient to elect him. (I am no canonist, so this is my opinion, though I have studied the tract on Canonical Censures at a Pontifical Instititute at Rome).

Postscript

Having carefully read the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, of Pope John Paul II, and that modification of Pope Benedict XVI, Normas nonnullas, I find it very curious that neither specifies explicitly who is eligible to be elected Pope. Even the 1983 code is silent. This is a serious deficiency, since the Bull of Pope Paul IV does specify this, and thus, if this matter is not included specifically in modern legislation, the terms of Pope Paul IV’s, Cum ex apostolatus officio, seem to remain in force. (If any canonists know, please leave a comment below, Thanks!).

FOLLOW UP REPORTS:

Nov. 27, 2014: Ivereigh + UDG 81 = A Radical Problem for Pope Francis

Bergoglio’s Past Catches up with him, with a vengeance

I have intently watched the Papacy of Pope Francis, from the first day of his election as Roman Pontiff.  Though I am a resident in Rome, I did not go to St. Peter’s square to see who would be elected, since I had a chest cold, and did not want to make it worse.

But, I confess to be one of the many who were enthused by his election, especially of his name selection, “Francis”, after the saintly founder of my Order, St. Francis of Assisi.  So much was my confidence, that I am among the first to write him a letter, which he received on the first day of his Petrine ministry, and which one of his secretaries confirmed by calling me — Though I never got a response to my request.

With the loud and clamorous and scandalous happenings at Synod 14, I became more certain that if there were anything about his background which was untoward, that some journalist would reveal it.  Indeed, from the first day of his election, the media have been exceedingly supportive of Bergoglio, and thus there have been almost no reports about his background, childhood, family, upbringing.

Today, on October 14, Sandro Magister, one of the leading Vaticanistas (that is, journalist who reports on Vatican affairs), published a very telling exposé of Pope Francis, with specific reference to the kind of pastoral practice he promoted at Buenas Aires as Archbishop.  You can read the official English translation of that article, here.

The really damning evidence is referred to in this paragraph of Magister’s report (Bold Facing and Coloring not in the original):

On communion for the divorced and remarried, it is already known how the pope thinks. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he authorized the “curas villeros,” the priests sent to the peripheries, to give communion to all, although four fifths of the couples were not even married. And as pope, by telephone or letter he is not afraid of encouraging some of the faithful who have remarried to receive communion without worrying about it, right away, even without those “penitential paths under the guidance of the diocesan bishop” projected by some at the synod, and without issuing any denials when the news of his actions comes out.

The entire affair is outrageously sacrilegious and offensive.  Because to put Our Lord, Who is truly, really, and substantially present in the Sacrament, into the hands or mouth of someone in mortal sin, is to crucify Him anew.  And to order such a thing done, is a horrendous monstrosity.

But, I am particularly troubled that Magister seems to have indicated, in the text I have highlighted in red, that this was done with the omission of any encouragement to attend confession, nay, with the apparent implication that omitting confession was encouraged.

This is particularly grievous, because such a doctrine and teaching such a practice was condemned by the infallible and Ecumenical Council of Trent, in its 13th session, and XI canon, which is found here, the text of which is:

CANON XI.-lf any one saith, that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. And for fear lest so great a sacrament may be received unworthily, and so unto death and condemnation, this holy Synod ordains and declares, that sacramental confession, when a confessor may be had, is of necessity to be made beforehand, by those whose conscience is burdened with mortal sin, how contrite even soever they may think themselves. But if any one shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.

I do not see how Bergoglio as Archbishop could habitually conduct such a practice in his Archdiocese if he did not teach or preach to his clergy at least, that such a practice was licit, allowed, or proper, all of which would have put him under the pain of excommunication from the day he first began to teach such an omission of penance before reception of communion by public sinners.

Obviously this needs to be investigated and the testimony of the faithful in the Archdiocese needs to be heard.

Also, experts in canon law need to be questioned, whether this excommunication imposed by Trent is latae sententiae or ferendae, that is, whether one falls immediately under this punishment when committing the act condemned, or whether the Pope would have to impose it.

This is important, because in the decree of Pope Paul IV, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, an Archbishop who was under the sentence of excommunication could not be validly named a Cardinal, and such a Cardinal could not be validly elected Pope (cf. in particular, n. 2, especially in its final paragraph; n. 6).

It is another, thornier question, whether a Pope saying that communion can be given to impenitent public sinners, without the requirement of confessing their sins and repenting, would be excommunicated by the excommunication handed down in Trent, Session 34, Canon XI.  If he has counseled this even over the telephone, then he would, according to the norms of canon law, certainly be subject to suspicion for its violation.  But the canon established by Trent regards discipline, the mere practice is not heretical, but makes one suspect of heresy, because if one were to do such, either he does not believe in the dogma of transubstantiation or he does not believe in the ecclesiological and theological necessity of faith and penance as prerequisites to receive a Sacrament, any of which is heretical.