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!



Boniface VIII’s Magisterial Teaching on Papal Renunciations

Translation and Commentary by Br. Alexis Bugnolo¹


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).



  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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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.

The Vatican Coup d’Etat of Feb. 2013


December 18, 2018 — A silent secret Coup d’Etat occured at the Vatican nearly 6 years ago, the facts of which case have only recently come to light.  The leading figures in the takeover were Cardinals Sodano and Bergoglio.  The former, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, charged with calling a Conclave in the event of the death or valid resignation of the Roman Pontiff; the Latter, the head of the Saint Gallen Mafia, which had plotted since 2004 to take over the Church and transform the Catholic Religion into a hollow mockery of the Gospel.

The coup d’etat was put in motion by the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign from active ministry on February, 11th, which he announced to the world in the Latin text, “Non solum propter”. (For the original text and English translation, see here).  The carefully worded text, based on the distinction put forward by Karl Rahner in 1974, in his work, Vorfragen zu einem okumenischen Amtsverstandnis, that one could retain the munus petrinum and share the ministerium petrinum, renounced the latter and explicitly affirmed the holding of the former.

This very obscure distinction in the Latin text allowed a coup d’etat, that is an unlawful take over of the Vatican. Because, according to the norm of Canon Law, the Cardinal Deacon was NOT empowered by the act of resignation to call a Conclave. Nay, he was obliged to confer with his Holiness as to the nature of the Vicar he wanted to appoint to govern the Vatican in his retirement, and ask direction on how the institution of the College of Cardinals could accomplish this, since the rules of a Conclave only regard the election of a successor not a Vicar sharing the active ministry.

No sooner had Pope Benedict XVI read his text, that Cardinal Sodano began to play up the event, by saying out-loud in Italian: “‘Holiness, this news catches us like a lightning bolt in a clear blue sky.’” (source)

Then the Italian journalist, Giovanna Chirri, a pool reporter for the Italian News Cooperative, ANSA, after attempting to speak with Cardinal Sodano by phone, following the consistory, and receiving the go ahead from Fr. Lombardi, ran the fake news story that the Pope had resigned his office.  She went to far in later reports to claim that she understands Latin perfectly, and that the renunciation was unequivocal!

Amazingly, Chirri announced this “news” via Twitter! Here is the historic tweet, upon which the entire Catholic world bases its idea that Benedict resigned the papacy!

However, the full responsibility and liability for the decision to call a Conclave to elect another Pope — during the lifetime of a Pope who only retired from active ministry, but did not resign his office — must be laid at the feet of Cardinal Sodano. That he was urged to this by the Saint Gallen Mafia may be supposed, but the evidence from the Law of the Church is indisputable.  As Canon 332 §2 reads in its official form, which in Latin — a Latin in which Cardinal Sodano is fluent, says:

CANON 332 § 2. Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur.

The law of the Church is clear: a pope resigns when he resigns his Munus (muneri suo renuntiet). And the validity of such a resignation arises from the act itself when it is conform with the norm of law (rite manifestetur) and is free.

The crime of Sodano consists in the pretense he made, based on the common translations of that Canon into modern languages, that you could renounce the office of the papacy without renouncing the petrine munus.

Obviously, canonically speaking, its impossible to demonstrate that a renunciation of ministerium is a due and proper manifestation of a renunciation of munus according to the norm of law, when the law itself says that papal resignations regard only the munus.*

Cardinal Sodano was of an age in which he could not vote in any further Conclaves, but by summoning a Conclave to elect another pope AND omitting a conference with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, he set in motion a revolution which resulted in Jorge Mario Bergoglio seizing control of the Vatican government and presenting himself to the world as the Vicar of Christ.

How many of the Cardinals who attended the Conclave of 2013 raised questions about this is not yet publicly known. However, its not a question of any form of secrecy to which they were or are bound, since if any of them noticed the sleight of hand of Sodano, he would have spoken about it before the Conclave began.

Today it is evident to the whole Catholic world that Bergoglio is an Anti-Pope in the sense that he has not the Faith of the Church and daily attacks the Faith. May God grant that Catholics everywhere read the Latin text of Canon 332 §2 to see that a renunciation of active ministry does not renounce the papal office, and that therefore the Conclave of 2013 was illicity convened and uncanonical, and that Bergoglio was never the Pope, never the Bishop of Rome, never the Successor of Saint Peter.



For further reading, I recommend:  How and Why the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 11, 2013 is invalid by the law itself.

* Can. 17 — Leges ecclesiasticae intellegendae sunt secundum propriam verborum significationem in textu et contextu consideratam; quae si dubia et obscura manserit, ad locos parallelos, si qui sint, ad legis finem ac circumstantias et ad mentem legislatoris est recurrendum.

Cardinal Sodano was obliged, by this canon, in the matter of any doubt concerning whether the act of Benedict XVI was valid per canon 322 §2, to look in the Code itself for the usage of ministerium and munus. However, in the Code there is no equation of these two terms. Not finding one, he would be obliged to look at the canonical history of the term munus in papal resignations, in which in previous resignations the word munus, not ministerium, has always been used. So he had no grounds to call a Conclave. (cf. Dos graves razones, by Juan Suárez Falcó, and Fr. Stefano Violi, The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience)