Benevacantism is scandalous and pointless

The theory that Benedict XVI is still pope, and so Francis is an antipope, has been a growing fad in some conservative Catholic circles. Here’s why it should both addressed and rejected.

Pope Francis visits with Pope Benedict XVI at the retired pope's residence after a consistory at the Vatican in this Nov. 28, 2020, file photo. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In his book The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies, David Stove observes that an argument once given by philosopher of science Imré Lakatos “manages to be scandalous and pointless at the same time” (p. 8).  He was referring to Lakatos’s having made use of certain historical examples, some of the details of which Lakatos admitted he had made up himself.  The idea is that, as bad as dishonest scholarship is, worse still is defeating the whole purpose by admitting that that is what you are doing.  I put aside for present purposes the question of whether Stove’s characterization of Lakatos was actually fair.  What I’m interested in here is the general idea of a position that is simultaneously scandalous and pointless.

I can’t help but think of Stove’s remark when I consider the growing fad in some conservative Catholic circles for “Benevacantism” – the theory that Benedict XVI is still pope, so that Francis is an antipope.  (The word is a portmanteau derived from “Benedict” and “sedevacantism.”  Which doesn’t really make much sense, given that the view does not claim that there is currently no pope, as sedevacantism does.  Some people prefer other labels, such as “resignationism” or “Beneplenism,” for reasons you can google if you’d like.)

You might think the view too silly to be worth commenting on.  But there are two reasons for doing so, namely that it is scandalous and that it is pointless.  It is scandalous insofar as those promoting it are leading Catholics into the grave sin of schism, i.e. refusing due submission to the Roman Pontiff, who (like it or not) is in fact Francis.  And while it is the view of only a small minority, some of them are influential.  I make no judgment here about the culpability of those drawn to this error, many of whom are well-meaning people understandably troubled by the state of the Church and the world.  But that it is an error, there can be no reasonable doubt.

That brings me to the other reason for commenting on Benevacantism, which is that it is pointless.  In particular, the view is incoherent, and indeed self-defeating, but in a way that seems to me to be philosophically interesting.  To see how, let’s begin by calling to mind the motivation people have for wanting Benevacantism to be true (as contrasted with the arguments they give for it – I’ll come to those in a moment).

It is not news that Pope Francis has, over the years, made a number of theologically problematic statements (about Holy Communion for those living in adulterous relationships, capital punishment, and other matters) and done a number of problematic things (such as reversing Benedict’s motu proprio on the Latin Mass).  I’ve addressed these controversies many times before and am not going to rehash it all here.  The point to emphasize for present purposes is that Benevacantists suppose that the problem posed by Francis’s questionable statements and actions can be dissolved if it were to turn out that Benedict is still pope.  For in that case, the problematic statements were not made by a true pope, so that there is no need to explain how a pope could commit such errors.

Now, one problem here is that this “solution” is simply unnecessary.  The Church has always acknowledged that popes can err when not speaking ex cathedra, and whatever else one thinks of Francis’s controversial statements and actions, they all would, if erroneous, fall into the category of possible papal error.  Francis may have said and done more theologically dubious things than the best-known popes of the past who have done so (such as Honorius and John XXII), but they are dubious statements and actions of the same basic kind.  The problem is extremely serious, but again, it’s within the boundaries of what the Church and her faithful theologians have always acknowledged could happen, consistent with the clearly defined conditions for papal teaching being infallible.  (I’ve addressed this issue in detail elsewhere, such as here and here.)

But that’s not primarily what I’m talking about when I say that Benevacantism is pointless.  To understand that we need to understand the arguments for the view.  In 2016, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, personal secretary to Benedict XVI, gave a now-famous speech wherein he said that the pope’s resignation had created an “expanded” Petrine office with two members, an “active” one and a “contemplative” one.  The Petrine “munus” – which can mean “ministry” or “service, duty, guide or gift” – is, the archbishop said, therefore something Benedict still participates in even after resigning.  Indeed, his acceptance of the office of the papacy in 2005 was “irrevocable.”  This, Gänswein said, is why it is appropriate that he retains his papal name, still wears papal white garments, and remains within the Vatican.

Given how close Gänswein is to Benedict, these remarks were widely understood to reflect the Pope Emeritus’s own views.  And it is completely unsurprising that they raised everyone’s eyebrows – and, as it happens, a few people’s hopes.  For they seem to imply that, despite his resignation, Benedict may in some sense think of himself as still holding the papal office, at least in part.  And this has given rise to at least two different versions of Benevacantism, which rest on two different theories about how the views conveyed by Gänswein purportedly cast doubt on the validity of Benedict’s resignation.  They go as follows:

Theory 1: Benedict didn’t really intend to resign.  According to this theory, Benedict distinguishes the munus of the papacy (in the sense of the office itself and its duties), from the ministerium or actual exercise of the powers of the office.  What Benedict renounced, according to this theory, is only the latter and not the former.  That is to say, he retains the munus of the papacy, but decided to turn the ministerium over to another, who ended up being Francis.  Francis, for this reason, is said by Gänswein to be the “active” member of this expanded papal office.  But Benedict, who now retains only a “contemplative” role, is still the one who in the strict sense holds the munus and thus the papacy.

Theory 2: Benedict did intend to resign, but failed.  According to this alternative theory, Benedict did indeed intend flatly to resign the papacy.  But since he holds the views reported by Gänswein, he did not succeed in validly doing so.  The reason is that the functions of the papal office simply cannot be divided in the way Benedict, according to the theory, supposes they can be.  Hence his resignation was predicated on a false understanding of what he was doing, and that invalidates it.  He is therefore still pope.

Now, I don’t think either of these theories is plausible for a moment.  But let’s pretend they were.  Would they solve the problem they are intended to solve – that is to say, the problem of having to deal with a genuine pope who says and does theologically highly problematic things?  Not in the least, which is why I say Benevacantism is pointless.

Suppose theory 1 were true.  Then Francis would be something like Benedict’s viceroy, acting on his behalf and with his authority.  His words and actions would have whatever authority they had precisely insofar as he acts in Benedict’s name, and in effect would therefore be Benedict’s words and actions, especially if Benedict did nothing to correct them.  (Call to mind here Aquinas’s teaching in Summa Theologiae II-II.182 that the active life “serves rather than commands” the contemplative, which is superior to it.  Hence, if the papacy really were divided into “contemplative” and “active” members, the latter would be the instrument of the former.)

Surely the difficulty here is obvious.  It would follow that Francis’s problematic words and actions too would, in effect, be Benedict’s problematic words and actions.  Hence this first version of Benevacantism would do nothing at all to solve the problem of how a pope could say and do the problematic things Francis has done.  It would merely relocate responsibility for these problematic words and actions from Francis to Benedict.  Indeed, it would make the situation worse, because you would not only have a pope who is ultimately responsible for the problematic words and actions in question, but one who also, on top of that, allows the faithful to be confused about who exactly the pope really is.  Benevacantists think of Benedict as a better pope than Francis, but in fact this first version of their theory would entail that he is a worse pope.

Suppose instead we went with theory 2.  This is hardly better; indeed, it may even be worse still.  For one thing, on this scenario too, Benedict does not turn out to be a better defender of orthodoxy than Francis is.  Rather, the theory would make him out to be such an incompetent and unreliable defender of orthodoxy that he would not even understand the nature of the papacy itselfwhich is supposed to be the ultimate bulwark of orthodoxy.  Indeed, he would be so incompetent and unreliable that he would not even know who the pope really is, and that it is precisely he himself who is still pope.  He would, in effect, be in schism from himself, and guilty of subordinating himself and the rest of the faithful to an antipope!

This would be a superior guardian of orthodoxy than Francis?  Seriously?

But it gets worse.  Suppose one of these two versions of Benevacantism were true.  What is the Church supposed to do?  Presumably, on the best case scenario, Benedict himself would publicly endorse some version of the theory.  But that would be a disaster.  If he endorsed theory 1, he would in effect be saying that he has silently allowed the Church to be gravely misled and misgoverned for almost a decade – that he has been pope all along but has failed to carry out his duties as pope, and done so on the basis of a novel theological theory that has no ground or precedent in the historical teaching of the Church.  Why, in that case, should any Catholic trust him or his magisterium ever again?  And of course, millions of Catholics would not trust him, nor would they accept this shocking claim, and would continue to recognize Francis as pope.  This would entail a schism unprecedented in Church history, with no clear means of resolution.

Suppose instead that Benedict came to endorse theory 2, and made an announcement to that effect: “Hey, listen up everyone, it turns out I am still pope after all!  No one is more surprised about this than I am, but there it is.  I hereby immediately resume my duties and command Francis to step aside.”  Why should anyone regard this judgment as any more sound than the earlier judgment he made to the effect that he was no longer pope?  In which case, again, why should any Catholic ever trust him or his magisterium again?  And here too, millions of Catholics would not accept this announcement, but would judge that he had gone crazy and continue to follow Francis.  Again, we’d be stuck with an unprecedented and irresolvable schism.

Or suppose – as, it goes without saying, is the far more likely scenario – that Benedict goes to his grave without endorsing any version of Benevacantism.  What then?  If he dies before Francis, how are we ever supposed to get a validly elected pope ever again, given that so many of the current cardinals have been appointed by Francis, whom Benevacantists claim to be an antipope?  We would be stuck with all the problems facing sedevacantism.  And things would hardly be any better if Francis dies before Benedict while Benedict continues to maintain that he is no longer pope.

To call Benevacantism half-baked would be too generous.  It is a complete theological mess.  It offers no solution whatsoever to the problems posed by Pope Francis’s controversial words and actions, and in fact makes things much worse.  And on top of that it leads Catholics into the grave sin of schism.  Hence, as I say, it is both scandalous and pointless at the same time.

It is also a non-starter even apart from all that, because there can be no reasonable doubt that Benedict validly resigned.  Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law tells us:

If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.

Now, Benedict publicly and freely resigned his office, and has publicly reaffirmed that his decision was taken freely, in answer to those who have speculated otherwise.  He has also explicitly acknowledged that there is only one pope and that it is Francis.  His resignation thus clearly meets the criteria for validity set out by canon law.  End of story.

Some have suggested that the resignation cannot have been made freely because, they say, it was done under the influence of an erroneous theory of the papacy, namely the one described by Gänswein.  But this is a non sequitur, as any Catholic should know who is familiar with the conditions for a sin to be mortal – grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent.  My point isn’t that Benedict’s resignation was sinful, but rather that these conditions illustrate the general point that the Church distinguishes acting with full knowledge and acting with deliberate consent or freely.  And canon law makes only the latter, and not the former, a condition for the validity of a papal resignation.  Hence, even if Benedict’s resignation was made under the influence of an erroneous theological theory about the papacy, that would be irrelevant to its having been made freely and thus validly.

Some will nevertheless insist that Benedict did not act freely, because they speculate that he was being blackmailed or otherwise acting in fear.  But he has publicly denied this, and after nine years no one has offered any evidence that it is true.  Note also that canon law says that it is not necessary that a resignation be “accepted by anyone” in order for it to be valid.  Hence neither Benedict nor anyone else is under any obligation to prove to the satisfaction of Benevacantists that his resignation was valid in order for it actually to be valid.

But what about the views reported by Gänswein?  If they really are Benedict’s, don’t they cast at least some doubt on his resignation?  No, not at all.  They are merely the personal opinions of a man who is now just a private theologian, who apparently believes that his novel office of “Pope Emeritus” is in some respects analogous to, and even inherits some of the dignity and functions of, the separate office of the papacy – an office he no longer holds, and which he has acknowledged he no longer holds.  One might accept his theory about the nature of the office of “Pope Emeritus” or reject it, but that is irrelevant to whether Benedict validly resigned.  And it remains irrelevant even if Benedict believed this theory prior to resigning, for then too it would have been nothing more than Benedict’s private theological opinion rather than an official teaching of the Church.

Francis, and Francis alone, is the pope.  You may lament this, but it is reality.  And the first step in dealing with some reality you don’t like is to face it, rather than retreating into fantasy.

(Editor’s note: This essay originally appeared on Dr. Feser’s blog in a slightly different form and is reprinted here with the author’s kind permission.)


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About Dr. Edward Feser 37 Articles
Edward Feser is the author of several books on philosophy and morality, including All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and Critical Race Theory (Ignatius Press, August 2022), and Five Proofs of the Existence of God and is co-author of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, both also published by Ignatius Press.

47 Comments

  1. Yes, Francis is pope.
    He is a terrible pope if you have an iota of respect for the Church history and traditions prior to 1962. There is clearly Peronist blood in his veins, still. So, yes, the Ste Gallen bishops were successful in their task. Benedict resigned and this former bar bouncer, patient of a Jewish psychiatrist is now the Bishop of Rome. Fantastic.

    • I am appalled and take great offense at the phrase “patient of a Jewish psychiatrist”. I am a Hebrew Catholic, a woman born of two Jewish parents who has chosen to be a practicing Catholic. What difference does it make if Pope Francis is the patient of a JEWISH psychiatrist? Please stop this overt, anti-Semitic rant – the church and the world have enough problems as it is. I believe this comment by Ranger01 should be removed from this forum for that reason.

      • This is not an anti-semitic remark. I believe it could be unwise for any Catholic to see a Jewish psychiatrist. If psychiatry has any value at all, it can only be found in the root meaning of “doctor of the soul.” Do we share the same view as Jews regarding what constitutes a healthy soul?

        • Of course, the Apostolic Catholic Church accused the Jews of Killing Christ. The Catholic Church instituted the Crusades and ignored Hitler’ Jewish Holocost. The Catholic Church refuses to ordain women as priests. The Catholic church pretends ordained priests are celibate when they practice homosexuality and child sexual abuse. The Catholic Church is the richest Corporation in the Universe that ignores poverty and fascism and is bathed in it’s Vatican riches and protection against legal reprisals for it’s manifest corruption. The Catholic Church advocates for more children in spite of world over-population and hunger and ungodly,insufferable miseries. The Catholic Church is an evil entity that has no moral standing. My observations after 16 years of Catholic education and an early life polluted by the deliberate lies of Catholicism. Show me the “God of Love” who doesn’t turn away from the miseries of the world. A “God of Love” who does not threaten eternal punishment.Tell me about a Catholic priest or a Pope who is chaste. Please tell me the Catholic Church is not rotted to it’s core.

          • Of course you do not really believe any of that nonsense, or you would not be on this Catholic site trying to salvage something of your crumbling world.

        • Possibly at issue is “Jewish” can mean different things. Many, perhaps most, Catholics who were born Jewish would say they retain at least Jewish ethnicity. I think this was true even before Vatican II. So “Jewish psychiatrist” could be upsetting as it could imply the ethnicity or lineage itself taints your ability to be a therapist.

          Now I do think it’s likely the person was specifically meaning a Jewish person who is not Catholic. (And perhaps more specifically is non-theistic as many of the great “Jewish psychiatrists” were not even religiously Jewish.) But even there an argument could be made that “Non-Christian” would suffice and to specify “Jewish” is too open to uncharitable interpretations.

        • Rick J., fortunately, it does not. I know many theologically informed Catholics, including priests and seminary professors in the mainstream (none are rad trads) who used to instinctively defend Pope Francis but have lost faith in him. He is a bad pope but a master at PR. We pray that he is merely a naive fool who is unable to recognize his hypocrisies, and not a Machiavellian schemer and charismatic demagogue.

    • I like Pope Francis and truly think that he is a Pope for our times. The people who are questioning his papacy are allowed to express an opinion; but, a pope is the vicar of our Lord on earth and should be held as such. I was born in the year 1945 and am fully aware of what the church was like at that time, and feel that God’s guidance brought Pope Francis to us.

    • Jew Bashing is evil. Kvetching over the ethnicity or religion of the psychiatrist is no better than anti-Catholics who haver over Hitler being born into a Catholic Family…

      It is vulgar, wicked, a sin against charity and truly bigoted. Granted that word gets tossed around willy nilly by so many people that it looses its meaning. Never the less that is no excuse for actual prejudice. I concur with Leslie remove this nonsense.

      BTW I have no problem with people saying Francis is a bad Pope as long as they recognize his is in fact the Pope.

    • You are entitled your opinion but there is no doubt that they are very problematic. He is an honest, faithful and well-informed disciple of Jesus.

  2. Thank you, Dr. Feser, for putting this canard to rest.

    You’re right, of course. It’s hard to address problems unless you’re prepared to acknowledge reality.

  3. Excellent topic for Holy Thursday!

    Sedevacantism Benevacantism, what we need now is something to describe High Priest Caiaphas, who was God’s equal in God authorized Church power to our Catholic Pope. High Priest Caiaphas ordered the Crucifixion of Jesus.

    Jesus tells His followers to do everything, Pope equivalent Church power, Caiaphas, Pharisees and Scribes, tell them to do because they sit in Moses seat, as Pope Francis sits in St. Peter’s chair. Then Jesus goes on to preach how evil God authorized Church leaders are in His day, Matthew 23. So, we need a ‘vaticanism’ title for Catholics who might believe that a legitimate modern day Pope is just as evil as God authorized Church leaders of Jesus’ day.

    Matthew 23:1 Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees.
    Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.

    Matthew 26:62 Jesus Before the Sanhedrin.
    The high priest rose and addressed him, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you:
    From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
    seated at the right hand of the Power’
    and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
    Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?” They said in reply, “He deserves to die!” Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy for us, Messiah: who is it that struck you?”

    Matthew 23:13 Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven* before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred?…

  4. For the record, I don’t subscribe to this erroneous view.

    The last pope to live in the Vatican according to – suppressed history – and canon law was Pope Pius XII. There is a true pope who is almost totally unrecognized and who is in exile.

    As it is, I have doubts about whether this will be approved.

  5. What is scandalous is that this situation exists at all. Its genesis is in the episcopate which appears to have abandoned the faith for a corporate model of power grabbing and imperial egoism. We are left to rely on what we have from our catechesis and the Catechism provided by John Paul…and that of Trent as well.
    I can no longer rely on any bishop or priest to support my journey in Christ. If I find a crumb of credence I’ll take it, but they provide no reliable sustenance or “accompaniment.” As for Rome? It is an impediment. There is no choice between Benedict or Francis. Benedict deserted his office and Francis occupied it with the aid of the nefarious. Nature abhors a vacuum — what else could have transpired?

    • Well said, I will be hanging on to my Catechisms of Trent and St. Pope John Paul 2 and no one will be able to pry them from my hands. Nor will I Ackowledge any other Chetechisms coming from this Synod.

  6. CWR should be commended for publishing this missile that should sink the Moskva of the anti-Pope Francis Catholics which sometimes badly found its way in various forms, like in readers comments, in this very website especially most recently in the aftermath of the Traditionis Custodes.

  7. You are not on target.
    It’s the 2013 conclave that needs to be investigated! If found improper ALL of your Theories are not needed. NO election took place!

  8. Francis is certainly pope, as was his predecessor. All his predecessors were bishops, and bishops as such can well resign and surrender their office to a successor. Why not the Bishop of Rome? Simple tradition, small-t, which can be changed for the good of the Church and of its people. Thank goodness for that.

    I’m not sure the election of Benedict XVI was necessarily a good thing in one way: he was the first church “celebrity” elected pope in the modern era. As such he had already attracted a strong following as well as a strain of opposition among Catholics. His papacy was a time of profound disappointment for many admirers and critics alike. Either he didn’t do enough, or he did too much of the wrong thing. And clearly he lacked the awareness and will to deal with moral scandal. He was better than his predecessor, but not good enough.

    And so for many Catholics, possibly especially a group of conservative believers, the papacy has become a political organ. When people like his words and actions, they support. When they don’t, they blame someone or some thing. It’s a cafeteria Catholicism that comes back to slap those who complained about that meme in people they disagreed with 1965-2013.

    Pope Francis is particularly bothersome to many Catholics because he pokes at the pharisee aspect in the Church. They are stung. But some are too wrapped up in political trappings and those modernisms of conspiracy theories and suspicions to recognize it. It’s Luke 15:28-32 for a group of people who haven’t gotten past the loose women and dissolute living.

    • “And clearly he lacked the awareness and will to deal with moral scandal.”

      Clearly? Wait, is this like asserting, as you have, that CWR is sometimes obsessed with sex? And then refusing to back it up?

      Benedict was aware and he did more than John Paul II or Francis to address the problem. Francis has simply been dreadful when it comes to clerical sex abuse.

      “he was the first church ‘celebrity’ elected pope in the modern era.”

      What does that even mean? In fact, Ratzinger was widely despised by the secular Western media and by many within the Church. That was clearly the case (using “clearly” in the correct sense).

      • “Francis has simply been dreadful when it comes to clerical sex abuse.”

        Well, no. He was the first of three popes to listen to the whispers about Ted McCarrick and get him laicized. He’s been willing to have bishops active in investigating wrong-doing in the episcopacy. Granted, he’s been slow to accept a few of his brother bishops as ethically challenged. He’s alienated lay people appointed to commissions. His two predecessors were certainly no better. But PF has shown a willingness to move and change when the inevitable confronts him. Expectations have been high as a result, and he’s disappointed many of us on that score.

        “What does that even mean?”

        He was well known across Catholic circles and even outside of it. Whether people loved him or disliked him, it doesn’t matter. By any definition, he was a celebrity: name recognition, author of books and CDF pronouncements, involved in the workings of many dioceses around the world.

        I don’t know if a poll was ever taken anywhere, but ask a Catholic from the mid-1980s to 2005 to name one cardinal or bishop other than her or his own or the pope, and Cardinal Ratzinger was a likely answer for people in church circles.

        That PF is a great pope, or a terrible one, or a backtracking one, or a “confusing” one–it’s all irrelevant. He will be pope until he dies or resigns. And then someone else will be elected. Benevacantism is a silly approach to being Catholic. It shows the worst of American modernism and the indulgence for gnosticism.

        At least among US Catholics, it’s too bad so much of the political is now attached to the one who sits in the Chair of Peter. Thanks for engaging and have a blessed Easter, Carl.

        • Todd Flowerday: Let’s keep the record straight. Olson is absolutely correct in his assertion “Benedict was aware and he did more than John Paul II or Francis to address the problem. Francis has simply been dreadful when it comes to clerical sex abuse.” Your citation of Pope Francis in the McCarrick endgame ignores several crucial facts. Pope Benedict XVI tried to rein in McCarrick with several measures albeit done discretely. But not only did prelates like Cdl. Wuerl shield and continue to enable McCarrick but also McCarrick even flouted the pontiff’s restrictions. Then when Pope Francis succeeded Pope Benedict XVI, he restored McCarrick AND entrusted secretive China policy missions to that monster, who, with the worldly & corrupt Cardinal Parolin, betrayed the Church in China (over and against objections of Cardinal Zen, whom Pope Francis marginalized). Pope Francis sacked McCarrick only after the scandalous behavior became too big to contain and the public outcry was too massive. Then, what did Pope Francis do? When Cardinal Wuerl was basically ousted by his own presbyterate for his role in the McCarrick cover-up, Pope Francis kept Wuerl on as Apostolic Administrator while taking his time to pick and then install as Archbishop of D.C. a replacement from Cardinal Cupich’s heterodox Paradigm Shift Tour. Then to put a cherry top of on the cake for Hell’s Bakery, Pope Francis made Cdl. Wuerl one of the two American representatives on the Congregation of Bishops (which is responsible for vetting episcopal appointments for the pope)–alongside Cardinal Cupich, who sabotaged Cardinal DiNardo’s attempts at Episcopal accountability in clerical sex abuse cases (USSCB, November 2018) and pushed through a Metropolitan Plan for investigating bishops guaranteed to interfere with objectivity. And that’s only a fraction of the litany of shame from Pope Francis’ wrecking ball papacy.

          • Parolin was, for years handling the China negotiations for the Vatican. The document was drafted during Pope Benedict’s time and it was scheduled to be signed in 2018. Vigano saw McCarrick leaving for China and jumped to the conclusion, erroneously, that he had something to do with the negotiations. As soon as it was brought to the attention of Pope Francis that a child was involved in the scandal, he got rid of the Cardinal.
            I agree with Todd, that Pope Francis has done more to stop this abuse than any other Pope. Pope Benedict did do a lot as well, but even the secular world, with greater resources, cannot do better.

      • Good point. When people are just recycling the same points and arguments, their thinking reflects more on their ideological commitments than on their thoughtful analysis.

        • Sure? Jesus kept going on the same points over and over too: the Kingdom of God, personal holiness. It annoyed the crap out of his opponents. They tried to make it about him too: you eat with sinners, you’re only a workingman’s son, you came from Nazareth.

          When people here begin to make it personal about me, it shows their arguments have been spent. Why not just keep focused on the silliness of benevacantism? We all agree on that, at least the Catholics among us, right?

  9. This theory of benevcantism strikes me as parallel to the notion shouted by Americans who claim that D. Trump won the election and is therefore the rightful president; and that President Biden is in office only because of a corrupt election system. If I had to, I would guess that those who believe in benvacantism are also who hold that notion about Trump. In both we see people unwilling to accept rightful processes of long standing because they don’t like the outcomes.

    • You mean like every democrat, and all of the Mainstream Media who excused , Trump of stealing the Election from Hillary and acussing him of Russian Collusion?~ and Bullying him through out His Preisdency,Holding False Accusations to Impeach him, not once but Twice? Boy if that isn’t calling the Kettle Black~

    • Yes, it is amazing, from outside of USA, to see how much the Devil’s emotions of fear, crisis and panic has infected our American brothers and sisters. And how, in this perpetual panic, gullible people will say the most bogus rubbish and eccentric theories. Hint: if 99% of people who hear a theory think it is nuts, it probably is nuts.

      But it is not so amazing, perhaps, to see the “protestantization” of so many US Catholics: each becoming an expert under their own hat in church history, ecclesiology and theology, enough to judge the Pope. “Cafetetia Catholicism” is no longer exclusively a problem of liberal Catholics.

      I recommend that as soon as we read any media item that talks of a crisis in the Church, we just turn it off and say a little prayer instead. Ukraine: that is a crisis. Bells and smells: that is not a crisis. Whatever is good, true, rigjt, pure, lovely, admirable, excelkent, praisewirthy: lets discipline ourselves to think of those things, as St Paul pleads with us to do…even about Pope Francus.

  10. Do you acknowledge the changing of election laws in battleground states in real time in the 2020 election? Or, the very
    improbable statistical analysis of four states crucial to Biden’s victory?

    Were you of the same mind when Trump was elected in 2016 and the Hillary Democrats were much more vocal
    and activist in claiming Trump was not validly elected?

    Biden may have won the election fairly. Since no suits were allowed on the merits, one cannot say for certain either way.

    • No, and no. Mr Trump lost the 2020 election for one reason only: he blundered the opportunity to manage the pandemic, and it swung enough voters against him.

      There were no suits that merited attention. It’s sheer wishful thinking to believe there were. A handful of states swung the 2016 and 2020 elections. That’s the way it is.

      • Right,and years of propaganda-type accusations against Trump which have all been proven FALSE,that had no bearing on the election? Really? As well as impeachment proceedings based on those fake accusations, plus a compromised partisan media, had NOTHING to do with the election?? And I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. By the way, since court after court REFUSED to take the cases protesting fraud in the election, it is NOT a settled case that no cheating occurred in that election. The evidence was never heard. Not by a long shot. The pieces are all there for it to happen again, as Democrats spread the false narrative that asking ALL voters, irrespective of color or religion, to produce ID in order to vote, somehow is suppression of the black vote. They have enough credulous nimrods in the judiciary to back them up, sadly. And as they run to Gerrymander the districts to make us a one party nation, like, um, Russia?? China?? Oh yes, multiple mail in ballots sent to the same person, unsecured ballot collection boxes, bundling the collection of votes, “helping” incompetent elderly in nursing homes fill out their voter forms…yeah, no chance for cheating there, right?? If you want the same violence, economic dislocation, inflation, and terrorists flowing over our Southern border, to continue, keep voting democrat.

  11. I am surprised that any Catholic site would play any role in allowing people who distrust Francis to say anything at all. Our society has been pretty rigorous about canceling out people who don’t tote the leftist line. So I commend this site.

    • Sadly, this practice also happens in some rightwing trad Catholic sites. For many years, my posts were accepted by the editors of the sites I refer to but, with the growing influence of the Vatican 2 haters, their attitudes began to change. One site, then another, and then another banned me from submitting posts because I defended today’s Church and Pope Francis.

  12. More gallons of ink spilt to distract the faithful from the heart of Jesus’s message in Matthew 22:37-40: “And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

    • God knows who is really the holder of the Papal Office. He allows these difficulties perhaps to test our Faith in His Son’s gift of salvation to us. We know that we have had good Popes and bad Popes, but not one of them has taught that the Dogmas are not true.

      Think of how much time for communing with our Father has been and is being used with the arguments concerning munus and ministerium. I have done the same. Hours upon hours have been spent. Pope Benedict is able to speak up with complete clarity at any time. Will anyone who is close to him, ask him to do so?

      Most of us see the errors of Pope Francis … pachamama ….. same sex nativity scene …. telling a mother it is all right that her child believes she is really a boy …. and much more…. orders parishes to make room for non-practicing LGBT in parishes instead of freeing them from the counterfeit they are living into the fullness of heterosexuality in which they were created.

      God will and is working with him concerning it all … our prayers are that Pope Francis corrects his errors before he is called from this life.

      God bless, C-Marie

      • Catholics all over the world know who the Pope of the Catholic Church is. Even the Pope Emeritus knows – and lovingly, respectfully acknowledges him. Pope Francis.

  13. Interesting that this article fails to mention the names of the high ranking clergy and bishops who do believe it is necessary to investigate Benedict’s resignation because the truth matters, no matter what the implications may be. Bishop Gracida, Archbishop Lenga, Archbishop Vigano, etc. As renowned Vatican theologian Monsignor Nicola Bux pointed out about three years ago, the problem of Francis’s pontificate could be solved by an investigation into Benedict’s attempt to bifurcate the papacy. And it is misleading for this article to say that there would be no Cardinals left to elect a valid pope if Francis was not a true pope. That is balderdash. There are many Cardinals who were appointed by Benedict who could hold a conclave. And biased motives could just as easily be attributed to those who stubbornly hold that it is impossible for Benedict’s resignation to be invalid. You also fail to mention in your article that canonists such as Estefania Acosta have thoroughly examined Benedict’s declaratio and have come to conclusion that Benedict is indeed the one true pope.

    • I appreciate your dedication to the pope emeritus. But he resigned his office and retired. I don’t understand the need for “investigation.” I might be interested to see what canons he violated in 2013, but the fact is, lawful or not, he hasn’t acted as pope in nine years. The world’s cardinals elected someone else, according to the lawful prescriptions of the Church.

      Why not just admit there’s nothing else to see? B16 isn’t the pope. PF is. Maybe some people will like the next pope better. It all seems like an indulgence of the cult of celebrity/anti-celebrity to hang onto popes we like or vilify the ones we don’t. It’s pointless.

    • It is about time we stop giving conspiracy theorists space to publish their stuff. Pope Benedict XVI resigned and he clearly told us why he did. He acknowledged Pope Francis as the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Here is an extract from an article in catholic voices:
      On 28 June 2016 to mark the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination, the Pope Emeritus explicitly thanked and praised POPE FRANCIS, in terms he would later echo in striking fashion, and highlighted the importance of Francis’ emphasis on God’s mercy: ‘Thank you above all to you, Holy Father: your goodness, from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, strikes me, and truly brings me, in an inner sense, more than in the Vatican Gardens, with their beauty, your goodness is the place where I live: I feel protected. Thank you also for your words of thanks, for everything. And let us hope that you will be able to continue with all of us on this path of Divine Mercy, showing the way of Jesus, to Jesus, to God.’
      In an essay written to honour Cardinal Gerhard Müller, wrote: ‘You defended the clear traditions of the Faith, but in the spirit of POPE FRANCIS you also sought to understand how they can be lived today.’
      After reflecting on the clerical abuse scandal, Pope Emeritus said: At the end of my reflection I would like to thank POPE FRANCIS for everything he does to show us, again and again, the light of God, which has not disappeared, even today. Thank you, Holy Father!’
      https://www.catholicvoices.org.uk/blog/benedict-on-francis

  14. Please don’t take my word for anything but do your own due Diligence and research. It was st. Ignatuous Layola, Who taveled from Rome to the Holyland converting Jews to Christianity,He siply wanted to be known as a pilgram. He also wanted his own order of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, He was granted his request but only if he signed a decree that no one from the Jesuit order could be elevated to the Hierachy, He signed the decree and that never has changed. research this for yourselves, don’t take my word for it, but that decree still stands.

    • The Jesuits are bound to follow their current Constitutions. Which allows a member of the Society to be given permission by their superior (or the Pope) to take up an office.

      For example, Loyola gave his permission for three Jesuits to be made Biships.

      As I understand it, once made a Bishop (or Cardinal, or Pope), a Jesuit is no longer formally bound by the Jesuit Constititions. They cannot be active members of the Society, as they have to be independent to fulfil their office.

  15. I used to think it was bad to call Francis a bad Pope. But saying he is not the legitimate Pope is so so much worst. The former may be just criticism or unjust and or prudent or imprudent but the later is an act of faithlessness.

    What do the Sedes and Benny-Sede’s do with Matt 16:18 I wonder? So Jesus was lying?

  16. Too many false accusations in your post to bother answering. But if you really WANT truth, and answers, they are out there . You wont have to dig very hard to find them. As to what has made you hate the church to this degree, you dont explain, but your hatred comes through in every line. The Catholic church has no monopoly on bad actors within its ranks. Any institution of this size will have some rotten members. But they do not represent the church as a whole. Going back to the crusades a thousand years is something of a stretch too. Good and evil do exist, and God is not Santa Claus to OK everything, often evil things, that people wish to do. “Do your own thing” is not a religion. It is narcissism. There are some moral absolutes which God expects from his followers. If this distorted view you portray is your take-away from 16 years of Catholic schooling, you were either taught badly, or chose to learn nothing of the truth. In either case, you have been cheated of what could be source of great happiness in your life. It doesnt have to be this way. If you want to be happy and have your soul thrive, you will have to admit to the truth and let the hate go. I am sure many of us here will pray for you.

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