Fr. Kramer Refutes Modernist George Weigel
The "Conservatives" are still Modernists folks...
Gänswein and Violi are right. Weigel and all who agree with him are wrong. Pope Benedict XVI did not resign the Petrine office. Benedict's own words express this beyond all shadow of doubt.
George Weigel's words illustrate the futility of arguing against reason. Weigel says, " A papal abdication, no matter what the circumstances, involves renouncing the Office of Peter, not re-conceptualizing it." The proposition is entirely correct, but Weigel's (and a multitude of nominal Catholics) belief that Benedict XVI "abdicated" the petrine office is a fallacious a priori assumption based on an uncritical reading of Benedict's act of renunciation.
The text of Benedict's 11/02/2013 Declaratio has been systematically analyzed by Canon Law professor Stefano Violi, in his article published in the Theological Journal of Lugano (Rivista teologica di Lugano), The Re unciation of Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience
[Theological Faculty of Emilia Romagna – Faculty of Theology (Lugano).]
Violi demonstrates by strict application of the rules of logic and principles of law that Benedict expressed his intention to renounce only the active exercise of the petrine ministry, but not the papal office. Weigel's responds to those who refuse to be swayed by the uncritical and logically flawed arguments which erroneously assume a priori that Benedict "resigned" from the office, by personally berating them with gratuitous ad hominems and blindly rejecting their position without the slightest attempt at refutation.
Prof. Violi explains in his article, "On 11 February 2013, Benedict XVI declared his renunciation not of the office, but of its administration. The limited renunciation of the active exercise of the munus constitutes the absolute novelty of the renunciation of Benedict XVI". By renouncing only the exercise of the munus, but not the office itself, Benedict did not vacate the office, but remained in office as pope and Vicar of Christ. (cf. The Resignation of Benedict XVI
Between History, Law and Conscience -- Professor Stefano Violi http://www.fatima.org/news/newsviews/newsviews031315.pdf; http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350913)
In order to understand exactly what Benedict's intention was in his act of renunciation, it is necessary to critically examine his words and determine the moral object of that act; since the object of the act specifies precisely the essence of the act. Prof. Violi has meticulously and expertly carried out such a critical analysis of Benedict's words.
In his act of renunciation Benedict XVI specified precisely what he intended to renounce -- and what he renounced was the "active exercise of the petrine ministry". Such an intention as that does not suffice to vacate the papal office. The fact that he voluntarily took the name 'Pope Emeritus' and made his submission to the infidel Bergoglio does not change the fact that his renunciation was null & void for reason of defect of intention.
"La mia decisione di rinunciare all’esercizio attivo del ministero, non revoca questo."
These are Pope Benedict's own words by which he explicitly specified the object of the act of renunciation as a "decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry". THAT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A RENUNCIATION OF THE OFFICE.
Benedict XVI states explicitly that the gravity his decision to accept the papacy consisted in the fact that he was thereby engaged in a commitment, received from Christ, which is "for always", and his "decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this." Thus, Benedict did not renounce the Petrine office or its ministry, but only the active exercise of the ministry. He then goes on to say that he will no longer wield the power of office, but will remain "within the enclosure of St. Peter": " Non porto più la potestà dell’officio per il governo della Chiesa, ma nel servizio della preghiera resto, per così dire, nel recinto di san Pietro. San Benedetto, il cui nome porto da Papa, mi sarà di grande esempio in questo. Egli ci ha mostrato la via per una vita, che, attiva o passiva, appartiene totalmente all’opera di Dio." ("I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God.")
Hence, the intention expressed by Pope Benedict is to remain in the Petrine office and retain the passive aspect of its official service (munus), i.e. "the service of prayer"; and to hand over the active aspect of the munus, i.e. exercise of governance, to a successor, who will effectively fulfill the function of a coadjutor with power of jurisdiction. Thus, Benedict's clearly expressed intention was not to abdicate the office, but only to vacate the cathedra in the qualified sense of handing the seat of power of governance to one who will succeed him in the active governance, but not abdicating from the office itself. This solves the apparent mystery and explains why Benedict XVI refused to revert to being Cardinal Ratzinger; and why he retains his papal coat of arms and papal attire.
In his Declaration of Feb. 11, 2013, Pope Benedict states as the reason for his decision his waning energy and consequent inability to administer the official duties of the papacy due to advanced age: Conscientia mea iterum atque iterum coram Deo explorata ad cognitionem certam perveni vires meas ingravescente aetate non iam aptas esse ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum.
However, he states his awareness of the spiritual nature of the official service, the munus of the petrine office; namely, it is not merely active and verbal, but is to be fulfilled to no lesser degree by praying and suffering: Bene conscius sum hoc munus secundum suam essentiam spiritualem non solum agendo et loquendo exsequi debere, sed non minus patiendo et orando. It is this passive function of the office that he expressly stated was his intention to retain in his above cited discourse of 27 Feb. 2013.
It was only the active service, the execution of the ministery regarding grave affairs of the Church and proclaiming the gospel, which he said he could no longer adequately perform: Attamen in mundo nostri temporis rapidis mutationibus subiecto et quaestionibus magni ponderis pro vita fidei perturbato ad navem Sancti Petri gubernandam et ad annuntiandum Evangelium etiam vigor quidam corporis et animae necessarius est, qui ultimis mensibus in me modo tali minuitur, ut incapacitatem meam ad ministerium mihi commissum bene administrandum agnoscere debeam.
Therefore, in the next sentence he declares his intention to renounce that ministry: Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commisso renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.
Thus, based on a strict analysis of Benedict's words, Prof. Violi concludes, "On 11 February 2013, Benedict XVI declared his renunciation not of the office, but of its administration. The limited renumciation of the active exercise of the munus constitutes the absolute novelty of the renunciation of Benedict XVI".
[From the "Theological Journal of Lugano"XVIII 2/2013. The author is a priest of the diocese of Modena who teaches Canon Law in the Theological Faculty if Emilia Romagna, and in the Faculty of Theology of Lugano. Dalla "Rivista Teologica di Lugano" XVIII, 2 / 2013. L'autore è sacerdote della diocesi di Modena e insegna diritto canonico nella Facoltà Teologica dell'Emilia Romagna e nella Facoltà di Teologia di Lugano.]
The recent statements of Archbishop Georg Gänswein explicitly confirm that it was Benedict's intention to not to resign the office but to "broaden" it -- not to step down, but to "step aside" and make room for a collaborator with whom the papal munus would be shared. About this there can no longer be any doubt. The proposition that Benedict abdicated the office and thereby fully relinquished the munus of the petrine office explicitly contradicts Benedict's own words by which he expressly stated his intention to retain the passive exercise of the petrine munus.
Benedict's judgment that his decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry would result in vacating the See of Rome is is flawed in its logic, being based on a fallacious premise, to wit, that the chair can be vacated by a pontiff who explicitly states in his act of renunciation, his intention to retain a partial exercise of the petrine munus; thereby expressing his will not to entirely relinquish the munus of office. By explicitly stating his intention to partially retain the munus of office, Benedict's act is thereby rendered null & void due to defect of intention; hence, his statement that his renunciation of the ministry was valid, is plainly erroneous.
Mons. Gänswein is the personal secretary of Pope Benedict and his spokesman. He is only restating in the vernacular that which Pope Benedict already stated in terse canonical Latin on 11 Feb 2013, and reiterated in his final public audience on 27 Feb 2013.
Absolutely none of Weigel's comments addresses the essential point made by Violi, Socci, and myself that Benedict XVI in his renunciation stated explicitly his intention to partially retain the official petrine munus. This plainly stated intention renders the act of renunciation null & void, since the See is not vacated unless the pope fully relinquishes the petrine munus.
Furthermore, Benedict's claim made in his act of renunciation, that his renunciation of the petrine ministry will vacate the Chair and necessitate the election of a successor is logically inconsistent; and stands in irreconcilable opposition to his statement in the same document expressing his intention to retain the passive exercise of the munus; and his subsequent explicit affirmation that, "My decision to renounce the active ministry does not revoke this."
These opposing statements constitute a fatal equivocation in the act of renunciation which renders the act null & void. In order that an act have the juridical force of law, in must unequivocally state that which it intends to be the juridical effect of the act. If it makes statements that stand in logical opposition regarding the intended juridical effect of the act; it's meaning becomes irremediably unintelligible, and therefore doubtful -- and as such, incapable of having the force of law: Lex dubia lex nulla.
What is absolutely certain, however, is that Pope Benedict did not resign the petrine office. What Benedict did attempt, was the theological impossibility of dividing the exercise of the indivisible petrine munus between two men. Both Archbishop Gänswein and Prof. Violi have grasped perfectly what was actually Pope Benedict's stated intention, but hardly anyone else has attempted to gain a precise understanding of the specific nature of the act by analyzing the text of the Declaratio, and determining its moral object.
Violi has stated it plainly:
"Benedict XVI divested himself of all the power of government and command inherent in his office, without however, abandoning his service to the Church: this continues through the exercise of the spiritual dimension of the pontifical munus entrusted to him. This he did not intend renouncing. He renounced not his duties, which are, irrevocable, but the concrete execution of them."
Since such an act is patently contrary to the divine constitution of the Church, which defined the singularity of the petrine office in Pastor Æternus; the renunciation of Pope Benedict can be judged invalid with absolute certitude.
George Weigel, Modernist liberal