Well, it’s been quite interesting the past few days as reaction rolled in about the MORAL CERTAINTY that Pope Benedict failed, by reason of Substantial Error as anticipated by Canon 188, in his attempt to partially resign the papacy.
I deleted 98% of the online comments, because I don’t have time to moderate/reply to all those, and much of it was such total nonsense that it made my head hurt. So what I thought I would do is present the most common misperceptions about what I presented and concluded, and what it all means. It might get a little harsh.
- “But but but there CAN’T be two popes. There can only be one pope. So if Benedict is pope then we have two popes.” Do you imagine you are arguing against my position with this? Of course there cannot be two “supreme” pontiffs, nor can there be two men each occupying different roles within an “expanded Petrine ministry”. You don’t need to send me links to articles explaining this, I linked to an older blog post that already explained it. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, perfect and immutable, divinely instituted the papacy perfectly and immutably. No man, not even a pope, can alter the intrinsic nature of the papacy. Benedict’s attempt to do just this was one of the most egregious acts of hubris in the history of mankind.
- “You just like Benedict better because of his orthodoxy and Summorum Pontificum and fancy vestments and and and.” Again, the question of who is the “better pope” has ZERO impact on the reality of who “is pope.” Benedict being viewed as better, based solely on the fact that he’s not a full blown Marxist heretic intentionally leading souls to Hell on a daily basis, is true as far as it goes. But it’s also true that Benedict is a Modernist through and through, which ultimately makes him part of the problem, not part of the solution. Thinking at one point that he was part of the solution was a mistake made by many, myself included, who thought there was a way forward if only Vatican II was “properly implemented”. Not gonna happen.
- “You just like Benedict better so you’re making stuff up so that Benedict can be pope again.” Right. I am such an intellectually dishonest person, that I would knowingly advance a grave falsehood in order to mislead the faithful to make myself feel better.
- “Must you really drone on with all this legalistic mumbo jumbo?” You’ve been spending too much time on twitter if anything longer than 140 characters seems like mumbo jumbo to you. Go back and read it again, and then try to dispute the structured thought and evidence-based conclusion. I’m all ears, but please bring facts. Arguing from emotionalism, the epidemic of the day, only shows that you think reality is influenced by your feelings.
- “But if this is true, and Benedict is the sole Roman Pontiff, what happens next? What if Benedict dies before Francis? What if Francis dies before Benedict? How will we ever get back to apostolic succession? You turned Sede!”
Can we please focus on the evidence? We can’t know the future, nor does it have any bearing on determining the situation at hand. I have no idea what happens next. Dwelling on the implications is a distraction from studying the evidence. None of this has anything to do with the moral certainty that Pope Benedict is still reigning as the sole Roman Pontiff. The only thing that matters are the OBSERVABLE FACTS, which when viewed objectively are the best lens on REALITY.
The beautiful thing about being Catholic is never having to be afraid of the truth. Catholicism is the central truth of the universe. Wherever our current conundrum leads, we rely above all on Christ’s promise to the Church. Divinely instituted as the Bride of Christ, upon which the gates of Hell will not prevail, She teaches us to place all our concerns at the foot of the Cross. What have we to worry in sight of so great a sacrifice?