Repost plus a bonus: “In theory, the Petrine function could be performed either by a single individual presiding over the whole Church, or by some kind of committee, board, synod or parliament – possibly with a ‘division of powers’ into judicial, legislative, administrative, and the like”

The headline quote, from American Cardinal Dulles, is from 1955. So we know for a fact that the idea of an “expanded petrine ministry,” as glowingly described by Abp Ganswein in his speech at the the Gregorianum, is at least 63 years old. We also know that the Germans ran with this idea, led by Rahner, Kung, Neumann, and yes, Ratzinger. HERE.

So Pope Benedict did NOT dream up the idea of a papal diarchy in 2012-2013. Nope. Instead, he was part of an a elite team of theologians who came up with it and developed it. Each of them had particular slant on it, if you will. While we don’t know when or if he adopted the position prior to 2013, and while I’ve not found any direct evidence he pronounced it in the 50s or 60s, the evidence is now irrefutable that the concept itself had been in his head for over half a century. Irrefutable.

It’s important to understand the false premise which is necessary to arrive at such bad theology. At the time, there was a strong undercurrent, described in Abp Miller’s book, where the ontology of divine structures was called into question. Specifically, the question was this: Can structures within the Church change to meet the changing needs of the faithful, even if said structures were directly divinely instituted, either by God the Father or by Christ.  And yes, this would include structures as important as the papacy itself. A further question was whether the structures could merely be changed, or could they be entirely eliminated… as part of an ecumenical effort to overcome this massive stumbling block of our “separated brethren.”

Said another way, these men were proposing the God of Surprises. There is always the possibility (sarcasm) that the Third Person of the Holy Trinity might swoop down and abrogate or alter things, EVEN THINGS THAT WERE DIRECTLY INSTITUTED BY THE FIRST OR SECOND PERSON OF THE HOLY TRINITY. This means everything goes, everything is on the table, nothing whatsoever can be looked at as rock solid, not even Matthew 16:18.


These men knew they were flouting the doctrine of immutability. So they had a plan for that too.

As a bonus, here is the full text of Ann’s post, 25 December 2018:


The “Dissolving of the Petrine Office into a Synodal Petrine Ministry” was THE HOT TOPIC amongst German Theologians in the Church in the 1960s and 70s.

The gaslighting ends right here, right now, folks.  ENDS.

The accusation is that the notion and idea of Pope Benedict’s attempted resignation being invalid due to the Substantial Error clause in Canon 188 is “insanity” because “there is no evidence that the notion of fundamentally transforming the Papacy by bifurcating the Papacy into a “shared ministry” with a “contemplative member” and an “active, administrative member” entered Pope Benedict’s mind.”  It is further argued and cast as insanity that the distinction in Pope Benedict’s attempted resignation statement between the “munus” (Office) and “ministerium” (Ministry/Administration) has any meaning, and the words are used unthinkingly as pure synonyms.  It is argued that these very notions are “desperate grabbing at straws” and “insanity”, or indicative of insanity.

Punchline first:

Among German theologians of the 1960s and 1970s, with Joseph Ratzinger squarely and prominently at the core of the discussion, the question and desire to “fundamentally transform the Petrine Office”, namely to “DISSOLVE the Petrine Office” in favor of a “collegial, synodal PETRINE MINISTRY shared among multiple living people simultaneously” was not only discussed, it was one of the more popular topics of the day, with a veritable MOUNTAIN of texts, mostly in German, written and published.

We have found, however, a text, written in English in ARSH 1980, that is a synthesis and compendium of all of these (mostly) German theologians’ positions, written by the current Archbishop of Vancouver, J. Michael Miller.  I highly recommend that anyone with even the slightest interest in WHO THE VICAR OF JESUS CHRIST ON EARTH REALLY IS go ahead and buy this text:

The Divine Right of the Papacy in Recent Ecumenical Theology” J. Michael Miller, 1980

Joseph Ratzinger is cited and footnoted many times throughout this book.  He was at the center of the conversation along with his mentor and close friend, Karl Rahner; Hans Kung; his close associate at the University of Tubingen with whom he co-edited a 150 year retrospective compendium of the works of the Tubingen faculty, Johannes Neumann; and wait for it… WALTER KASPER. Even the American Avery Cardianal Dulles is prominently footnoted.

Again, in the interest of getting to the point ASAP, here is a screen cap of pages 196 and 197 from Chapter 8, “Contemporary Catholic Views on Papal Primacy Iure Divino”, Section 4, “Irreversibility of the Papacy” wherein Ratzinger is footnoted, and Ratzinger’s mentor and close friend, Karl Rahner is cited in Footnoted 102 stating almost word-for-word what Archbishop Ganswein stated in his May 2016 address at the Gregorianum.  So that the text will populate onto search engines, I retype that which is shown in the screen caps below:

“[Heinrich Stirnimann, for ex-]ample, holds that “the papacy as an historical form can disappear without harming the faith, in order to allow a new expression of the Petrine Ministry.” (Footnote 101)  By making use of this terminology belief in a necessary Petrine function is affirmed; at the same time the historical form it has taken in the papacy is not absolutized.

In ecumenical discussion, theologians often use this distinction between the Petrine function and the papacy, even though it is not free from ambiguity.  Non-Catholics draw conclusions from it which most Catholics would be unwilling to draw.  Although they might leave open the possibility of some different configuration of the Petrine office in the future, the majority of Catholic theologians hold that primatial authority must be personally exercised by a bishop who is recognized as the successor of St. Peter. (Footnote 102).  Their use of the Petrine function-papacy distinction is more focused on the possibility of change in the historical form of the papacy, in order to emphasize the many realizations of the Petrine ministry which are open to the Church of the future.  They do not separate the two in any radical way which would suggest that the pope is not the necessary bearer of the Petrine ministry.

The possible changes in the shape of the papacy that theologians envisage demonstrate that irreversibility and immutability are not the same.  In order to show a degree of openness to change compatible with holding that Roman primacy is of divine right, a few proposals can be mentioned.  First, some theologians maintain that when the papacy is situated within the context of other institutions of divine right, then its own relation to the constitution of the Church as an essential element is clarified.  In spite of its importance, the papacy is still just one of the irreversible elements in the Church’s structure. (Footnote 103)  Secondly, other proposals concern the need for changes in the way in which primatial authority is exercised: from a monarchical or centralist model to a more collegial and decentralized one. (Footnote 104) Thirdly, an important change in the papacy would occur if the process was clarified by which Rome has united under a single title its unique primacy originating from a special apostolic charge conferred by Christ, and its administrative role for the Western Church originating from its patriarchal status.  The pope has not adequately distinguished his exercise of Petrine authority from patriarchal authority. (Footnote 105 Ratzinger) If a careful distinction is worked out between these two roles, much of what the pope has absorbed into his primatial authority might again be seen as an exercise of his patriarchal authority.  All these proposals demonstrate that when contemporary theologians apply ius divinum to Roman primacy they do not thereby imply that there can be no changes in the way papal authority will be exercised in the future.

Footnote 102:
In this regard Rahner does not share the opinion of the majority. He holds that the Church can distinguish between and individual and a moral person as the bearer of apostolic authority.  In the case of the episcopacy, for instance, it is not its monarchical dimension which is iure divino, but the need for the presence of episcopal authority in every local church.  It is possible therefore that a small group of persons or a central body possess episcopal authority (“Basic Observations,” 19; cf. “Open Questions on Dogma,” 215-216).  Later he applies the same argument to papal primacy (Amtsverstandinis, 25-32).  In this case the Petrine function would exist iure divino, but not need to be exercised by a single individual.  Cf. J. Neumann, “Eine Verfassung fur die Freiheit,” Wort und Warheit 23 (1968) 387-400.  Dulles makes the same point as Rahner: “In theory, the Petrine function could be performed either by a single individual presiding over the whole Church, or by some kind of committee, board, synod or parliament – possibly with a ‘division of powers’ into judicial, legislative, administrative, and the like” (“Papal Authority,” 55).  See a favorable Protestant reaction to this idea of a “shared papacy” in Andreas Lindt…. (see screen cap)

Footnote 105:
Ratzinger, Il nuovo popolo di Dio, 2nd ed. (Brescia: Queriniana, 1972) 144-146; and Ratzinger, “Primat,” 762-763…. (see screen cap)

WITHIN THE SPECTRUM of these theologians, Joseph Ratzinger was actually on the more conservative side, which is damning with faint praise, indeed.  There was OPEN TALK in this circle about the ABOLITION OF THE PAPACY OUTRIGHT by Kung, Rahner, Neumann and others. Ratzinger denied this possibility of total abolition, but did argue that the Papacy was NOT immutable (unchangeable), could be changed, and could be “synodalized” along the lines of Petrine Office vs. Ministry AND along the lines of Petrine vs. Patriarchal.

Antipope Bergoglio’s IMMEDIATE refusal to refer to himself as anything other than the Bishop (aka Patriarch) of Rome, AND his immediate citing of Cardinal Walter Kasper as his “favorite theologian”, who was up to his eyebrows in this business of, as Rahner termed it, “the dissolving of the Petrine Office” as a means of appeasing the Lutherans – now ECHOES SO MUCH THE LOUDER in the ears of every honest and Godfearing Catholic.

I’m going to wrap this post up here, just to keep it short, but there are several things that need to happen:

EVERYONE BUY THE BOOK BY J. Michael Miller and READ IT.  Chapters 7 and 8 are jaw-dropping.

I need my German readers (God bless you!!) to get to work on poring over these German texts that are cited in Miller’s bibliography and footnotes.  We need the key passages, and we need them translated into English.

We need JOURNALISTS to go to Archbishop Miller who is currently the Archbishop of Vancouver and start asking questions.

  • Archbishop Miller, when you heard the news on February 11, 2013 that Pope Benedict had announced his intention to resign the papacy were you surprised?
  • When you heard Pope Benedict’s remarks at his final audience on 27 February 2013, were you at all reminded of the 300 page text you wrote in 1980 citing Ratzinger on the expanding and transforming of the Papacy?
  • When you read the text of Archbishop Ganswein’s speech delivered at the Gregorianum on 20 May 2016, did you feel as though you had been plagiarized? (I’m being snarky here.)

Again, what this proves is that this CONCEPT of transforming the Papacy, splitting it into a synodal, collegial ministry shared by multiple people simultaneously HAD BEEN IN POPE BENEDICT’S MIND, WITHOUT ANY DOUBT, SINCE the MID-1960s AT THE VERY LATEST.

He wanted to quit, which has been a life-long habit of his, because he saw how utterly overrun with corruption the Vatican and Institutional Church were (and we will leave the question of coercion for another day) and so he retreated to this wildly erroneous “hypothesis” that he and his closest friends and colleagues had been discussing, debating and publishing on at length for OVER 45 YEARS, and actually attempted it.

His attempt to do this madness – analogized in its uniqueness and enormousness to nothing less than the Immaculate Conception by Archbishop Ganswein – of course, FAILED because the Petrine Office, instituted by Jesus Christ Himself and recorded in the Gospels, is IRREVERSIBLE AND IMMUTABLE.  Any other position is SUBSTANTIALLY ERRONEOUS, and any attempted resignation of the Papacy proffered under the false premise of a REVERSIBLE, CHANGEABLE Papacy is INVALID BY THE LAW ITSELF.

It does not matter whether or not you, I or anyone else, including Pope Benedict HIMSELF “wants” him to be Pope.  Ontological realities have NOTHING to do with “wants” nor with “numbers”.  All that matters is the TRUTH of what IS. An error held unanimously is still an error.  A truth universally denied is still the truth.  Appeals to “wants” or “numbers” are pathetic, and should be taken as de facto concessions of the argument itself.

I would like to acknowledge and thank my German readers, and also to the author of the NonVeniPacem blog, without whose invaluable help this discovery would not have come to light, at least not any time soon.


Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.

5 thoughts on “Repost plus a bonus: “In theory, the Petrine function could be performed either by a single individual presiding over the whole Church, or by some kind of committee, board, synod or parliament – possibly with a ‘division of powers’ into judicial, legislative, administrative, and the like”

  1. It seems that “digging up of the past” with regard to Benedict’s 11 February 2013 Renunciation Announcement, whereby accusations are made that Benedict somehow tried to change the Papacy in some way, is actually an effort to brainwash the public by repeatedly hitting readers mind with “bifurcation,” “synodal/collegial transformation,” or whatever substantial change one has in mind. But those who are making such assertions are in fact PRESUMING that this is what Benedict did, and then presenting the various modes or ideas that modernists from the past envisioned the Petrine Office to appear. It’s nothing short of a circular argument, a logical error: “Ratzinger’s new Papacy is a Papacy transformed to the idea of Kung, Rahner, Neumann and others; the idea of Kung, Rahner, Neumann and others is a synodalized/collegial Papacy never before seen; Therefore, Ratzinger’s new Papacy is synodalized/collegial Papacy never before seen.” This type of reasoning is absolutely disingenuous, indeed it is insane and cruelly unjust.

    No one, and I mean no one, not even Mrs. Barnhardt, (Brother Alexis excepted who did an excellent job with the Latin, though I disagree with him that Benedict made a substantial error which invalidated his Renunciation–my disagreement with his position being that the threw out the long standing legal Virtue of Equity/Epikeia which even St. Thomas admits) has made a thorough analysis of the Official Latin text of Benedict’s Renunciation. Most of todays commentators have no knowledge of Latin or very little knowledge. And if they think is is sufficient that they read the English translation, or the translation done in any other language, they are only fooling themselves, for those translations are worthless; the in no way reflect what Benedict actually said. And if you guys think you can use those translations, you’re going to be way off in left field.

    However, not only was the Latin text of B.’s renunciation flippantly discarded, but also the original Italian of Dom Ganswein’s talk on 20 May 2016 is never used–no, only the faulty translations are used. One example should suffice. Latin, and Italian, the first offspring of Latin, use the Subjunctive Mood in a very definite way which avoids expressing a FACT, which belongs to the Indicative Mood. Here’s what the Subjunctive is all about:

    “The Subjunctive mood (modo congiuntivo), used in Italian much more than in English or French, expresses an action or a state not as a fact, but as a possible, probable, uncertain or expedient and, most frequently, depending on another action or state expressed or understood. It is therefore used especially in subordinate clauses which depend on principal clauses—hence the name congiuntivo, the mood which joins two actions or states, when one wishes to convey an impression, an opinion or some conception of the mind, but never a fact” (Delia Lennie and Moira Grego, Italian for You: A Practical Grammar, Longman Group Limited, 1977, p.131).

    Thus, if all you experts are going to use Google translations or even so-called professional translations, which very rarely give authentic sense of the Subjunctive in Latin or any other Romance language. Anyone not going to the original language is going to get everything WRONG from the get go. I thought I might be able to do some good here, but I’m beginning to sense that it is nothing but little league wannabe theologians. I really can’t waste any more time with the thick skulled know-it-alls hanging around the various blogs. Yes, even the elect are allowing themselves to be blown away by the winds from hell, as Cardinal
    Cerejeira prophesied in 1959.

    The proud will never allow this to be published, but that’s fine; it’s typical of the proud. And just as Our Lord God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble, I will desist from commenting on these types of blogs. Arrogance is repulsive.

    1. Father, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Your point on the vernacular translations is accurate. Your claim that I or anyone else here is saying that Benedict actually did bifurcate the papacy is incorrect. What I am doing here is trying to show that a bunch of German theologians in the 60s thought such a thing was possible and that in fact it should be done. They were wrong.

      We don’t know Benedict’s specific motives, and your thesis could certainly turn out to be the correct one.

    2. ” Latin, and Italian, the first offspring of Latin, use the Subjunctive Mood in a very definite way which avoids expressing a FACT, which belongs to the Indicative Mood.”

      Dear Father,
      I respect your priesthood, of course, but not your ignorance. The above statement only shows how little YOU know about Latin.
      It is totally untrue that the subjunctive (in Latin, ‘modus conjunctivus’) *always* avoids expressing a fact, and this is clear not only from a nearly infinite number of examples I could give, but from the very meaning of the technical grammatical terms. ‘Conjunctivus’ literally means ‘conjoined’. All that the subjunctive/conjunctive mood does then, is express an action that is *dependent* on some other action. This often does really mean that the action expressed by the subjunctive mood avoids expressing a fact.
      Example: Expositio tua de modo subjunctivo Latino me dubitare peritiam tuam in grammatica Latina causet.
      Translation: Your exposition of the Latin subjunctive mood might cause me to doubt your expertise in Latin grammar.
      But just as often, it does nothing of the kind, but merely expresses the dependency of one action upon another.
      Example: Cum tu evidenter grammaticam Latinam non bene scias, non necesse est nos tibi confidere respectu expositionis tuae.
      Translation: Since you evidently do not know Latin grammar well, there’s no need for us to trust you in respect of your exposition.
      In this example, ‘scias’ is a subjunctive. The subjunctive is used simply because the ‘cum clause’ is a subordinate clause. It is a pure *convention* of idiom that the subjunctive is used in this and many other subordinate clauses, and no doubt is implied; the subjunctive is used simply because the subordinate clause is dependent on the main clause.

      “Arrogance is repulsive”
      Assentio tibi vehementer. :o/

      Attamen gratiam videndi tibi opto, ne tu semper arrogans sis.

  2. @ frdbelland:

    Pope Benedict XVI is still there.

    I may not be as smart as you, but at least I can see that.

    Either he has to go, or the new guy has to go.

  3. Yes, me too. Not sure if I get the main point of your post.

    You offered help with translation from latin. I did read some latinists/lawers comments about text of B16 resignation but I don’t remember them saying anything particularly interesting about bad translation.

    Here is essential part of B16 resignation in English:
    “with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter”
    here is latin:
    “declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, (…) renuntiare”
    rest is not important.

    frdbelland, please, do point out what is wrong with this translation. If you are right and if this translation is indeed somehow misleading we have serious problem and you are the one who can help. Also if you think that there are other important parts in resignation text point it out as well.

    ‘I’m beginning to sense that it is nothing but little league wannabe theologians’
    Hmmmm… I’d like to know more about theology but don’t even think I’m theologian, even not ‘wannabe’. I didn’t notice anybody else speaking ex cathedra in those questions. Luckily, one doesn’t need to be theologian to understand that B16’s resignation is fishy.

    “Ganswein’s talk’ is not important in establishing fact of valid papal resignation. It can shed light on B16 intentions similar to past documents of ‘German theologians’, but does not affect validity of resignation at all.

    ‘Anyone not going to the original language is going to get everything WRONG from the get go. I thought I might be able to do some good here’. If you can help, please, do but say what you want to prove/illustrate. My interest is pretty narrow: can you show that B16 resignation is valid. If you can show, by proper translation/explanation that I’m wrong saying that above quote is not valid as papal resignation, please, please do so. Or maybe there is something else in B16’s text I missed.

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