Would it have been possible for Pope Benedict to resign properly without using the word “Office” in the Declaratio?

Well, yes, it would have indeed been possible. Nowhere is it written in canon law that the word “office” must be used. Canon law simply says the resignation must be “properly manifested” per Can. 332.2 (which is a canon specifically regulating PAPAL resignations, so to anyone using the “pope is above canon law” thingy… that dog won’t hunt).

So how could Pope Benedict have properly resigned without specifically using the word “Office?”

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Here is an excerpt from President Nixon’s resignation speech, 8 August 1974:

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

See how clear and simple that is? Notice anything similar to the Benedictine Declaratio? Notice anything different? I was only seven years old, but I don’t recall there being any Nixovacantists in the aftermath of this, so even though he didn’t use the word “office” in the essential clause of the text, he must have done his resignation properly.

Why?

Because he NAMED the office he was resigning. The Presidency IS the office. He speaks earlier in the passage of the DUTIES of the office, and the difficulties in his carrying out those duties, due to current circumstances (as did Pope Benedict in a very similar way). But then when it got down to actually, you know, RESIGNING, he did not say, “I shall resign the DUTIES of the Presidency,” because if you only resign/delegate the duties, then you’re still the President. For the resignation to be effective, you have to resign the Presidency itself.

It was also helpful that when Nixon left on his helicopter ride, he really left. Benedict, not so much.

Remember, this is an issue because Pope Benedict only attempted to resign/delegate the ministry/duties, not the Papacy/office. If Benedict had simply said, “I resign the Papacy,” then it would have been finished, because the Papacy is synonymous with the Office. “The ministry of the Bishop of Rome,” is clearly not synonymous with the Office. Check the Latin Declaratio; he didn’t even bother to capitalize “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.

There is just so much to talk about in this sentence. First we see that he is intending to delegate the “ministerio” or the duties (Active Ministry) of the Office, but every reader of this space knows from Canon 131.1 that delegating the duties does not confer the Office, HERE.  Notice that he also inserts “Successor of Saint Peter,” which seems strange, because Benedict remains such whether he is present pope or retired pope. He forever will have been Successor of Saint Peter. We also have the controversy surrounding the Future Indicative vs Potential Subjunctive (“ita ut a”, “vacet”) where the notion that the See will be vacant goes from being a statement of fact to merely an opinion or possibility, depending on which Latinist you consult. See HERE and modified HERE. The phrase that I first latched onto, the one that first raised my eyebrow and nudged me to dig into this whole mess, was that he attached “ita un a,” (meaning, “in such a way”) as a modifier to to the resignation in connection to the (possible?) need for a conclave. If you really are resigning, why is the phrase even needed? But if you are only attempting to resign/delegate the duties, well then you might have to be splainin’ how even though you are retaining the office, you’re doing it “in such a way” that we might need a conclave and a new pope anyway. Is it plain enough that this entire paragraph is utter chaos?

The idea of the exactness and correctness of the Latin text being crucial to the validity of an act is ancient and well-documented. The following is from an article titled, “A Null Act?” printed two days after the Declaratio HERE. It provides several examples worth considering. Forgive the horrible google translate from Italian French:

It is a certain principle in traditional canon law that any rescript, brief or papal bull that contains a Latin fault is null. St. Gregory VII ( Registrum 1.33) declared a privilege granted to a monastery by his predecessor Alexander II, “because of the corruption of the Latin” , which constitutes “a very obvious sign” .

The decretal Ad audientiam of Pope Lucius III, which appears in the body of canon law (Decretals of Gregory IX, I, Title III, Rescriptis , v. XI) posits that ” the false latinity invalidates a rescript of the pope” . The pope forbids to believe a pontifical letter “since it contains an obvious fault of construction” . The gloss (in the official corrected text published on the order of Pope Gregory XIII in 1582) explains in this respect that a rescript of the pope “must contain no fault” , since it is “elaborated with a lot of time”A Latin fault constitutes such a presumption of nullity that no evidence to the contrary can be admitted.

In the same article, you will read that the original Latin Declaratio currently posted on vatican.va is NOT the same document written and read aloud by Pope Benedict HERE.  Although the Vatican originally published the real document, it was quickly taken down because there were even more serious errors in the Latin than what remain in the version we see today. The two most glaring being:

  1. Mixing tenses and grammatical incoherence, where declares was changed to declaro, and commissum was changed to commisso. The fact that these errors appeared in the crucial clause of the text is a serious matter.
  2. The time at which Benedict stated he would resign was 28 February 2013 at the 29th hour.

Wait, what?

Yeah, he will totally not be the pope anymore at the 29th hour of the last day of February. (Keep in mind, the entire non-anglo world uses what we would call military-style 24 hour clock, with the addition of the colon. So what we in angloworld call “1:00 P.M.,” everyone else says “13:00”) So the syntax is not an issue, if only he would have actually written and read out “20th hour” or “20:00,” which is 8 P.M., which is what “they” amended the text to read. UPDATE, 11:09 MST 23 June: Although 29th Hour was in the written Declaratio, it sounds as if Pope Benedict stumbles a bit in the video, but then does say twentieth hour, “hora vicesima,” at the 01:24 mark.

Can you imagine if Nixon had said, “I shall resign the Presidency effective at 29 O’Clock tomorrow?” Do you think someone would have suggested to him that this was a nonsense statement, and that he needed to personally correct it, or else the resignation would not be properly manifested?

39 thoughts on “Would it have been possible for Pope Benedict to resign properly without using the word “Office” in the Declaratio?

  1. This is news to me. 29th hour? Incredible.

    Though even if Benedict had specified the munus, I still doubt everything would be fine given the evidence of substantial error that we find in his subsequent words and behavior — e.g., his Apostolic Blessings or his statement that his acceptance of the papacy was “always and forever.” This kind of post-declaratio evidence strikes me just as problematic as the declaratio itself, and perhaps more so, as it still makes it probable that Benedict erroneously thought that he could vacate the Chair of Peter yet retain the Petrine Office. (No?)

  2. Did Benedict XVI actually say that he would resign at the 29th hour, or did he correct the error ad hoc? This is the first time I’ve heard this.

      1. @ Mark: Perhaps the glaring errors in the original Declaratio are Pope Benedict’s bells and whistles and neon lights that indicate the engraved invitation he has given us to take note and follow him since he made it clear (perhaps using the legitimate, non-malicious, and non-deceitful virtue of Equity) that he did not resign the Papal Office.

      2. Did you not read my post and click on the link I provided? The translation, and the original Latin were changed after the fact to say 8:00 (20th hour). That’s the whole point.

      3. Yes, I read it, but I wanted to confirm what he actually said, which would seem to be relevant. I agree that the errors in the text raise additional questions. I doubt he actually wrote the thing out himself, but you’d think he would proof it before reading it publically. Stranger and stranger.

  3. “The time at which Benedict stated he would resign was 28 February 2013 at the 29th hour.”

    I can already hear the FrankyTrads dismissing this as merely a misspeak. OR as further proof that Benedict really did mean to fully retire because

    “See! He wasn’t capable anymore. He’s losing his mental sharpness! And he knows it!”

    1. @Lazarus Gethsemane: Would you agree that a person in a position of authority only has as much actual power to exert his authority as his subordinates give him through their obedience? Would you agree that with the hierarchy in the rotten, filthy, even demonic mess that it has been in for 50-plus years that authority to exercise the Petrine Ministry was more in name only for not only Pope Benedict but also in some instances for JPII (altar girls) and even Paul VI (Communion in the hand)? Would you agree that by resigning from the exercise of power, Pope Benedict was simply demonstrating to the world the situation as it actually exists; namely, although he has the Office through no fault of his own he is not allowed to effectively exercise the ministry of that office? He might as well be in prison or hanging on a cross for all the effectiveness his subordinates allow him to be able to do what he ought to be doing.

      Perhaps resigning the ministry was the only way to show the reality for what it is AND at the same time by retaining the office he safeguards Holy Mother Church. What he did was reasonable, he could do, and it was fitting that he did it. You might notice that this is how Duns Scotus spoke of God’s decision regarding the Immaculate Conception.

      1. “What he did was reasonable, he could do, and it was fitting”

        But if the Petrine Office comes with duties, then how can a pope really resign the papal ministry and retain the Petrine Office? (The act strikes me as both metaphysically impossible and morally reprehensible.)

      2. He didn’t really resign the ministry either. It’s all still his, but the Ministry has been delegated, at least apparently. Canon 131.1 says that delegated duties do not confer the office.

      3. @camroyer: My point you seemed to have missed.

        When mutiny is the modus operandi of the subordinates in the hierarchy to the point where the Pope’s authority to exercise his power is not only thwarted but even used by the subordinates to oppose what is Catholic in the pope’s name, perhaps the better choice is to shine the light of day onto the reality that he alone lived and lives and resign from exercising the power of the ministry (which he couldn’t use anyway) while retaining the Papal Office; thus safeguarding the promises of Christ to His Church and to us. That is my point and why I say along with Duns Scotus, “what he did was reasonable; he could do it and it was fitting.”

      4. “. . . resign from exercising the power of the ministry (which he couldn’t use anyway) while retaining the Papal Office”

        I understood the point you’re making to concern the Holy Father’s rationale for stepping aside, and I think you might be right. But you still strike me as saying that, in fact, the Holy Father could resign his ministry yet retain his office. Is that your view? (It strikes me as possible only nominally.)

        “Would you agree that a person in a position of authority only has as much actual power to exert his authority as his subordinates give him through their obedience?”

        I have some doubts about this myself. I worry the idea is conflating the actual power to exert authority over people with the power to control them. I also worry the idea is making a subordinate’s obedience antecedent to an authority’s actual power to exert his authority, whereas it seems the latter would have to be antecedent to the former.

      5. @camroyer: Good points about exerting authority vs power to control. However, I wonder if it really matters in the end should the one in authority not be able to exert that authority to its intended purposes; namely, feeding the lambs and sheep–governing and teaching. Per Mark’s comment regarding the more precise or accurate resignation then possible subsequent delegation, Pope Benedict didn’t even resign the Petrine Ministry but only from exercising the powers of that ministry. In other words he retains both the Papal Office and the Petrine Ministry but refuses to exercise the power of the ministry? Is that what he did?

      6. Islam_Is Islam: “In other words he retains both the Papal Office and the Petrine Ministry but refuses to exercise the power of the ministry? Is that what he did?”

        Nominally, in light of the Latin, I think we have to say he resigned the ministry. In reality, though, I don’t believe he was able to resign the ministry, or even the exercise of its power, since I see the Petrine Office as bringing with it the duty to exercise the Petrine Ministry (much like a father has the duty to act like a father so long as he is a father).

        Regarding the idea that Benedict has possibly delegated his duties to Bergoglio, my own view is that, even if Benedict has attempted this, directly or indirectly, it’s unlawful and doesn’t bind, not because the Pope can’t delegate (generally, I agree he can), but because I don’t think he can delegate authority to others so they can act as popes (i.e., as equals or superiors rather than inferiors and representatives). If a sitting pope delegates authority to another man so he can act as Supreme Pontiff — not just as the Supreme Pontiff’s representative — then I can’t see how the delegation in question wouldn’t be null due to substantial error. For this reason, even the notion of delegated authority doesn’t convince me that I must submit to Bergoglio.

  4. Islam_Is Islam

    -Yes

    -Yes to the premise (with exceptions) No, I think JPII was complicit in the Modernist heresies. And No , Paul VI was DEFINITELY part and parcel to the Lavender Modernists.

    (“Perhaps resigning the ministry was the only way to show the reality for what it is AND at the same time by retaining the office he safeguards Holy Mother Church. What he did was reasonable, he could do, and it was fitting that he did it. You might notice that this is how Duns Scotus spoke of God’s decision regarding the Immaculate Conception.”)

    I would certainly consider this as a possible explanation based upon the reasonableness and consistency of the logic.

    1. @Lazarus Gethsemane: Thank you for your consideration. I appreciate your partial list of exceptions.

  5. When a person resigns from something, he leaves. They take his key card, I D badge and then escort him to his car. They take his Royal Crown and send him off to France. They take his nuclear suitcase and put him on a helicopter back to California. They take his Whites, smash his Piscatory ring and send him to an isolated Monastery.

    Nixon waved from the top step, gave a peace sign for the history books and disappeared forever into the helicopter. No question, no debate, no parsing or his resignation syntax: he was gone. We saw it happen. And he never came back.

    King Edward VIII gave grand parties in his French apartment as the exiled Duke of Windsor. Never came back.

    Benedict XVI, our Holy Father, (who needs our prayers) still there.

    Really, really important.

  6. @Mark Docherty: Would it be more precise to say that he resigned from exercising the Petrine Ministry than saying that he resigned from the Petrine Ministry itself?

      1. @Mark Docherty: I don’t know. Is it clear that he did indeed delegate the exercise of power to anyone else? Or did someone(s) just assume those powers that he announced he would not be exercising?

      2. @Mark Docherty: Would you agree that as much as we might like Pope Benedict to publicly make some kind of statement of nullity, the supernatural and temporal reality is that he need not nullify that which is already null.

      3. Mark Docherty says:
        June 23, 2019 at 11:57 am

        “@Islam is Islam: Good point. In either scenario, he is in a position to nullify all the heresy of the last six years with one news conference.”

        I think his physical abilities have seriously declined in the last couple of years. In fact, I question whether he is even capable of discernible speech anymore.

  7. Post-conciliar popes used to do apparently insane things such as kissing the blasphemous book of pseudo-Muhammad or praying to St. John the Baptist that he may protect islam.

  8. Mark Docherty says:
    June 23, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    “I believe he still receives guests.”

    I would have to see actual video of those visits so I could see and hear him interact with people. Because as it currently stands – I don’t believe any of the claims I hear about him anymore.

  9. I will resign the ministry of St. Elsewhere at eleventy o’clock on the 12th of Never.

  10. No one has ever explained to me why it would be impossible for JPII or BXVI (who everybody assumes were good men) to go out on the balcony on a Wednesday, and read out to the world the names of Cardinals L, G, B, T, etc., who are homosexuals and/or Freemasons, and Cardinals X, Y, Z, etc., who are Communists and/or homosexuals, etc., and Cardinal A, B, C, who are embezzlers and/or homosexuals. If there is no secrecy, the traitors have no power.

    I understand that the thought of such an action never flickered through their minds for a millisecond. That’s the problem. The people down there in the Square are cattle. They can’t handle the truth.

    1. I think it’s because the infestation is so deep, the popes would have been dead men walking had anyone gotten a whiff of what they were up to. It’s one of the blessing of how this is all playing out, because the full stench is finally out in the open.

      1. Mark Docherty says:
        June 23, 2019 at 2:37 pm

        “I think it’s because the infestation is so deep, the popes would have been dead men walking had anyone gotten a whiff of what they were up to. It’s one of the blessing of how this is all playing out, because the full stench is finally out in the open.”

        All of this begs the question: How can a group of prelates whose membership is overwhelming made up of heretical Sodomites even begin to LICITLY elect a legitimate Pope?

        There is no way.

        And if Canon Law allows that hellish paradigm – then Canon Law itself is pure evil.

      2. Valid and Licit are two different things. A priest/bishop in mortal sin still connects the sacrament validly, though illicitly. If Benedict really did resign, then these men had the power to elect Francis. Although there are also additional impediments that could have prevented him from receiving the Office from Christ.

      3. @Mark (friendly, not hostile remarks)
        I think it’s because the infestation is so deep, the popes would have been dead men walking had anyone gotten a whiff of what they were up to.

        Well, if this is true reason for what happened it means he left us in hands of those men out of fear being a dead man.

        (from leading post)
        whether he is present pope or retired pope

        Mark, you can write like this. Some may get the idea that ‘retired pope’/’pope emeritus’ is a possibility.

        Valid and Licit are two different things.

        Yes, they are. In this case though BaF is no valid nor licit, because he is not pope at all.
        He effectively exercises papal power but he is not the pope, so it is impossible for him to be a valid but not licit pope.
        Now, what we (you and I) will do about that? Looking for more proofs?

  11. Mark Docherty says:
    June 23, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    “Valid and Licit are two different things. A priest/bishop in mortal sin still connects the sacrament validly, though illicitly. If Benedict really did resign, then these men had the power to elect Francis. Although there are also additional impediments that could have prevented him from receiving the Office from Christ.”

    I also said “heretical” Which the vast majority of these prelates are – which by virtue of the law itself would mean they have been automatically excommunicated.

  12. another eye-opener

    incorrect grammar … 29th hour ??? … from a professor … really ???

    it makes one suspect that bxvi could not possibly have
    written ‘his own resignation letter’. …???

Comments are closed.