Can. 748 §1. All persons are bound to seek the truth in those things which regard God and his Church and by virtue of divine law are bound by the obligation and possess the right of embracing and observing the truth which they have come to know.
Count me in: Moral Certitude and the invalid abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, still reigning
I’ve long been on record as doubting the invalid resignation of Benedict by way of “Substantial Error” theory. I supported my case by quoting several public statements from Benedict from his actually announcing his intent, through to his last days in office. I wrote a detailed post about it one year ago, HERE. That post also includes an excerpt from yet another post where I explain the utter impossibility of the Petrine Ministry being split into a diarchy, to say nothing of the level of hubris demonstrated by Benedict if in fact this was his intention. Let’s put it this way: If it turns out this was his true intent, the failed attempt at creating a diarchy would be the single greatest SUBSTANTIAL ERROR in the history of the Church. PLEASE click that link and go read it all, so you can see how I laid out the evidence, because now it’s about to get complicated.
Or perhaps not complicated at all, depending on how you look at it.
It turns out that I missed a huge piece of evidence that seems to directly contradict all the statements where Benedict claimed he was “renouncing”, “leaving”, and would then be Pontiff “no longer, but a simple pilgrim”.
In his final general audience, 27 Feb 2013, he said this: (emphasis mine)
Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. I was able to experience, and I experience it even now, that one receives one’s life precisely when one gives it away. Earlier I said that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and feel great affection for him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.
The “always” is also a “for ever” – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. 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. HERE
Now, combine those words with his decision to retain the papal title as an emeritus, to retain the vesture, to physically remain at the Vatican, etc etc. This is the evidence that is contemporary with the (supposed) abdication. It doesn’t invalidate the other evidence, where he says he is renouncing, but it sure is a serious counterweight to it.
Now, fast forward to Abp. Ganswein’s comments last year where he dropped the bombshell of the “Expanded Petrine Ministry.” These were not off the cuff remarks, but rather a formal, well-prepared speech on Benedict’s papacy, given at the Greg in Rome on 20 May 2016:
Archbishop Gänswein…said that Pope Francis and Benedict are not two popes “in competition” with one another, but represent one “expanded” Petrine Office with “an active member” and a “contemplative.”
“Therefore, from 11 February 2013, the papal ministry is not the same as before,” he said. “It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed during his exceptional pontificate.”
He said that “before and after his resignation” Benedict has viewed his task as “participation in such a ‘Petrine ministry’.
“He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step he took on 11 February 2013, he has not abandoned this ministry,” Gänswein explained, something “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.“
“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.” HERE
His words follow EXACTLY the active vs passive elements as outlined by Benedict in his final general audience, and suggest Benedict has in fact been operating under this guise the entire time. It’s nearly irrefutable.
So now we come to the point where I need to explain the difference between Absolute Certitude, Legal Certitude, and Moral Certitude. it’s going to be a little painful.
In order to have Absolute Certitude about something, the proof must be, you guessed it, absolute. Correctly solving a math equation yields Absolute Certitude. Another term for this is Metaphysical Certitude. The rules of geometry are a metaphysical certitude.
In real life situations that don’t involve the hard sciences, Absolute Certitude is a difficult thing. So we need lesser degrees of certainty to guide us in our actions, which vary depending upon the gravity of the subject. In decisions of secular law, the level of certitude required is in PROPORTION to the gravity of the matter. In lesser legal proceedings (civil, rather than criminal), often the required certitude is the “preponderance of evidence”, which simply means the “greater weight”. The evidence could be nearly 50/50, but all that’s needed is for one side to have just slightly greater than 50%, and that’s enough when the stakes of the case are low. You’re probably more familiar with the term “beyond a reasonable doubt”, usually used in criminal cases, which have more gravity than civil cases. This standard still doesn’t require certitude, but that the evidence for conviction must be significant, such that the weight of evidence for the prosecution must be so convincing that any remaining doubt must require a real stretch of the imagination. Sounds about right? Okay, now break yourself away from the secular legalistic mindset that you’ve been brainwashed into because Law & Order teevee.
Moral Certitude is different. Moral Certitude is the point at which a person is obligated to take action in the moral realm, and the level of proof required here is NOT proportional to the gravity of the matter, as in a legal proceeding, but rather the level of proof required is the INVERSE of the gravity. The greater the gravity of the situation, the less certainty is necessary to require action, when said action has a low risk of harm and a high probability of doing good. The gravest of situations, and the question “who is the valid Vicar of Christ” MOST ASSUREDLY rises to the level of the gravest of situations, requires only the slimmest majority of evidence to necessitate action. This is a matter involving the salvation of souls. Millions and millions of souls.
Therefore, I hereby declare I am morally certain that Jorge Bergoglio aka “Pope Francis” is an antipope by reason of the invalid abdication, due to the Substantial Error of Pope Benedict XVI, still reigning.