Dr. Mazza once again strikes with a dagger of documented simplicity. Published today by Marco Tosatti:
“Dear friends and foes of Stilum Curiae, we receive from Dr. Edmund Mazza this open letter directed to Andrea Cionci, in response to the article found at this link. Happy reading“
On May 11th, Italian journalist and blogger, Andrea Cionci, addressed an open letter to me and Ann Barnhardt publicly disagreeing with our stated position that Pope Benedict likely committed substantial error in his 2013 renunciation, thereby invalidating it according to Canon 188 (and Canon 332.2). Cionci invited us to examine his research and adopt his view. Cionci, however, did not engage any of my arguments, he merely presented his own. He argues that Benedict did not intend to renounce anything, but to create an impeded see. He further claims that Benedict is speaking in coded messages for “those who have ears to hear.”
Since St. Paul and St. Thomas both prominently teach that fraternal correction is an act of charity toward our neighbor, I hope that Mr. Cionci will accept this public reply in that spirit in which it is offered. In saying this, I do not claim to be a “know-it-all.” I could be wrong about the invalidity of Benedict’s resignation. I have always maintained that I am merely presenting an hypothesis.
That having been said, in my estimation, the evidence is insurmountable that Pope Benedict intended to renounce something. (Specialists and non-specialists alike may differ on what that something was and whether he succeeded in his endeavor in the eyes of God.)
Let us turn to the evidence, starting with his own testimony to Peter Seewald in his 2016 book, Last Testament: In His Own Words:
Seewald: You say that you sought counsel on your decision. Indeed, with your ultimate boss. How was that?
Pope Benedict: You have to lay out all your affairs before Him as clearly as possible and try not to see everything only in terms of efficiency or other criteria for resignation, but to look at it from faith. It was from precisely this perspective that I became convinced that the commission of Peter demanded concrete decisions, insights, from me, but then, when it was no longer possible for me for the foreseeable future, that the Lord no longer wanted me to do it and freed me from the burden, as it were. I could resign because calm had returned to this situation. It was not a case of retreating under pressure or feeling that things couldn’t be coped with.
Or again, Benedict speaks of his resignation in the context of the curial retreat that occurred after his Declaratio was delivered:
Pope Benedict: …retreats are places of silence, of listening, of prayer. Of course it was part of the whole plan of the resignation for it to be followed by a week of silence, where everyone is able to work it out inwardly, or the bishops, cardinals and staff of the Curia at least.
Seewald: Have you ever regretted the resignation even for a minute?
Pope Benedict: No! No, no. Every day I see that it was right.
Why does Benedict repeatedly speak of resignation if that was not his intention?
Then we have his testimony from his last General Audience on February 27, 2013:
In these last months I have felt my energies declining, and I have asked God insistently in prayer to grant me his light and to help me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step with full awareness of its gravity and even its novelty, but with profound interior serenity…
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…
The “always” is also a “forever” —there is no longer a return to the private. My decision to renounce 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, etc. I do not abandon the cross but remain in a new way with the Crucified Lord. I no longer carry the power of the [Petrine] office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the precincts of St. Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way to a life, which, active or passive, belongs totally to the work of God.
Finally, we have Benedict’s Declaratio itself:
…in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Benedict speaks of a physical incapacity to completely fulfill the Petrine ministry entrusted to him and then proceeds to “renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome…” He even speaks of a “conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff.”
Furthermore, in his interview with Seewald, Benedict acknowledges Francis as the new Pope!
Pope Benedict: The new Pope, though, is South American and Italian, so he represents both the intertwining of the new and old worlds and the inner unity of history.
He is definitely a Pope of reflection as well. When I read Evangelii gaudium, or even the interviews, I see that he is a thoughtful person, who grapples intellectually with the questions of our time. But at the same time he is simply someone who is very close to people, who stands with them, who is always among them.
Or in the 2021 book, Benedict: A Life:
Seewald: On March 23, 2013, the first meeting between the newly elected and the resigned Pope took place in Castel Gandolfo, an absolute novelty in history. What were your thoughts in that hour?
Pope Benedict: I knew Pope Francis from his Ad Limina visit and from various correspondence contacts that my congregation had had with him. I also knew that he tried to call me immediately after the election, before he showed himself to people from the balcony of St. Peter’s Church. So I was looking forward to meeting my successor and knowing thankfully that it would be a good meeting between brothers. Incidentally, of course, I carefully considered what I should say to him without consuming too much time. So this first encounter remains as a good light in mine memory. As you know, personal friendship with Pope Francis has not only remained, but has grown.
I could cite many other examples as well, but these should suffice.
In conclusion, I appeal to you Mr. Cionci to consider how much it strains credulity to believe that Benedict did not intend to resign. It strains it unimaginably further to argue that he not only intended not to resign but is sending us cryptic messages to confirm it.
Now that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is calling for an investigation of Benedict’s Renunciation and Francis’ Election, the last thing we need is to lose credibility by proposing theories that open us so easily to ridicule and accusations of Gnosticism.
In Jesus and Mary,
Edmund J. Mazza, PhD
May 19, 2022
Feast of St. Celestine V, resignant pope