It took me many years to state in this space my belief in what I suspected/feared/dreaded from the moment Pope Benedict’s putative abdication was announced, that Pope Benedict did not in fact validly abdicate the papal office and thus remains pope.* I waited years, partly out of the enormity of the thing, partly out of a fear of leading others astray in case I was wrong, partly out of fear of committing schism, and partly because it seemed to me precisely the easiest way out of the terrible scourge that the putative Bergoglian papal reign has been to all of us. By us, I mean Catholics, and those who could have become Catholic if the faith had been upheld and proclaimed by the hierarchy and lay Catholics who followed Bergoglio down the road to his version of religion. Usually, when I want something to happen, it does not; hence my own desire that Benedict not have validly resigned was a significant reason for me hesitating to believe it.
But there it is.
So many times I hear, from well-meaning Catholics better than me, that it isn’t something I should concern myself about “because it doesn’t really matter to my daily life as a Catholic who the pope is.”
But maybe it does? What if it does? Consider these two recent headlines:
Vatican source: Pope to attack Ecclesia Dei communities in February
Newsmax thinks Bergoglio is dying
If I were in a group that was the subject of a potentially existential attack by Bergoglio, yet harbored a suspicion or belief that he was not the pope at all, wouldn’t the time to say so be now? If I planned to resist the attack, that is?
And if a conclave were to be held during Pope Benedict’s life but after Bergoglio’s death/ abdication, what does that make the man coming out of that conclave?
I think the answers to these questions are absolutely relevant to how I live my daily life as a Catholic. The reason for all our relative complaisance now is that Pope Benedict has not or cannot stake his claim to the papacy publicly. We haven’t been forced to choose. If he does stake his claim, we can all agree we must choose– and act in accordance with this choice. But if either of the two events I reference above happens, we must effectively choose, because these choices will have much more immediate consequence to our lives than we face at present.
I say, why wait?
- As stated before, I reiterate, due to the importance of this question: I willingly submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, as necessary for salvation, as defined in Unam Sanctam, the bull of Pope Boniface VIII. Because I am human, and an often foolish one, I admit readily that I could be wrong about the factual question of the identity of the Pope, and if I am wrong I willingly submit to the truth, and to the correction of the Church. Thus if Francis is Pope I willingly submit to him in all things necessary for salvation. If Benedict is Pope, I owe him this same allegiance. I also believe in the dogma of Papal Infallibility as defined in the documents of the First Vatican Council. I think the fact that Papal Infallibility is true is more easily and logically squared with the Benedict-is-still-Pope conclusion, but of course as a lawyer I can string together an argument based on the Francis-is-Pope conclusion. Let’s just say my hourly rate to argue the latter is much higher than the former.