Socci: for Eight Years they Wanted Benedict XVI to Say He Is No Longer Pope
5 Marzo 2021
Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae, it is interesting to report opinions on the discussed “interview” of Benedict XVI with Corriere della Sera. Here is a translation of what Antonio Socci wrote. Enjoy reading.
For Eight Years They Have Wanted Benedict XVI to Say that He is No Longer Pope
But Instead He explains that his “Yes” to the Petrine Munus is Irrevocable
By Antonio Socci
First published at Libero – 2 March 2021
You can dilute the broth, but if you go too far you get only water (or bad-tasting soup). It happened yesterday at Corriere della sera, which built two whole pages out of a few phrases by Benedict XVI, who was visited by Massimo Franco and the editor Fontana.
Among other things, in the few remarks attributed to Benedict XVI there were two scoops, but Corriere carefully avoided mentioning them in the headline.
First of all, a word of appreciation for Mario Draghi. Then, more importantly, a critical consideration on Joe Biden, who is Catholic, and says he is personally against abortion, but – says Benedict XVI – “as president he tends to present himself in continuity with the platform of the Democratic party” (a pro-abortion platform). Further, Ratzinger added, “on gender politics we have not yet understood well what his position is.”
Words which, as even Corriere recognizes, “give voice to the diffidence and hostility of a good part of the American episcopate against Biden and his party, which is considered too liberal.”
Given that Bergoglio is instead an ardent supporter of Biden, as was evident even during the electoral campaign, the words of Benedict XVI are a real scoop that ought to have made the headline.
Furthermore, they are added to the critical considerations that Benedict XVI made towards President Obama (“He has determined ideas which we cannot share”) contained in his recent book-interview Last Conversations [with Peter Seewald].
These are critical judgments that make it clear what the ideological context of the American Empire (with a Democratic President) was at the time of the “resignation” of Benedict XVI and the election of Bergoglio, a “progressive” who has broken with the previous magisterium (climate and migrants have replaced “non-negotiable principles”). Even if Bergoglio is today out of line on China, towards which Biden seems to want to confirm Trump’s policy.
Corriere, as I was saying, avoided mentioning Benedict XVI’s declaration on Biden in its headline: it would have been a scoop that was “politically incorrect.” And so, on the front page there is a photo with the headline: “I resigned in full conscience.”
This is something well-known, which the pope emeritus has always said. If anything, his clarity, which even today is remarkable, and his state of health, which after eight years does not show any new serious pathologies, raises many questions about why he resigned in 2013. It remains a mystery.
Inside the paper, the two pages of coverage in Corriere begin with this phrase in quotation marks: “There is only one pope.” But this expression of Benedict XVI is by no means a scoop and it’s not even news.
In fact, for two thousand years Catholic doctrine has said “there is only one pope.” Furthermore, it’s not even news that Benedict XVI says this, because he has already said it other times, most recently in his statements to Peter Seewald for his biography.
The very fact that for eight years it has had to be repeated that “there is only one pope” is surreal, “also because,” as Fabrizio Grasso noted some time ago, “logically, if there was in reality only one pope, there would be no need to emphasize it and restate it so many times.”
ONLY ONE POPE. BUT WHAT IS HIS NAME?
The article in Corriere would have been a scoop if Joseph Ratzinger, beyond repeating “there is one pope” had also mentioned his name. For eight years now, what many of Bergoglio’s supporters have wanted to hear Benedict XVI say is this simple phrase: “There is only one pope, and it is Francis, while I am no longer pope and I no longer have anything to do with the papacy.”
But Benedict XVI did not say this to Corriere, nor has he said it to anyone else for the past eight years. If he said it, new questions would arise, which perhaps Corriere, reasoning journalistically, could have asked him on this occasion (but it was very careful not to do so).
I will try to formulate them:
-Why do you wear white and why are you called “Holy Father Benedict XVI” if there is only one pope?
-Why are you officially called “pope emeritus” if there is no juridical or theological definition of such a title?
-Why do you still give the Apostolic Blessing (or the Papal Blessing), which is a prerogative of the pope (to which a plenary indulgence is attached)?
After all, some people have noted that in some of his recent books are signed “Benedict PP XVI,” with the initials “PP” (Pastor Pastorum), which is the title reserved for the pope. Furthermore, in public ceremonies in which the pope emeritus has participated, some cardinals have bowed down to him and kissed his ring, which they should have done only with the pope.
Vatican journalist Saverio Gaeta has noted that “on Pope Bergoglio’s coat of arms the pallium is missing, while it is present on the coat of arms of Pope Ratzinger: an element that in Vatican symbology is decidedly not negligible.
What do these and other similar things mean?
An Irrevocable “Munus”
In his final public audience on February 27, 2013, Benedict XVI declared his “forever”: “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.”
Therefore, the Petrine “munus” remains. And all of this was confirmed, with a wealth of arguments, in the sensational address given on May 21, 2016, at the Gregorian University by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is somewhat the public voice of the pope emeritus, when he said: “He has not abandoned the office of Peter – something which would have been completely impossible following his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.”
Thus the concept of an “irrevocable” Petrine ministry returns. Archbishop Gänswein went on to explain:
“Both before and after his resignation, Benedict intended and still intends his task as participation in such a “Petrine ministry.” He has left the Papal Throne, and yet, with the step taken on February 11, 2013, he has by no means abandoned this ministry. He has instead integrated the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a shared ministry. […] Thus, there are not two popes, but de facto an enlarged ministry – with an active member and a contemplative member. For this reason, Benedict XVI has not renounced either his name, nor the white cassock. For this reason, the correct title with which to address him today is still “Your Holiness;” and for this reason, moreover, he did not retire to an isolated monastery but remains inside the Vatican.”
TIME WILL REVEAL
On May 28, 2014, Vittorio Messori, a great expert on Church matters, published an article which Corriere della sera headlined as follows: “Ratzinger has not retired to a private life. This is why we truly have two popes.”
Messori knows better than anyone else that, theologically speaking, there can only be one pope, but there are things which we will know only in the future. Archbishop Gänswein, in his 2016 address, evoked the Schmittian category of the “state of exception” and spoke of a “pontificate of exception” to define the situation of Benedict XVI since February 11, 2013.
So it’s true: there is only one pope. Time will tell which one. In the history of the Church there have been some who were considered popes during their reign and even afterwards, but – later – the Church recognized that they were not. We’ll see.
First published in Italian at Libero, 2 March 2021
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