“THAT WAY MADNESS LIES” — King Lear
In the current issue of “The Remnant” there is another article that never should have seen print. It is an article that will lead many readers into confusion and may lead some right out of the Church.
And it’s an article that suggests that “The Remnant” is heading over a cliff.
The article is titled “In a Papal ‘Diarchy’ Which Half Is Infallible?” The writer is Robert J. Siscoe. His topic is a study by Stefano Violi, a professor of canon law, who argues that Pope Benedict did not intend to renounce the whole papal office but only its administrative aspects. Benedict’s intent “was essentially to split the papacy in two, thereby transforming the papal monarchy into a papal diarchy.”
Siscoe quotes Italian journalist Vittorio Messori’s take on Violi’s argument: “Benedict did not intend to renounce the munus petrinus, or the office, or the duties. . . . The Pope intended to renounce only the ministerium, which is the exercise and concrete administration of that office.”
After all, Benedict explained that he was tired and no longer felt he had the strength to fulfill his papal duties well.
Siscoe says that, if Violi “is correct, Pope Benedict did not intend to fully renounce the papal office, but only a portion of the exercise thereof. . . . This novel act of Pope Benedict would explain why he has retained the papal coat of arms, continues to wear the white cassock, and, rather than returning to his pre-papal name Cardinal Ratzinger, has chosen the title ‘His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus.’”
Siscoe then quotes another Italian journalist, Antonio Socci, who says: “Ratzinger dresses like a pope because ‘he is’ pope.”
The consequence of all this, speculates Siscoe, is that Benedict “retains the charism of infallibility.” Such a charism can’t be divided between two men. Thus, if Benedict still has it, Francis doesn’t have it. This allows Siscoe and his colleagues at “The Remnant” to get around what for them has been an awkward situation: the recent canonizations.
Siscoe asks, “How could God have permitted the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II (whose public sins against the First Commandment are too many to list) when so many theologians have held that the canonization of saints is protected by infallibility?”
Not to worry, folks. If Francis doesn’t have the charism of infallibility, one can argue that his canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II didn’t “take.” They aren’t to be counted as saints but simply as two dead popes.
Of course, there are difficulties with the theory that “The Remnant” is pushing:
1. No theologian ever asserted that the papal office could be cut in two in this way.
2. No cardinal in the conclave understood himself to be giving only half the papal office to Francis.
3. If Benedict felt too tired to perform administrative duties and wanted to relieve himself of them and only of them, the logical thing would have been for him to devolve more of those duties onto the curia–which is precisely what the curia is for. There was no need for a “half pope.”
4. Benedict attended the canonization ceremony. He clearly endorsed what Francis was doing. He must have known that Francis had the charism of infallibility.
5. If the charism of infallibility lies with Benedict, what happens when he dies? If Francis doesn’t have the charism now, he won’t inherit it automatically on Benedict’s death. Will there have to be another conclave, to hand over to him (or to some other cardinal) the powers that Benedict retained?
The position argued by Siscoe and endorsed by “The Remnant” is madness. The chief reason it’s being pushed is that the staff members of that newspaper didn’t and don’t approve of John Paul II, against whom they wrote for years.
Their antipathy to that pope is leading them into theological nonsense, and it will lead some of their readers, and perhaps some of them, into further error.