Canon 332 tells us why. “If it happens,” the canon says, “that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested.” If the pope resigns under the pressure of a public campaign in the media, he does not act freely. Consequently the resignation is not valid. Consequently any one elected by a conclave is an antipope.
Remember when a number of reactionaries claimed that Benedict XVI’s resignation was not valid because of private pressure? I do. Fake Site News was eager to promote such claims. Benedict, Fake Site reported, resigned because of “tremendous pressure.” 1 Luther 5 also theorized in this vein; and Donald R. McClarey at Americanist Catholic even posited that the so-called “lavender mafia” was behind it. The gays were behind it. But this all took place in private.
So think about that. According to these sources—Fake Site News, 1 Vader 5, Americanist Catholic—Benedict’s resignation was invalid because of presumed pressure on him to resign in private.
But now reactionary Catholics—in the wake of Abp. Viganó’s long accusation that Pope Francis knew about McCarrick and covered it up, complete with his own demand that the Holy Father resign—are pressuring Pope Francis, quite out in the open. And Fake Site News and its reactionary compeers are busy at work promoting it all. Laura Ingraham calls for the pope to resign on Twitter, and Fake Site is instantly on it.
Fake Site had already posted a whack-job of an article by the wild reactionary Peter Kwasniewski; in it PK hissed venom at Pope Francis in practically every other sentence. The very balanced Kwasniewski bewails the pope’s “depravity and mendacity.” The pope is “full of disrespect” for “the limits of his office.” His homilies are “tortuous” and “doctrinally suspect.” He has an “uncatholic mind.” He gives “sloppy interviews.” (PK is just getting started.) The pope has “an agenda of secularization.” The synods were “papally rigged,” and Amoris Laetitia was their “spawn.” The pope “muddied the waters of Humanae Vitae. He is “ambivalent” in condemning homosexuality. He has a “flaccid commitment to justice.” Oh, and he’s “neither holy nor a father.” But Fake Site constantly insists that it is a very neutral and stable publication.
Meanwhile Church Petulant openly calls for Pope Francis to resign. (Note how the ad below its video is an open plea for financial help as Church Petulant “prepares for war.”)
Well, you must be consistent. If you think Pope Benedict’s resignation was invalid due to hypothetical pressure some cabal exerted on him in private, then manifest pressure upon Pope Francis in public would certainly make his invalid. It is at the least hypocritical that the very people who, once upon a time, speculated that B16’s resignation was invalid due to private pressure, would now turn around and promote public pressure for Pope Francis’s resignation.
I don’t know if Viganó’s accusations are true or not. I have many reasons to be skeptical, but that is not the point of this post. We should know the truth, whatever it is. And for that reason, I have a very low view of Bishop Morlino’s effort to poison the well against the press by denying their “professional maturity.” It is as though he means to say: Now, the press, you can’t believe anything that they’re going to tell you. They’re fake news. You must believe us, we have the “canonical procedures” to investigate these things internally, and so on. And all at the very time when nothing has been more surely proven than that the Church has tried to sweep this under the rug for decades and has not been handling it properly. Even Viganó is guilty of it, and he wants to deflect attention to Pope Francis? I’m not buying it, Morlino.
If Viganó is not telling the truth, then this is obviously a coup against the pope. He is using the victims—not seeking justice for them, but using them—in an attempt to replace the pope with someone more to his own liking. Possibly himself. I tell you, we must really be sure we know the facts here. This is dangerous business.
But if Viganó is telling the truth, then putting canonically invalid pressure on the pope to resign achieves a schism. It achieves a sede vacante. That solves…what? If you’re going to put pressure on the pope, put pressure on him to finally do something about this crisis. After all, the pope has already forced Cardinal McCarrick to resign. He has already accepted resignations from bishops in Chile. He has shown he is willing to take action; and if pressuring him to go much further is necessary, then do that. But don’t pressure the pope alone. Pressure all the other many other bishops and cardinals who have covered up this evil, including Viganó himself.
But I can’t see how an invalid resignation—a schism, a sede vacante, the election of an antipope—solves the problem. It only creates a huge one on top of the one we already have.