Question: Pope Benedict specifically said in his official resignation statement that a conclave would have to be called to elect his successor. How do you reconcile your position to this fact?
Answer: Great question, and the clear answer lies in Pope Benedict’s “final audience” speech of 27 February, ARSH 2013. Let’s look:
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. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. I was able to experience, and I experience it even now, that one receives one’s life precisely when one gives it away. Earlier I said that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and feel great affection for him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.
The “always” is also a “for-ever” – 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. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the POWER OF OFFICE FOR THE **GOVERNANCE** OF THE CHURCH, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God.
Pope Benedict, as we have seen from the mountain of evidence from the Teutonic theological academy of the mid-late 20th century (and there is more to come in this space…), was very much of the mind that the Papacy had to be transformed, demythologized and that its monarchical structure was no longer applicable to the “modern, democratized world”. As obviously erroneous as this sounds, Ratzinger was actually the relative “arch-conservative” in the Teutonic academia, and defended the Papacy against the notion of total abolition being aggressively pushed by the likes of Hans Kung and Johannes Neumann, among many others.
So, given not only the decades of academic literature on the topic of the distinction between and desired splitting of the Petrine Office from the Petrine Ministry, much of which Ratzinger himself edited, but most importantly Pope Benedict’s words on 27 February ARSH 2013, that he was resigning from the “active exercise of the ministry” “for the governance of the Church”, it is clear that his call for a conclave and election of his “successor” was his SUCCESSOR AS THE ACTIVE, GOVERNING MEMBER of the now “fundamentally transformed”, “expanded”, “collegial, synodal” Petrine Ministry.
And as we shall soon see, not only did Pope Benedict intend to remain the prayerful, contemplative, HUMILIATED Pope, but he actually believes himself to be the superior member of the “synodal” Papacy – the UBERPOPE, if you will.
It’s all error, obviously. One aspect of the Petrine Ministry can not delegated to a “co-Pope”. There is only one Pope at a time, and he and he ALONE as the SOLE, LIVING HOLDER of the Petrine Office has the OPTION of exercising the Petrine Ministry – or NOT exercising it, as he sees fit, or in the case of incapacity, all ministerial function can be necessarily suspended. A Pope in a coma can not exercise any aspect of the Petrine Ministry, but retains the Office in toto. Remember, OFFICE = BEING something. MINISTRY = DOING something. Totally different categories, totally different terms. Words have meaning.
The Pope CAN NOT delegate any portion of the Petrine Office to anyone else, because that would constitute a fundamental transformation of the Petrine Office (bifurcation, expansion, any non-MONarchical form). The Papacy is immutable because it was established by Christ Himself. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam Meam.
And that’s why Pope Benedict’s attempted abdication in February ARSH 2013 was invalid, and thus per Canon Law, he retained the Papacy whole and entire. The See was not vacant, and thus it was ontologically and legally impossible for the Cardinals to call a valid conclave, much less elect a Pope. It was all null per Canon Law and common sense.
I hope this helps.