I was cc’d this letter to Christopher Ferrara just now. It speaks for itself, and ever so eloquently. My thanks to the author. -AB
I don’t need to remind you, I hope, how much I have enjoyed your writing and various conversations with you over the years, even where we disagree. I’ve also had a few friendly disagreements with Ann over time.
I have hesitated for days to write this, but it won’t stop nagging at me, so I’ll nag you. I strongly suspect Ann is exactly right about Benedict still being Pope. I have strongly suspected it since the first time she said it; her argument rings true. It was cogent and clear from the start, highly compelling, and – so far as I could tell – flawless in logic and supporting factual base. It has only gotten stronger over time as further corroboration comes in. What is more, every single Trad I have spoken with on the topic (admittedly only a few) as well as my local Novus Ordo priest, who doesn’t know us from Adam, believes it is true. It’s like being in the crowd in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
But of course Ann might be wrong. We all make mistakes.
If she is wrong, her argument deserves a point for point refutation in a very serious brief. It is the contrary opposite of some frivolous emotional argument predicated on revulsion for Bergoglio or something of the sort (understandable as that would be.) It is, at least facially, a rigorously rational argument and as such, worthy of real refutation on its merits, if it be nevertheless false or invalid.
But it is not of course the argument that deserves refutation; it is Ann, and it is those who find it compelling, like me. You are several others I love and admire keep insisting that she’s wrong, but I have yet to find someone who will actually explain why, exactly.
Instead you breezily proffered this, with no supporting authority: We have no competence to assemble “data sets” and declare that the Chair of Peter is vacant.
Just tactically, if you are in the right, this is devastating to your position. Forget about the failure to support it. This is much worse: it is impossible to have read anything Ann has written on the subject and conclude that she “declares” that “the Chair of Peter is vacant.” If you cannot even accurately characterize her central thesis, which she has howled aloud to the four winds for nearly 4 years now, it is impossible to take seriously anything you say by way of refutation.
In charity, I am sure you were just speaking carelessly, since I am wholly unwilling to ascribe bad faith to you, which is what would be in evidence if you said that after reflection. This suggests that you really have never bothered to look seriously at what she says, and are sort of just brushing it away as you would a pesky fly because you are assuming it’s just some kooky idea unworthy of attention. So I just want to add my voice asking you please to take it seriously and, if she is wrong, show us how. Show us exactly how, because it seems absolutely sound to me.