The “Siri Thesis” is the conjecture that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, the relatively orthodox Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, Italy, was actually elected the Pope in the Conclave of ARSH 1958 after the death of Pope Pius XII, and thus remained the “hidden Pope” until his death in ARSH 1989.
I DO NOT believe this happened – but I do think that it is possible that Cardinal Siri won a ballot in the conclave of ARSH 1958, AND DECLINED TO ACCEPT THE PAPACY.
As we have covered in this space before in a guest post by Mr. Mark Docherty, the Papacy is bestowed upon a man, elected by the College of Cardinals, SOLELY AND DIRECTLY BY CHRIST WITHOUT INTERMEDIARY when and ONLY WHEN the man ASSENTS. The Papacy is NOT bestowed upon a man by the College of Cardinals, nor even by the Church Herself. So, even if a man wins a ballot, if he declines – FOR WHATEVER REASON, EVEN COERCION – Christ DOES NOT AND WILL NOT force-bestow the Papacy on anyone, ever. Makes total sense, right? God is a Gentleman, AND the best Human Resources Manager ever. For Christ to bestow the Papacy on a man who does not assent – FOR ANY REASON – would yield chaotic madness. Chaos is of the devil. Order and rationality are of God.
Cardinal Siri was an orthodox prelate – as it turns out, one of the last – and he never, ever gave ANY public indication of any kind that he was the Pope. Consider for a moment what it would mean, both about Cardinal Siri’s personal character and morality AND about the VISIBILITY of the Church, which includes AT HER EARTHLY HEAD, if Cardinal Siri had, until his dying breath, engaged in a massive deception, resulting in multiple Antipapacies AND a vacant See after his death in ARSH 1989. Sorry, but it is a terrible insult to Cardinal Siri to think that he would have done such a thing. Such a willful deception would be intrinsically wicked, devoid of ANY pastoral concern for the faithful.
So what about Pope Benedict Ratzinger? Isn’t this situation very similar? NO. IT IS NOT SIMILAR AT ALL.
Pope Benedict XVI is in SUBSTANTIAL ERROR about the canonical validity of his attempted partial abdication in February of ARSH 2013. He apparently mistakenly thinks that what he did in attempting to only partially quit “the active governance of the Church”, “fundamentally transforming” the Papacy into a “collegial, synodal, shared ministry” was “in bounds”, and even in the best interests of the Church. Yeah – I know. I’m shaking my head, too. Hey, he has earned the title “worst Pope ever” for what he has done, fair and square.
Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI has remained TOTALLY VISIBLE AS THE POPE, retaining the dress, title, style (His Holiness), residence inside the Vatican, and even still gives the Apostolic Blessing specifically using the possessive pronoun “MY” – “My Apostolic Blessing”.
This is “God writing straight with crooked lines” in making sure that even in Pope Benedict’s ERROR, he is still, quite stunningly, VISIBLE TO ALL THE WORLD AS THE POPE. Pope Benedict XVI asked Cardinal Brandmuller in a letter a couple of years ago, “What would you have me do differently?” with regards to his post-February ARSH 2013 actions. The answer, IF Pope Benedict’s resignation had actually been VALID, is EVERYTHING. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. Pope Benedict has done EVERYTHING exactly the OPPOSITE of ALL past precedent regarding valid Papal resignations. This is nothing less than the Divine Providence lighting this circus up like the Las Vegas Strip.
The Divine Providence, in His Goodness and Perfection, would have it no other way, since VISIBILITY of the Church, including at her earthly head, is the synthesis of the Four Marks of the Church – One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. God LOVES us. God isn’t a ginormous jerk who is trying to trick us and give us the shake. Quite the opposite. He is “bending over backwards” in this totally bizarre and unprecedented situation to not just leave a trail of breadcrumbs, but to illuminate the trail with the Light of His Truth and Goodness.
I never cease to be amazed by the POWER of the Divine Providence. God does WHAT He wants, WHEN He wants, WITH WHOM He wants – while always respecting the free will of every human being, which is the absolute mind-blower. We know intellectually what the word “omnipotent” means, but… whoa. When you see it manifest, it rocks you.
So, bottom line, no, absolutely not, I do not believe that Cardinal Siri was ever Pope, although I think it possible that he could have won a ballot and declined, even possibly under nefarious pressure. Winning a ballot does NOT make a man the Pope. ASSENTING makes a man the Pope, with the Office bestowed DIRECTLY and without INTERMEDIARY by Jesus Christ Himself. To argue that Our Lord would bestow the papacy upon a man saying “NO!” for any reason is essentially to deny that man has free will, and assert that God Himself is an irrational, loveless bully (sounds kinda like “allah”, doesn’t it?)
Pray for Pope Benedict, still reigning whether he likes it or not, and for the Papacy, and for Holy Mother Church, spotless, indefectible, immutable and VISIBLE, outside of which there is no salvation. Don’t forget to enjoin St. Michael the Archangel, protector of the Petrine Office AND guardian angel of the Sovereign Pontiff!
I hope this helps!
Here is the closing of the ARSH 2017 letter from Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger to Cardinal Brandmuller that leaked a while back.
“Let us pray, as you did at the end of your letter, that the Lord comes to the rescue of His Church. I bless with my apostolic blessing,
Mit meinem apostolischen Segen bin ich….