Via NonVeniPacem, here is an open letter from a well-respected TLM priest in North America. He remains anonymous for now. Folks, I’ve been saying for a very long time that there are LOTS of faithful priests who were commemorating Benedict at the Te Igitur until his death on December 31, ARSH 2022, and now recognize that the Petrine See has been vacant these 272 days and counting. This letter is absolutely smack-dab on the money in every sense. May this be the first of MANY such letters. Please spread this aggressively to both priests and laity, and PLEASE pray for this priest, and for all priests. What a wonderful Michaelmas present! -AB
Upon his presentation to the waiting world on March 13th, 2013, ‘Pope Francis’ struck me with a disquieting impression. Seeing the man in white on the loggia of St. Peter’s that night hit me like an unexpected punch to the gut. Dear God, I whispered, a diabolical horror mocking Holy Church has just been thrown defiantly into the Face of Christ.
For more than ten years, I have sought to understand why I experienced such an unusual reaction that night, especially since I am not inclined to be shocked by the depth and breadth of human depravity and malice. There was something different here. I could not shake off the sense that Satan was attempting a decisive assault to mortally wound the Church and sweep more souls to eternal damnation.
Deserving mention for aiding my efforts to understand what has happened in the Church are priests and bishops, as well as intrepid and tenacious laity. Special mention goes to Miss Ann Barnhardt, Mr. Mark Docherty, and Dr. Edmund Mazza.
Endowed with all the means to fulfill her mission, the Catholic Church is able, with the divine assistance promised by Jesus Christ, to extricate herself from her current woes. Men steeled by faith, sustained by hope, and moved by charity for God and souls, need only heed what St. Joan of Arc commanded: “Act, and God will act!”
Of all the ills burdening the Church today, perhaps none is more damaging than the perversion of authority by its apparent possessors, who often divorce it from the service of goodness and divinely revealed truth. Without authority—an authority licitly wielded for the good of souls and the building up of the Church—the Church, in her living members, descends into chaos and confusion. Unless the authority vested by Christ in the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops is exercised, and exercised as Christ intends, it is replaced by a fraudulent version parading as the real thing, at worst a vicious deceiver and destroyer of the flock of Christ, a cruel and tyrannical cudgel to beat down the faithful striving to be good sons and daughters of the Church. Christ is not to be found where true authority is absent or where it is put to perverted use.
Today we witness and are all too often subjected to this perversion of authority. This abuse of authority renders null and void whatever is proposed or commanded. Yes, null and void, not worthy of our assent, cooperation, or obedience, but deserving our fitting rebuke and opposition.
I state my deep conviction regarding the problem of authority in the Church today fully aware that I am fallible. I am nonetheless grieved to see that many serious Catholics, who want to understand why their leaders are so deviant and delinquent, avoid what appears to be the proverbial elephant in the room. Notwithstanding whatever virtue and learning they might otherwise possess, they are unable to admit the possibility, let alone the reality, that ‘Francis’ is not the Successor of Peter and never has been. Perhaps such an evil is too blinding to gaze upon with eyes wide open.
It is my considered opinion that ‘Francis’ cannot be the reigning Sovereign Pontiff. Why not? Canon law. According to the law of the Church regarding the validity of juridical acts—a law from which the pope himself is not exempt—Pope Benedict XVI never validly resigned the papacy. Hence, no conclave could lawfully convene and elect his successor until his death.
The issue with ‘Francis’ which concerns me here is not his apparent lack of the Catholic Faith. I agree with others that he is ostensibly not Catholic by any reasonable measure. However, ‘Pope Francis’ is firstly a problem for the Church because he was never elected in a lawful conclave. Let me express it this way: the conclave of 2013 was a chimera and an unlawful exercise by the cardinals because Benedict XVI, failing to validly resign the papacy, remained the reigning Supreme Pontiff until his death on December 31st, 2022. The conclave of March 2013 was unlawful, and the man then elected is no pope at all. These are the indisputable conclusions drawn from the crystal-clear provisions of canon law.
Benedict’s desires, subjective state of mind, or his fanciful Teutonic theology of the Petrine primacy in no way validate so as to make operative the renunciation he announced on February 11th, 2013, and supposedly executed seventeen days later. His juridical act of resignation was invalid according to canon law itself, to whose particular relevant provisions he was bound, since he had not changed them, although he had the power to do so.
Benedict did not resign the papal office (munus), but renounced only its active exercise (ministerium). He did not give up being pope, but merely relinquished “doing pope,” if you will pardon the expression. Keep in mind that Benedict also retained the external signs, comportment and some actions proper to the pope alone until his death. He believed he could remain a pope still possessing his office (munus) and exalted station, while the active governance of the Church (ministerium) could at the same time pass to another man elected in conclave as a genuine pope. In short, he wrongly believed that the papacy could be shared and exercised by two popes at once. This is contrary to the divine constitution of the Church and the nature of the papacy established by Christ.
Given this grave and substantial error regarding the nature of the papal office, Benedict posited an act of resignation that was invalid, as canon law stipulates. He was attempting to commit himself to doing something impossible, thus rendering his act of resignation invalid. His act effected no resignation from office at all. His unique dignity as Supreme Pontiff remained as it had been before: the status quo ante held until his death.
Suppose for the sake of argument that ‘Francis’ were overtly Catholic and even a saint. He would still not be pope nor could he be, unless he were elected in a lawful conclave following the valid resignation or death of Benedict.
The near-universal acceptance of Francis as pope for ten-plus years by the members of the Church is not sufficient to validate his supposed claim to the papacy. Such an argument presupposes that he was elected in a lawful conclave, and he was not. This makes him since March 13th, 2013, until the present a usurper of the papal throne, an anti-pope.
To suggest that we have no way to solve the problem of ‘Francis’ but must endure him until the Church in the future judges his status and relationship to the Church Militant is an implicit denial of the Church’s ability as a perfect society to recognize the ills that afflict her and to remedy them for the good of souls. It is to deny her ability in our present circumstances to recognize in real time what I have just expounded above about Benedict and ‘Francis’.
Many observers of our current crisis in the Church would object to my assessment of ‘Francis’ as the anti-pope and usurper of the Roman See that he is as a violation of the principle that “[t]he first see is judged by no one.” In other words, the Roman See, precisely the Roman Pontiff, is to be judged by no one. This is to say that no one may lawfully render a juridical judgment against a reigning pope. I agree. I am not handing down a juridical judgment at all. Not one of us, myself included, can render a legal judgment against a reigning pope. None of us has the authority to do so; we are all subject to him. I am not hereby judging ‘Francis’ in the strict juridical sense. I am judging him according to the common, broader meaning of that term, that is, to evaluate, assess or discriminate. I am recognizing that the man, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is no pope at all. I arrive at this reasonable and logical conclusion based on observable facts and common sense in light of canon law.
Furthermore, those are not to be considered schismatic who reject ‘Francis’ for the reasons I have laid out above. Theologians make this clear. For example, the Spanish Jesuit theologian Francisco de Lugo (1580-1652) states: “Neither is someone a schismatic for denying his subjection to the Pontiff on the grounds that he has solidly founded [‘probabiliter’] doubts concerning the legitimacy of his election or his power [refers to Sanchez and Palao].” (Disp., De Virt. Fid. Div., disp xxv, sect iii, nn. 35-8). (Tip of the hat to Miss Ann Barnhardt.)
How can the problem of ‘Francis’ and his anti-papacy be solved on the practical level? It would seem necessary and reasonable for members of the hierarchy, especially the cardinals, to expose and explain to the Church the ecclesial reality since February 11, 2013, and to make clear the cardinals’ duty and intention to proceed to the election of a worthy successor to Pope Benedict by lawful conclave. While this appears utterly impossible and ridiculous at first glance given the current state of the hierarchy, we cannot forget how God and men have moved in concert in the past. Remember, it only takes one man to stand up and declare the truth to shake the foundations of a lying and tyrannical regime. Recall also Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. One boy from the crowd declared the truth: “The Emperor is not wearing anything at all.” At this, the crowd abandoned its collective fear and delusion, embracing the reality that the emperor was naked indeed. The Bergoglian house of cards cannot abide the full force of truth, no matter how few proclaim it. Nor can it survive if the ranks of the truth-tellers swell.
History proves that the Church can set things aright regarding her internal affairs, even though solutions have not been spelled out in detail by popes, theologians, canon lawyers, scholars or saints for all the various problems that can arise. We need only look at the actions of St. Bernard in the 12th century. He supported the lawful pope, Innocent II, against the anti-pope Anacletus II. The Roman population supported the anti-pope, but the saint eventually convinced them to give their allegiance to the rightful pope. The saint had no qualms about assessing the situation and taking action against the popular acceptance of an anti-pope. We can also note the unconventional healing of the Great Western Schism at the Council of Constance nearly 300 years later. In each case, we see that bold action was both possible and necessary on the part of human agents.
Perhaps the appeal to divine intervention as the only way out of our present impasse is but a shameful excuse for a kind of paralyzing despair or quietism that leaves the Bride of Christ naked to her enemies, scorned and humiliated, abandoned even by those who should be her friends and defenders. I would propose in response to such bystanders that divine intervention did occur in the resolution of past crises, but not independent of human cooperation. God intervened by moving generous and bold souls to action, and He was with them in all their efforts for the advancement of His kingdom. “Act, and God will act!”
Some voices now publicly proclaim that ‘Francis’ is not pope because he is a heretic and has excommunicated himself from the Mystical Body of Christ. Some of them assert that he may very well have never been fit for the Petrine office, believing he was a heretic at the time of his supposed election.
Others dispute this claim of automatic excommunication in light of the various distinctions that must be made between the internal dispositions of the man and his juridical status as pope. They presume, of course, that he had been participating as a rightful cardinal-elector in a lawful conclave. They say we must consider ‘Francis’ as pope until the Church formally judges the matter and declares the invalidity of his reign. By then, ‘Francis’ and the rest of us may be long dead. There is nothing to do while ‘Francis’ lives but to suffer and wait for some future official judgment from the Church.
Still others insist that it would be impossible to ever have a true pope who was at the same time a formal heretic. In other words, a formal heretic, manifest, public and pertinacious in his heresy, has never occupied the throne of Peter, nor could he. Otherwise, Christ’s promise to Peter to make him the “rock” upon which the Church is built and by whom his brethren are strengthened would be a lie. Impossible and blasphemous!
You see what a mess we are in today. We are attempting to slog through it while maintaining, please God, our sanity, our Catholic Faith, and the state of grace. We should all agree that we must at a minimum resist the evils of ‘Francis’ and distance ourselves from the harm he is inflicting on the Church. Beyond this, you may not agree with my conclusions, nor would I impose them on you. Do your own investigation of the matter. You may be surprised by what you find. Sadly, many refuse to investigate at all, even though they know something is foul and amiss with ‘Francis’. Perhaps they prefer a comfortable and dishonest ignorance. I do not know their motives, but I deplore their failure.
Each of us must do his best to understand and navigate the current crisis in order to please God and save his soul in the Barque of Peter. That requires a solid Catholic life, a commitment to prudence coupled with magnanimity and an unwavering trust in God. It requires a lively charity that seeks God above all and desires to draw all men, even the most ignorant, sinful and despicable, to a participation in the divine life here below and in the world to come.
Still something more is asked of us. It seems to me that until we seriously and thoroughly address Benedict’s actions and the Bergoglian terror unleashed in the Church, we will continue to be burdened by chaos, confusion, and division. ‘Francis’ ‘ usurpation and attempted destruction of the papacy must be recognized and denounced, as the man himself must be for his daring sacrilege. We must admit that Benedict remained pope until his death on December 31st, 2022.
My hope is that we may awaken fellow Catholics, most importantly members of the hierarchy who still possess the Catholic Faith, to help lift the Bride of Christ from the depths of her public humiliation and to relieve the misery of her bitter captivity. She is suffering at the hands of those who hate and despise her. Her enemies are no less Christ’s enemies. May we, with His help, expose and defeat them, so that His reign may advance in the minds and hearts of men and in the world presently ensnared in a mesh of monstrous lies. Let us accomplish what God asks of us, for His greater glory, for the triumph of His Church, and for the salvation of souls.