Archbishops Don’t Make Doctrine In Press Conferences
From a reader, after yesterday’s blog post:
Then I thought that maybe because PB intended the weird “bifurcated papacy” a dual papacy never before done in papal history, that someone might care enough to follow up on it, but we find that we are back in the same place.
The thing always comes down to numbers. If 300 Cardinals declared “heretic!”, he’d be gone already, back Buenos Aires gumming things up again. But we have perhaps, 5?
Is that enough? How many manly Cardinals do you need? We are alarmingly short on manly anything.
Can 1 manly, faithful Cardinal declare heresy and depose him? It doesn’t seem likely, but I don’t know anything. I have a feeling that if that were the case, Vigano would have already done it. But our one man had to go into hiding and toss darts from behind a tree.
Perhaps it is the right day to shed some light on this.
1. Benedict never wanted to bifurcate the papacy. Benedict never said that two people now share the power of the office. He never said that two Popes are in charge. Understand that Benedict is deeply embedded in the Italian culture and he simply wanted to avoid what every Italian would think of him on his abdication:
che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto
“The one who, out of cowardice, made the great refusal”. This is, as every Italian child knows, Celestine V, though Dante never said so explicitly.
That’s it. That’s all there is. He is saying, as he has abundantly declared, “I do not abdicate out of cowardice. I do not throw away the honour of having been elected Pope. I merely want to retire because my forces are not sufficient anymore”.
Also: the title he chose, and therefore the thinking he used, is well-known to every better educated Italian. In Italy, every university Professor is called, upon retirement, “Professore Emerito”.
This is meant to mean exactly what Benedict stated: the professor is not in charge anymore, but the honour of the position remains with him forever, it stays with him for life.
No one thinks he still has the job.
The words and the concept are elementarily clear to every Italian, and Ratzinger has lived there for the better part of his life. It is clear enough what he wanted to say. The rest is fluff.
You might say that this is a very cerebral way of doing things, and that the man is making the affair unnecessarily complicated. Well you know what? The man is cerebral, he is complicated. Always was.
2. It never ceases to amaze me that a power hungry archbishop gives a press conference and puts in the mouth of the Pope something he never said, and suddenly it becomes Catechism for the entire planet. Gaenswein was obviously making a power play, stating that he wants his voice to have more importance.
Who the heck is Gaenswein? Can he formulate some new doctrine? Heck, not even Benedict could formulate a new doctrine of the Papacy! Can we please stop fishing for interviews and press conferences to try to invent abstruse arguments about something that was never stated?
3. One Cardinal could not declare a Pope heretic and validly depose him. Athanasius ignored Honorius and refused to give him obedience, but he never deposed him. There would have to be a number of Cardinals that make the exercise such that they can say that they legitimately represent the Church. How many is that? Let the cardinals come out and the faithful will be able to gauge whom they represent. But it certainly can’t be one, or two, or three. It would need to be more than individual dissent, however right. It would be a revolt against heresy from the inside of the Church.
4. Vigano’ is not a Cardinal, he is an Archbishop. Bishops can certainly depose a Pope. But again, they would have to be many, certainly more than, say, one or two dozen Cardinals. They would have to be enough in number that they can believably present themselves as the protectors of Catholicism. They would, methinks, have to be supported by a number of believable, sound Catholic theologians. They would likely have to be sponsored by at least one Government, both paying for the substantial expenses of an imperfect council and giving the Bishops the relevant structures, buildings, administration staff, permanence and visibility. Poland, or Hungary, or even Italy come to mind. The theologians who defied John XXII clearly had the Crown of France behind them.
It is important that bishops and cardinals speak out. The Lord will do the rest in due time. When the time is right, we will discover that Providence has arranged for the means and the ways. It is not for us to state a number, or the criteria to make things sufficient to depose a Pope. It is not possible or expedient to say in abstract “we need at least 15% of the living cardinals representing all Continents”, or stuff like that. We need to trust that, when a challenge is mounted, true Catholics will easily recognise whether it is the true expression of the Church or not.
But it must start from someone. It must start from someone like Athanasius, who does what is right because it is right, not because he knows it will succeed.
Where is our Athanasius? I don’t see him anywhere.
We need to pray harder for one.