Cardinal Ratzinger: Beneplenists are outside the Church

The following is a portion of a longer article that can be read here.

Cardinal Ratzinger: Beneplenists are Outside the Church

In 1998, Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict), as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, issued a commentary on the 1989 Professio fidei (Profession of Faith). In the commentary, the very man that Bugnolo thinks is the true Pope, explains that the legitimacy of a papal election (that the Church accepts as legitimate, as is the case with Pope Francis), must be held as de fide, based on the infallibility of the Church’s Magisterium. Ratzinger’s theology is consistent, of course, with that of Berry, Tanquery, Van Noort, John of St. Thomas, and every other theologian who has addressed the subject matter (we list 40 of them on our website at

The 1989 Professio fidei includes three categories of truths: (a) dogmas, (b) doctrines definitely taught by the Church (but not defined as formally revealed), and (c) doctrines taught authoritatively, but not definitively, by the Magisterium.  In his commentary, Cardinal Ratzinger explains the nature of assent that is owed to truths contained in each of the respective categories, and describes the consequences of failing to give the required assent. The legitimacy of a papal election falls into the second category, as a dogmatic fact.  Here is how Cardinal Ratzinger describes the second category of truths:

“The second proposition of the Professio fidei states: ‘I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.’

“The object taught by this formula includes all those teachings belonging to the dogmatic or moral area, which are necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith, even if they have not been proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as formally revealed. Such doctrines can be defined solemnly by the Roman Pontiff when he speaks 'ex cathedra' or by the College of Bishops gathered in council, or they can be taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church as a ‘sententia definitive tenenda’Every believer, therefore, is required to give firm and definitive assent to these truths, based on faith in the Holy Spirit's assistance to the Church's Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters.”

The commentary goes on to explain precisely what truths are contained in the second category and it includes the legitimacy of the election of a Pope:

“The truths belonging to this second paragraph can be of various natures, thus giving different qualities to their relationship with revelation. There are truths which are necessarily connected with revelation by virtue of an historical relationship [i.e., dogmatic facts]; (…) With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff…”

What is the consequence of denying a truth in the second category?  Cardinal Ratzinger explains:

“Whoever denies these truths [second category] would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine[1] and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

     So, according to the official commentary on the 1989 Profession of Faith, issued by Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, anyone who refuses to give a definitive assent to the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff is guilty of denying a Catholic doctrine, and therefore is no longer “in full communion with the Catholic Church” or, said differently, has cut himself off from the Church.

Needless to say, no exception is made for those who reject an election that the Church has accepted as legitimate, based upon their personal speculations of coerced resignations, irregular Conclaves, private interpretation of canon law, and the like. That is because the Church’s acceptance of the legitimacy of an election is an infallible act. If Magisterium accepts the election as legitimate, it must be definitely held as legitimate based on the infallibility of the Church.

Thus, Br. Bugnolo’s theory that Benedict’s abdication was not accepted by Christ because he used the wrong word (ministerium instead of munus), and his consequence rejection of the legitimacy of Francis’ election, is a rejection of what the Church has definitively proposed as a matter of faith, and which “is necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith.”

What Br. Bugnolo doesn’t understand is that just as Christ is the efficient cause that makes a man Pope by joining the form to the matter, so too is He the efficient cause of “unmaking” a man Pope, if he abdicates (by separating the form from the matter).  Christ is not restrained by human ecclesiastical law. No legal technicality can prevent Christ from disjoining a man from the Papacy, especially if the Pope in question convinced the entire Catholic world that he was resigning, and then sat idly by as a Conclave was convened and a new Pope was elected.  All of Bugnolo’s canonical arguments presuppose that Christ is constrained by human ecclesiastical law, and every one of them, which are intended to prove that Benedict’s abdication was not accepted by Christ, are proven to be false by the “fact” (dogmatic fact) that Francis’ election was accepted by the entire Church in the days, weeks, months that followed.

Francis is the Pope the Church deserved, and he’s the Pope the Church needed to wake up the sleeping faithful. And they are now awake.  Just look at the vile reaction to the recent Pachamama scandal, and compare it to the non-reaction of sorts to John Paul II’s 1986 Assisi prayer meeting - which was an even graver scandal and sacrilege.   

[1] John Paul II, Motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem (May 18, 1998).