In the two sermons below, Fr. David Hewko states that Pope Benedict XVI resigned. What Fr. Hewko fails to do is to distinguish between the renunciation of the office (munus) and the renunciation of the ministry (ministerium). Pope Benedict XVI renounced the ministry and not the office. This failure to distinguish keeps Fr. Hewko (and the faithful that listen to him) in the grave error that Benedict XVI is no longer the pope.
Let’s take a look again at the relevant parts of the Declaratio1, the official juridical act, of Pope Benedict XVI:
“Having explored my conscience again and again before the Lord, I have arrived at certain recognition that with my advancing age my strengths are no longer apt for equitably administering the Petrine Office [munus Petrinum].”2
Note above that Pope Benedict XVI uses the term “Office”.
“I am well aware that this office [munus], according to its spiritual essence, ought to be exercised not only by acting and speaking, but no less than by suffering and praying.”3
Note above that Pope Benedict XVI again uses the term “office”. He states that the office, according to its spiritual essence, ought to be exercised not only by acting and speaking (active exercise), but also by suffering and praying (passive exercise).
“Moreover, in the world of our time, subjected to rapid changes and perturbed by questions of great weight for the life of faith, there is more necessary to steer the Barque of Saint Peter and to announce the Gospel a certain vigor, which in recent months has lessened in me in such a manner, that I should acknowledge my incapacity to administer well the ministry [ministerium] committed to me.”4
Now note above that Pope Benedict XVI speaks about the active exercise of the office in stating, “…..to steer the Barque of Saint Peter and to announce the Gospel.” This active exercise has lessened in him in such a manner that he should acknowledge his incapacity to administer well the ministry. It is clear here that Pope Benedict XVI associates the active exercise of the office with “ministry”.
Now read what Pope Benedict XVI actually renounces:
“On which account, well aware of the weightiness of this act, I declare in full liberty, that I renounce the ministry [ministerio] of the Bishop of Rome…..”5
Did you get that! Pope Benedict XVI renounces the ministry, the active exercise of the office; he does not renounce the office itself. If he wanted to renounce the office itself, he would have simply stated, “I renounce the office (munus) of the Bishop of Rome…..”, but HE DID NOT DO THAT! The office is analogous to the soul of the papacy, whereas the ministry is analogous to the exercise of the soul’s powers. Renouncing the office includes renouncing the ministry, but renouncing the ministry does not include renouncing the office. Therefore, Benedict XVI remains pope.
Fr. Hewko (and so many others) has to read the Declaratio carefully and follow the line of reasoning. With an honest read, he will come to the same conclusion that Benedict XVI is the true pope!6
- “Conscientia mea iterum atque iterum coram Deo explorata ad cognitionem certam perveni vires meas ingravescente aetate non iam aptas esse ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum.”
- “Bene conscius sum hoc munus secundum suam essentiam spiritualem non solum agendo et loquendo exsequi debere, sed non minus patiendo et orando.”
- “Attamen in mundo nostri temporis rapidis mutationibus subiecto et quaestionibus magni ponderis pro vita fidei perturbato ad navem Sancti Petri gubernandam et ad annuntiandum Evangelium etiam vigor quidam corporis et animae necessarius est, qui ultimis mensibus in me modo tali minuitur, ut incapacitatem meam ad ministerium mihi commissum bene administrandum agnoscere debeam.”
- “Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commisso renuntiare…..”
- For a more detailed look at this matter, see here and here.