Fr. David Hewko Misses Crucial Distinction regarding “Resignation” of Pope Benedict XVI

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, “… 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

“I See the Holy Father in Great Anguish…..”

“I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies. I see that the false Church of darkness is making progress and I see the dreadful influence it has on the people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God night and day..…”
(Anne Catherine Emmerich, August 10, 1820)

Administrator of The Catacombs Forum Chimes in on “Benedict Is the True Pope”

In this post on a thread regarding the validity of Novus Ordo ordinations, the Administrator (hereon Admin for short) of The Catacombs Forum made a remark that seemed out of touch with the topic at hand, so I asked for clarification in this post.  The Admin responded to me in this post (see also screenshot at the bottom of this article).  However, before responding to me, the Admin informed me privately that the subject of Benedict XVI still being pope would not be allowed to be discussed on the forum.  Here is the reason based on what the Admin wrote in the response post:

“P.S. Some of you are aware that The Catacombs does not permit debates on Sedevacantism. It is widely and frequently debated elsewhere but here, we simply follow the line of Archbishop Lefebvre. The Resignationist opinion is also not up for debate here. As mentioned above, it ultimately and logically leads to sedevacantism. The Church will speak on both issues once a good pope is on the Throne of St. Peter and dispel the mist of confusion over these issues. May Our sweet Mother hasten that day!”

So, according to the Admin, the position that Benedict XVI is still pope ultimately and logically leads to Sedevacantism.  This is incorrect.  It does not logically lead to Sedevacantism; rather, if Pope Benedict XVI ends up dying with most of the Catholic world still accepting Jorge Bergoglio as pope, as they do now, then the Chair of Peter would, as a matter of fact, become empty.  This hypothetical outcome would be only accidentally related to the classical definition of “Sedevacantism”.  That accidental relationship would consist of both Sedevacantists and “Resignationists” (as termed by the Admin) holding that the Chair of Peter is empty; that’s it.  The same accidental relationship occurred between Sedevacantists and the rest of the world at the period of time between the death of Pope John Paul II and election of Pope Benedict XVI.  Therefore, the Admin is wrong to prevent debate on The Catacombs Forum on the false conclusion that the “Resignationist” position logically leads to Sedevacantism.

As a result of the false conclusion derived by the Admin, the Admin cannot resort to using Archbishop Lefebvre in defense of the Admin’s position.  The position that Benedict XVI is still pope is simply a matter of canon law and of fact.  What happens in the future is in God’s Hands, but we cannot overlook canon law and fact because of what may happen in the future.  Now canon law requires that for a pope to validly resign, he must resign his office.  Pope Benedict XVI did not resign his office.  Therefore, he is pope.  I have demonstrated this in my paper.

Both the Admin and I agree that Benedict XVI was elected pope in 2005.  However, the Admin today states that Jorge Bergoglio is pope, whereas I today state that Benedict XVI is pope.  Since the Admin has changed positions:

I challenge the Admin of The Catacombs Forum to justify the change in position.

Are you, Admin, up for that challenge?  And will you allow me to rebut any response from you on The Catacombs Forum?  After all, that’s what forums are mainly for.

St. Francis of Assisi and His Prophecy of a Non-Canonically Elected “Pope”

Source (pp. 248 to 250)

Is not this prophecy so indicative of the current state of the Church?  It is so sad that the “elect” of the Catholic Resistance holds Jorge Bergoglio as pope thereby keeping priests and faithful in a material schism.  May their blindness be removed and may they come to the truth that Benedict XVI is the true pope.

Ratzinger: “The Petrine Ministry…..”

“The Petrine ministry…while preserving its substance as a divine institution, can find expressions in various ways according to the different circumstances of time and place.” – Cardinal Ratzinger (as Prefect of the CDF), Communionis Notio, 28 May 1992, p.18.

Ratzinger: “The Petrine ministry…while preserving its substance as a divine institution, can find expressions in various ways according to the different circumstances of time and place.”

“At this moment in the Church’s life, the question of the primacy of Peter and of his Successors has exceptional importance as well as ecumenical significance. John Paul II has frequently spoken of this, particularly in the Encyclical Ut unum sint, in which he extended an invitation especially to pastors and theologians to “find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation”…

“The pilgrim Church, in its sacraments and institutions, which belong to this age, carries the mark of this world which is passing”. For this reason too, the immutable nature of the primacy of Peter’s Successor has historically been expressed in different forms of exercise appropriate to the situation of a pilgrim Church in this changing world…The Holy Spirit helps the Church to recognize this necessity, and the Roman Pontiff, by listening to the Spirit’s voice in the Churches, looks for the answer and offers it when and how he considers it appropriate.

“Consequently, the nucleus of the doctrine of faith concerning the competencies of the primacy cannot be determined by looking for the least number of functions exercised historically. Therefore, the fact that a particular task has been carried out by the primacy in a certain era does not mean by itself that this task should necessarily be reserved always to the Roman Pontiff…

“In any case, it is essential to state that discerning whether the possible ways of exercising the Petrine ministry correspond to its nature is a discernment to be made in Ecclesia, i.e., with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and in fraternal dialogue between the Roman Pontiff and the other Bishops, according to the Church’s concrete needs. But, at the same time, it is clear that only the Pope (or the Pope with an Ecumenical Council) has, as the Successor of Peter, the authority and the competence to say the last word on the ways to exercise his pastoral ministry in the universal Church.”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,Prefect, CDF, Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church (published in L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 18 November 1998, pages 5-6).

Pope Benedict XVI’s “Resignation” in Light of the 1917 Code of Canon Law

Ever since I went public regarding my position that Benedict XVI is the true pope, a few people have complained that my use of the 1983 Code of Canon Law should be of concern because it weakens my argument in that the 1983 Code is the fruit of Vatican II.  What these people have failed to fully comprehend is that the 1983 Code of Canon Law is the current legislation of the Catholic Church despite the fact that it does contain some bad canons.  It was promulgated by Pope John Paul II, who they and I accept was a true pope, and therefore had the right to promulgate a new code.  It is the legislation that was in effect when Pope Benedict XVI allegedly resigned from the papacy.  Therefore, it only makes sense that the validity of the “resignation” be tested against the 1983 Code.  Nevertheless, I have decided to take on the challenge to test the validity of the “resignation” against the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Since I don’t have a full English version of the 1917 Code, I will rely on “A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law” by Dom Charles Augustine, O.S.B., professor of Canon Law.  In Volume II (this is the only volume I will use throughout this article) of his work, Dom Charles Augustine explains those canons regarding the clergy and the hierarchy.  The first canon we will look at is Canon 145, which deals with the definition of “ecclesiastical office”:

Can. 145 – §1. Officium ecclesiasticum lato sensu est quodlibet munus quod in spiritualem finem legitime exercetur; stricto autem sensu est munus ordinatione sive divina sive ecclesiastica stabiliter constitutum, ad normam sacrorum canonum conferendum, aliquam saltem secumferens participationem ecclesiasticae potestatis sive ordinis sive iurisdictionis.

§2. In iure officium ecclesiasticum accipitur stricto sensu, nisi aliud ex contextu sermonis appareat.[1]

Can. 145 – §1. Ecclesiastical office in the wide sense is any responsibility exercised legitimately for a spiritual end; in the strict sense, however, it is a divinely or ecclesiastically ordered responsibility, constituted in a stable manner, conferred according to the norms of the sacred canons, entailing at least some participation in ecclesiastical power, whether of orders or of jurisdiction.

§2. In law, ecclesiastical office is taken in the strict sense, unless it appears otherwise from the context of the words.[2]

As with the 1983 Code, the 1917 Code contains the term “munus” in the very definition of “officium ecclesiasticum” (ecclesiastical office).[3]

Dom Charles Augustine, on page 102, states the following:

“An ecclesiastical office must convey ecclesiastical power.”

Remember that a power belongs to an office, cannot be separated from that office, and is exercised in virtue of that office.  The power of an office (and its corresponding exercise), however, can be delegated to another.  Nevertheless, he who occupies that office rightly possesses that power and may therefore withdraw it from the delegate.

On page 170, which begins “Title V:  Ordinary and Delegated Power”, Dom Charles Augustine states the following regarding Canon 196:

“…..the natural foundation and end of every office (is) the power of jurisdiction.”

In regards to Canon 199, Dom Charles Augustine states on page 175 (italics in original):

“The Pope may delegate his power of jurisdiction wholly or partially to another, except in certain matters.”

The pope would not, for example, be able to delegate his power of jurisdiction to define a matter of Faith or Morals.

On page 207, which begins “Title VII:  The Supreme Power”, and the subsequent pages, Dom Charles Augustine explains Canons 218 to 221, which directly concern the Roman Pontiff.  Here are some of the points that he makes (italics in original; bold mine):

“The Roman Pontiff, lawfully elected, obtains by divine right full power of supreme jurisdiction at the moment when he accepts office…..

“If the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, the resignation is valid without its acceptance by the cardinals or any one else…..

“It (the pope’s jurisdiction) is the plentitude of power, because it comprises all and every power needed for the attainment of the end for which the Church was founded.  Therefore (a) all matters of faith and morals are subject to this power by reason of the infallible magisterium; (b) the whole ecclesiastical administration belongs to it in virtue of the sacred ministerium; (c) the whole government of the Church may be claimed by the Pope by reason of the full and undivided imperium…..

“This power (of jurisdiction)… imparted through and with the office of the successor of St. Peter and rests with him as long as he holds that office, from the moment he accepts the lawfully performed election until his death or resignation.”

The key points, then, related to Pope Benedict XVI’s alleged resignation are:

1.  An ecclesiastical office is a munus.
2.  An ecclesiastical office conveys the power of jurisdiction.
3.  The power of jurisdiction (and its corresponding exercise) may be delegated in whole or part, but the right to that power always remains with an office.
4.  The jurisdictional power of the pope contains that which is needed for the attainment of the end for which the Church was founded, namely the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
6.  The jurisdictional power of the pope gives him the right to exercise the sacred ministerium[4] for the attainment of the end for which the Church was founded.
7.  When a pope resigns, it is his office that he must resign.  Otherwise, the resignation does not take place.
8.  Pope Benedict XVI renounced his ministerium and not his munus.  Therefore, he remains pope.
9.  In effect, Pope Benedict XVI delegated that part of his power of jurisdiction that permits the delegate to exercise the sacred ministerium.

In conclusion, the 1983 Code of Canon Law is consonant with the 1917 Code of Canon Law in regards to an ecclesiastical office, its power of jurisdiction, the exercise of that jurisdiction (which includes the sacred ministerium), and papal resignation.  Therefore, the use of either Code shows that Benedict XVI’s renunciation of the ministerium does not renounce the office; he remains pope.


[2] Peters, Edward N. The 1917 or Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law: In English Translation with Extensive Scholarly Apparatus. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001.p.72

[3] Remember that the key argument of my paper was that Pope Benedict renounced his “ministerium” (ministry) and not his “munus” (office).  Since Canon 332 §2 of the 1983 Code requires the renunciation of the “munus”, Benedict XVI remains pope.

[4] The following is what Fr. E. Sylvester Berry teaches about the “Apostolic Ministry” on pages 9 and 10 of “The Church of Christ:  An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise” (Wipf and Stock Publishers’ Edition):

“The founder of a society need only formulate the necessary plans and authorize suitable persons to put them into execution.  Christ did this in regard to the Church, when he instituted the Apostolic ministry, sending forth the Apostles with authority to teach, govern, and sanctify, and obliged all men to submit to their threefold authority.”

So given everything that was said in this article and my previous paper, the Apostolic office conveys the power; the power is exercised via the ministry; the ministry is exercised for the sake of the glory of God and salvation of souls.  Hence, the office and ministry are distinguished, and it is only through the resignation of the office that all is relinquished.