First Act vs. Second Act and the Renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI

In the following extract of a lecture, Patrick McCloskey, Doctor of Scholastic Philosophy, explains the difference between “first act” and “second act” in his discussion regarding “potency” and “act”.

“First act” is ”being”, whereas “second act” is “doing”.  What Pope Benedict XVI renounced is the “doing” of pope but not the “being” of pope.  Therefore, he remains pope.  Furthermore, the “powers” of the papacy belong to “first act”.  The “operation” of those powers belong to “second act”.  As an example, a baby in his mother’s womb is fully man and therefore has the power of reasoning.  However, the operation of the power of reasoning will not be actuated until he attains the age of reason.  Pope Benedict renounced the operation of the papal powers but not the powers themselves, which he ontologically could not do even if he intended to do unless he renounces the munus (being) of pope.

Here is a pictorial of the division.


“To Deceive the Elect: The Catholic Doctrine on the Question of a Heretical Pope” by Fr. Paul Kramer

I have finished reading Fr. Paul Kramer’s “To Deceive the Elect: The Catholic Doctrine on the Question of a Heretical Pope”.  It is a very enlightening ex​po​sé of the Catholic teaching on heresy and membership in the Church, whether a pope can be a formal heretic, and if it were possible for a pope to be a formal heretic, what can be done about it.  This book is NOT about proving that Jorge Bergoglio was not validly elected in 2013 and that Benedict XVI is still the true pope because of it.  Fr. Kramer does write about this matter in the Introduction, but it only forms a small part overall.  Therefore, those who disparage the content by saying, “Fr. Kramer needed 700 pages to prove that Jorge Bergoglio is not the pope,” show that they don’t know what they are talking about.  It shows they approach this book with bias even before reading it.  That is not exactly intellectual honesty.

There are three major theses that I took from this book:

1. All manifestly pertinacious heretics (including popes if it were possible that they could become such) visibly separate themselves from the Church by the nature of heresy, and not by any juridical act of ecclesiastical authority; and, as a direct consequence of being visibly severed from the body of the Church, they lose ipso facto by tacit renunciation whatever ecclesiastical office they may have held, without any declaration by the ecclesiastical authority.

This must be believed with Divine and Catholic Faith.

2. There does not exist, nor can there exist, even by way of exception, a jurisdiction on earth superior to the pope’s universal primacy of jurisdiction.  Consequently, no one on earth, not even the whole of the cardinals and bishops of the world, can judge a true pope, even for heresy, and depose him from the papal office.

This must be believed with Divine and Catholic Faith.

3. A true pope cannot fall into formal heresy, public or occult.

This must be believed as proximate to Faith.

In my opinion, no Catholic library should be without this book.  I have learned a lot from it.  I encourage readers to buy the book from The Servants of Jesus and Mary.


See here for theological notes.