By: Cornelia Ferreira
Today, May 13, 2019 is the 102nd anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s first appearance at Fatima as recounted in the memoirs of Sr. Lucia; excerpts of which are contained in Fatima Newsletter Issue No. 5.
During this appearance, Our Lady speaks of the Rosary, Purgatory, and the need to accept our sufferings in order to make reparation for the sins against God and for the conversion of sinners. The children recite a profound prayer in praise of the Holy Trinity and the most Blessed Sacrament.
You may access the Newsletter HERE or by clicking on the image in the right sidebar. Please share Our Lady’s message far and wide.
First Things has published an article by Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap. wherein the former head of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine weighs-in on the Open Letter.
Readers may recall that Fr. Weinandy made news in October 2017 when he made public a three-page unanswered letter he had sent to Francis more than two months earlier criticizing him for the “chronic confusion [that] seems to mark [his] pontificate.”
Fr. Weinandy provided several examples in the letter, including the following:
In “Amoris Laetitia,” your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching.
Though Francis never did respond to Fr. Weinandy directly, he did take concrete steps to remove any and all ambiguity with respect to “a change in teaching” vis-a-vis Amoris Laetitia, including the following:
In December 2017, the Holy See announced that Francis had ordered that the infamous guidelines established by the bishops of Buenos Aires for the implementation of Amoris Laetitia be entered into the AAS, along with his own commentary stating “there are no other interpretations.” Francis also indicated, as the Holy See announced, that his intent is for these texts to be received by the faithful as “authentic magisterium.”
So much for ambiguity.
Fast forward to the present and Fr. Weinandy’s First Things article, wherein he criticizes the Open Letter, writing:
Undoubtedly, many of the statements Pope Francis has made are ambiguous, and therefore troubling—for they can be interpreted in both an orthodox and a heterodox manner…
The fact that Pope Francis articulates these positions in an ambiguous manner makes it almost impossible to accuse him rightly of heresy. (This is, in a sense, a saving grace.) Those who interpret his ambiguous teaching in a manner not in keeping with the Catholic faith may be heretical, but the pope is not, even if the pope appears to give silent approval to their erroneous interpretations.
One may reasonably wonder where Fr. Weinandy has been for the past year-and-a-half. Clearly, the “ambiguity” train left the station long ago, and riding in the first-class cabin are all claims of “silent approval” of grave error.
Remarkably, Fr. Weinandy even goes so far as to write:
What is most disconcerting is that erroneous interpretations, those contrary to the Church’s doctrinal and moral tradition, are often propounded by bishops and cardinals—those who want to implement misguided teaching within their dioceses and urge that they become the norm within their national jurisdictions.
Has he forgotten about the “misguided teaching” that Francis himself ordered into the AAS; guidelines that are most certainly “contrary to the Church’s doctrinal and moral tradition” and about which he said, “there are no other interpretations”?
Fr. Weinandy had more foolish things to say in his article, and you may torture yourself by reading them for yourself if you wish.
In conclusion, readers may recall that Fr, Weinandy, following the publication of his 2017 letter to Francis, was unceremoniously relieved of his position with the USCCB; a blatant act of retaliation against him for daring to exercise care for souls by addressing what he recognized as “the confusion and turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused.”
As his First Things article plainly suggests, Fr. Weinandy has learned his lesson.
And while it is a sad and frustrating spectacle indeed, let us thank the Good Lord for using the present crisis to lure the hirelings among us into the full light of day.
My previous post featured commentary on Jimmy Akin’s recent article refuting the accusations leveled against Francis in the much talked about Open Letter. In it, I asked Mr. Akin for clarification on several of the points he had raised, and he was kind enough to provide it in a follow-up article posted on his blog HERE. I encourage you to read it in its fullness there.
While so-called “traditionalists” (aka Catholics) have some valid reasons to disagree with him on certain points, bear in mind that Jimmy Akin didn’t write the definitions of “dogma” and “heresy” that he’s provided in his articles; he’s simply passing them on.
Let’s be honest, folks, post-conciliar Rome isn’t exactly in the Inquisition business. As such, no one can be surprised that the 1983 Code of Canon Law provides a definition of heresy (and likewise, dogma) that, in Akin’s own words, has a “very technical meaning.”
What may come as a surprise to readers is that a way forward – one that Jimmy Akin and the signatories of the Open Letter should be able to agree upon – can be found even in certain post-conciliar texts.
Mr. Akin writes:
The upshot is that, today, the word dogma is used for those truths that the Magisterium has infallibly defined to be divinely revealed. Heresy, then, is the obstinate, post-baptismal refusal to believe such a truth. However, the Magisterium sometimes infallibly defines a truth without defining that it is divinely revealed. In that case, it is an infallible doctrine but not a dogma. [Emphasis in original]
I have become to convinced that Mr. Akin has accurately presented the “very technical meaning” of the word “heresy.” He has also accurately described how dogma differs from other categories of doctrine; most notably those teachings that have been infallibly defined but not as divinely revealed.
With this distinction in mind, he went on to write:
…it seems to me that highly reputable theological minds today are being very careful about declaring something a dogma as opposed to an infallible teaching. Consequently, in cases of doubt, the prudent course would be to assume that something is merely an infallible teaching.
Fair enough. Let’s assume that the doctrines referenced in the Open Letter more properly involve merely infallible teachings. From here, I propose that all concerned take a small step back to focus on the reason why any of us are even having this discussion.
No serious Catholic thinker today, Jimmy Akin presumably among them, can deny that the Church presently finds herself in the midst of a very serious crisis of faith and morals. In fact, no less a figure than Cardinal Raymond Burke has publicly stated that Francis is very much to blame for the present turmoil. According to him:
[Francis] “not only refuses to clarify things by proclaiming the constant doctrine and sound discipline of the Church, a responsibility inherent in his ministry as the Successor of St. Peter, but he is also increasing the confusion” on the “most fundamental and important issues.”
Cardinal Burke made these comments more than a year ago. Since then, the situation has become graver still, and other cardinals (in addition to the four signatories to the dubia) have voiced similar concerns. This is what gave rise to the Open Letter, which states:
It is agreed that a pope who is guilty of heresy and remains obstinate in his heretical views cannot continue as pope. Theologians and canonists discuss this question as part of the subject of the loss of papal office. The causes of the loss of papal office that they list always include death, resignation, and heresy.
Where the rubber meets the road in this discussion concerns Jorge Bergoglio’s status; not just with respect to the Office of Peter, but with respect to the Church. As suggested above, one who obstinately persists in heresy cannot remain pope, and for the simple reason that such a one is not in communion with the Catholic Church.
Again, moving forward in this article, we are going to replace “heresy” and “heretical” with whatever terms one may wish to use to denote the obstinate denial of merely infallible teachings that are not defined as divinely revealed. Upon doing so, we are faced with two very important questions:
First, what exactly is a faithful Catholic’s obligation toward those infallible doctrines that have not been defined as being divinely revealed and, secondly, what are the consequences should one fail in that obligation?
In his article of clarification, Mr. Akin provides some citations taken from the Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei, a text issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1998. I am delighted that he has chosen to cite this work as it is going to prove most useful indeed.
Readers will be interested in knowing that the Doctrinal Commentary was written to provide insight into how the motu proprio of John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem, by which certain norms were inserted into the 1983 Code of Canon Law, was to be applied moving forward. It was by virtue of this motu proprio that the following section was added to Canon 750:
§ 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.
This text provides at least partial answers to both of the questions posed above: One, the faithful are obligated to “firmly accept and hold” those infallible doctrines that have not been defined as being divinely revealed and, two, he who fails in this obligation “sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
This latter concept (“sets himself against the teaching of the Church”) requires further clarification. Fortunately, the CDF provided just that in its Doctrinal Commentary.
Before providing this clarification, note well that the CDF Commentary compares the assent that one is obligated to give to the dogmas of the faith with the assent that is required concerning doctrines that are merely infallible. It states:
With regard to the nature of the assent owed to the truths set forth by the Church as divinely revealed [that is, dogma, the proper matter of heresy] or to be held definitively [that is, doctrines infallibly defined but not divinely revealed], it is important to emphasize that there is no difference with respect to the full and irrevocable character of the assent which is owed to these teachings. [Emphasis added]
What this means is that, insofar as our obligation toward a particular doctrine is concerned, it does not matter whether that doctrine is a dogma or merely an infallible teaching; the assent required is the same, albeit based upon different things.
With this being the case, one may very well expect that when it comes to the consequences for failing to give that assent, there will likewise be no difference; that is to say that the consequences for committing “heresy” properly speaking and the consequences for denying a merely infallible doctrine should also be the same.
Well, guess what? For all intents and purposes, they are.
The CDF Commentary goes on to say concerning those truths that are infallibly defined but not (at least not yet) defined as divinely revealed:
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.Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church. [Emphasis in original]
NB: One who denies a doctrine that is merely an infallible teaching – presumably obstinately so (we’ll return to this point momentarily) – is no longer in communion with the Catholic Church.
And this applies to whom? “Every believer.” In other words, it applies just as much to a claimant to the Chair of St. Peter as to each and every one of us.
Thankfully, we need not look very far back in time to find an historical precedent that demonstrates how, in such cases, the process of falling from communion with the Catholic Church takes place.
The CDF Commentary highlighted, as an example of an infallible truth that is not (yet) a dogma, Church teaching on the ordination of women. This was perhaps providential.
You see, in September of 2013, the CDF found Fr. Greg Reynolds of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia guilty of denying precisely this infallible doctrine. His bishop, Archbishop Dennis Hart, issued a letter explaining the consequences as follows:
The decision by Pope Francis to dismiss Fr. Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church and his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not hold faculties to act publicly as a priest. [Emphasis added]
Pay very close attention to what is being stated: Fr. Reynolds was not excommunicated by the pope or anyone else for that matter; rather, his excommunication was “automatic.” Francis simply declared what had already happened to him; namely, self-imposed excommunication, while also moving to dismiss him from the clerical state. These are two separate albeit related matters.
NB: The cause of Reynolds’ automatic excommunication wasn’t heresy (the denial of dogma); rather, it was his denial of something that is merely an infallible teaching.
So, according to this precedent, set under Francis no less, the consequences for failing to firmly accept and hold (cf CIC 750 § 2) an infallible doctrine that has not been defined as being divinely revealed is automatic excommunication.
At this, let’s discuss the matter of obstinacy; something that is required in such cases. In his initial article refuting the Open Letter, Mr. Akin wrote:
…the Open Letter also fails to demonstrate that Pope Francis obstinately doubts or denies dogmas. One of the requirements for doing this is showing that his statements or actions cannot be understood in another sense. If they can be understood consistently with dogma then the obligation of charity—and Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity”—requires that they be taken this way.
I find several points in this treatment objectionable.
For one, the faithful are obligated to both accept and hold infallible teachings; the latter suggests action. As such, an individual’s obstinate denial of Church teaching (after having been corrected as to the true doctrine) can be demonstrated by their very own actions; regardless of how charitably their statements may be read. (This is why the authors of the Open Letter took pains to highlight any number of Francis’ actions.)
For example, a priest whose questionable or ambiguous statements can conceivably be understood as consistent with the dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, but who publicly commits acts of sacrilege against the Sacred Host, would clearly demonstrate his obstinate denial of said dogma.
Furthermore, Canon Law places the obligation to firmly accept and hold the infallible doctrines of the faith (cf CIC 750 § 2) on “every believer.” The burden does not lie on others to labor in order to find ways to shoe-horn a Catholic reading upon every doctrinal statement of questionable orthodoxy that another individual may make.
In fact, in their effort to safeguard the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine, Church authorities (and bear in mind, the Open Letter is addressed to the Bishops) have never done this (at least when they are upholding their own duty). Doing so would be the exact opposite of charity with respect to both the person suspected of setting himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church (cf CIC 750 § 2) and those innocent souls that may be misled by him. After all, the Church’s primary concern is the salvation of all involved.
Rather, the way in which statements of questionable orthodoxy are addressed by the Church according to eminent theologian Fr. Ludwig Ott is as follows:
In deciding the meaning of a text the Church does not pronounce judgment on the subjective intention of the author, but on the objective sense of the text. (Fr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma)
This is not to say that the author’s subjective intention is of no concern whatsoever, but we will return to this momentarily. The important point here is that the objective sense of a given text, understood according to its plain meaning, is what prompts suspicion that its author may be “in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine thus severing himself from the Catholic Church” (see CDF Commentary cited above).
So, in addition to observing the actions of the individual suspected, in what way may obstinacy be determined?
The Catholic Encyclopedia states with regard to heresy: “Pertinacity, that is, obstinate adhesion to a particular tenet is required to make heresy formal.” This, as opposed to “wrong beliefs [that] are only transient errors and fleeting opinions.”
Given that the CDF has already established that there is no difference in the assent owed to dogma (the denial of which is heresy) as compared to that which is owed to infallibly defined doctrine, let us apply what is stated above to the present case:
Obstinacy can either be disproven or proven, based on whether or not Francis, when confronted with the true doctrine and duly corrected, is willing to correct that which at least appears to be a wrong belief in favor of firmly accepting and holding the infallible doctrines in question. This, in addition to his other public actions, will demonstrate whether he simply made some “transient errors” and expressed some “fleeting opinions” or obstinately set himself against the Church.
Remember, at stake here is membership in the Church, which requires the following:
Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws (cf Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis) [Emphasis added]
With regard to the seven accusations made in the Open Letter, simply reciting the Creed (or some other symbolum) is not enough for Francis to externally manifest membership in the Church through a profession of the same faith. At issue are specific infallible doctrines that he is obligated to firmly accept and hold (cf CIC 750 § 2).
Therefore, having been corrected and admonished to affirm the true faith in these matters (again, by cardinals, no less), he must externally manifest membership in the Church through a profession of the same faith with respect to those specific doctrines. What’s more, it would also be necessary for his actions (as demonstrated in the example given above concerning the Real Presence) to externally manifest his firm acceptance and willingness to hold said doctrines.
Indeed, Francis has been publicly implored numerous times to reaffirm the infallible doctrines of the faith in light of his many, shall we say, suspect statements. He has refused. At this point, it is very difficult to imagine anyone – Jimmy Akin included – suggesting that Francis simply made some “transient errors” and expressed some “fleeting opinions” with respect to the doctrines in question.
As such, I for one believe that it is entirely reasonable to conclude that Francis has more than proven his obstinacy.
Granted, when the suspect in question is the pope, we find ourselves in uncharted territory. Even so, it does not strike me as the least bit unreasonable to believe that Francis has, by his obstinacy, invited upon himself precisely the same fate as Fr. Reynolds; namely, automatic excommunication. That is to say that he has, of his own volition, severed himself from the Body of Christ and is no longer in communion with the Catholic Church.
To be very clear: In this scenario, no one is judging or exercising jurisdiction over Francis; he has simply judged himself. As regular readers of this space know, this is my opinion. I can most certainly understand how others of good faith, Jimmy Akin among them, may disagree.
Even so, I would like to think that Mr. Akin can agree with me (and others far more learned and holy than I) that Francis has, at the very least, rendered himself highly suspicious of rejecting some or all of the infallible truths of Catholic doctrine cited in the Open Letter, and many of his actions have only contributed to increasing said suspicion.
At the risk of exhausting his patience, I – and I am certain our readers – would be most interested in Mr. Akin’s response to what has been presented here. I would also like to ask if he would perhaps consider answering the following:
Given that the Catholic Church, as Cardinal Burke insists, is experiencing increasing confusion on the most fundamental and important issues, in no small measure because Francis refuses to clarify things by proclaiming the constant doctrine and sound discipline of the Church, will you not join your voice with those of other concerned scholars, clerics, religious, and ordinary faithful in publicly requesting that the bishops take concrete steps to directly address this grave situation?
After all, the salvation of souls is at stake. Do we not have an obligation to use our public platforms to advocate for a remedy, even if only partial, to this terrible situation?
In conclusion, if nothing else, I hope that this exchange has thus far demonstrated to our readers that men who sincerely love the Catholic Church and the one true faith can disagree on very important matters and still maintain enough civility to address the substance of one another’s arguments.
Jimmy Akin has already been generous in giving his time to this effort and I am grateful for that. I’ve learned quite a bit in the process. Hopefully our readers can say the same.
O Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!
National Catholic Register has published an article by Jimmy Akin wherein he vehemently refutes the recent Open Letter accusing Francis of heresy.
Akin begins, logically so, with the definition of heresy provided in the Code of Canon Law:
Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith (CIC 751).
From there, he provides another necessary canonical definition:
A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium (CIC 750 §1).
He then went on to say:
Consequently, a truth that requires divine and Catholic faith is a truth that, one way or another, the Magisterium has infallibly defined to be divinely revealed.” [Emphasis in original]
These truths, Akin explains, are called “dogmas,” which he further defines as follows:
Within the set of infallible doctrines is a smaller set that consists of those infallible teachings that the Magisterium has infallibly defined to be divinely revealed. These are the dogmas. [Emphasis in original]
If I understand Akin’s article correctly, his greatest point of emphasis (as suggested in the citations above) seems to be the suggestion that unless the Magisterium infallibly and explicitly defines a given doctrine as being divinely revealed, then said doctrine cannot properly be considered a dogma, and consequently its denial does not rise to the level of heresy. He writes:
Note that just because something is infallible, that doesn’t make it a dogma. The Magisterium has to have infallibly said that it is divinely revealed for that to be the case.
I would invite Mr. Akin to correct me if I have misread his position, but he seems to be treating the phrase “divinely revealed” almost, if not entirely, formulaically; as if a General Council that fails to explicitly state as much fails to teach dogmatically.
My first thought upon reading his article up to this point is that when a council; e.g., the Council of Trent, employs the formula anathema sit, this alone is enough to inform the faithful that the truth in question is sufficiently based in revelation as to be considered divinely revealed; i.e., dogma.
This understanding seems to be confirmed by the eminent theologian Fr. Ludwig Ott, who offered in his landmark work, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:
Anathema Sit. This signifies that the preceding proposition is officially condemned by the Church and is heretical.
To be clear, by stating that an anathematized proposition “is heretical,” one understands Fr. Ott to mean that it necessarily concerns the denial of dogma; that is, as Akin rightly proposed, the denial of a truth that is infallibly taught as divinely revealed.
Later in his article, Akin seems to anticipate this argument saying, “one has to be careful about this word [anathema], as it is sometimes used without making a definition (see Teaching With Authority §§480-488).”
Though I do not claim to know for certain, even if we allow that the Magisterium may occasionally use the word “anathema” relative to doctrines undefined, I would venture to say that this is the exception. Furthermore, as we will see below, when considered in context, it is reasonable to assume that one will be able to discern, without great difficulty, whether or not the matter being anathematized pertains to dogma.
With this in mind, it seems rather clear to me that when the Code of Canon Law speaks of a teaching “proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church…” (see CIC 750 §1 cited above), it is not necessary for the magisterium to employ the phrase “divinely revealed” formulaically.
In fact, Akin seems to allow for as much when he speaks of a doctrine that “one way or another, the Magisterium has infallibly defined to be divinely revealed;” with one of those ways being via the use of the formula anathema sit.
At this, let’s consider just the first of the seven accusations of heresy listed in the Open Letter; a matter that has been treated in this space many times going back several years. (e.g., see Roman Catholic Church v Francis)
The Open Letter accuses Francis of holding the following position:
- A justified person has not the strength with God’s grace to carry out the objective demands of the divine law, as though any of the commandments of God are impossible for the justified; or as meaning that God’s grace, when it produces justification in an individual, does not invariably and of its nature produce conversion from all serious sin, or is not sufficient for conversion from all serious sin.
For the sake of clarity, the authors of the Open Letter would have done well to provide direct quotes / citations for each of the seven charges. In this case, the aforementioned charge refers to the article in Amoris Laetitia that reads:
A subject may know full well the rule [divine law concerning the mortal sin of adultery], yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent values, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin. (AL 301)
The authors of the Open Letter then provide the following relevant citation of authentic Catholic teaching in the matter:
Council of Trent, session 6, canon 18: “If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace, let him be anathema” (DH 1568).
This particular canon refers back to that which was taught by the council in the preceding section entitled, “On keeping the Commandments, and on the necessity and possibility thereof.” The Council states:
But no one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema – that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy; whose yoke is sweet and whose burthen light. For, whoso are the sons of God, love Christ; but they who love him, keep his commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do (Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter XI).
In this, the Council is faithfully transmitting a teaching that comes to us from “the Fathers” of the Church, and also from Our Lord “as Himself testifies” in Sacred Scripture.
It seems quite obvious (to me, at any rate) that the teaching imparted therein pertains both to Tradition and to a truth divinely revealed – even though the phrase is not explicitly invoked. Furthermore, if Ludwig Ott is to be taken seriously, Canon XVIII appears to remove all doubt on this point when it attaches an anathema sit to its denial.
In spite of this, Jimmy Akin would have us believe that the matter under discussion pertains neither to dogma nor, therefore, to the possibility of heresy based on its denial. I find this very difficult to reconcile with all that has been stated above.
In his article, Jimmy Akin – a man with whom I have disagreed in the past but have always found to be a gentleman – assumes a surprisingly haughty and condescending posture, at one point taking a shot at the Letter’s signatories; pointing out that “none have doctorates in the relevant fields of canon law or sacred theology… [or] seem to be specialists in ecclesiology.”
All the more do I lack any formal education in the fields mentioned. Even so, Sacred Scripture itself gives no indication that only the cognoscenti among us – much less strictly those with doctorates – will be able to identify a heretic who must be avoided.
A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he, that is such a one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment (Titus 3:10-11)
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema (Galatians 1:8).
As this debate concerning what is, and what is not, properly understood as a dogma – that is, a doctrine infallibly defined by the magisterium as divinely revealed; the denial of which is heresy – is central to both the Open Letter and Jimmy Akin’s refutation of the same, it is my hope that he will kindly respond to the points I’ve raised here-in; if not directly, then perhaps in a future article.
…is a detailed sort of diary, in which O’Connell describes the atmosphere of that 30-day period – 11 February-13 March 2013 – and how the cardinals, caught off guard by Benedict’s unexpected resignation, tried to discern whom they could and should elect.
So, who is this O’Connell character? According to Mrs. Hickson, he is the husband of Argentinian journalist Elisabetta Piqué and a personal friend of Francis. How personal?
Bergoglio also baptized one of his children, and he met with the O’Connell family just ahead of the conclave. O’Connell is the Rome Correspondent for the Jesuit magazine America edited by Father James Martin, S.J.
Elisabetta Piqué also happens to be the author of the authorized biography, Francisco, Vida y Revolución (Francisco, Life and Revolution); a Spanish language text not widely read in the English-speaking world. That, however, does not mean that its revelations are being ignored.
According to Piqué, there was a certain irregularity in the balloting procedure at Conclave 2013. She writes:
In the fifth round, he’s [Bergoglio] about to reach and surpass the magical threshold of seventy-seven votes. But something unexpected happens: after the voting but before the ballots are reads, the scrutineer mixes them up inside the box but then realizes as he counts then that there is one extra, 116 instead of 115. It seems that one of the cardinals accidentally put two ballots in the box, one with his choice of pope and a blank one that got stuck to the actual ballot. These things happen.
Before we move on, let us ask, but how does she know that this thing happened at Conclave 2013? After all, the cardinal electors are sworn to secrecy upon pain of excommunication.
The answer, it seems, is that it is Jorge the Humble himself who revealed these, and many other details, to Piqué about what went on during the proceedings; including which cardinals received votes, and how many, during each round of balloting.
Not surprising given that this is the same man who considers himself unbound by Catholic dogma.
Yes, but are the details accurate?
In his soon-to-be-released book, Piqué’s husband, Gerard O’Connell, provides much the same detailed accounting of Conclave 2013. Michael Sean Winters, a writer for the National Catholic Reporter, in his own review of O’Connell’s book, wrote:
Who would have disclosed this? Who would have remembered the vote totals with such precision? How can we verify this account? I do not know the answers to those questions but I will tell you this: When I posed them to a cardinal, he replied, “I think Gerry nailed it.”
In any event, the fact that Piqué’s retelling was even published in L’Osservatore Romano should put the accuracy of her reporting beyond any doubt. As such, some noteworthy individuals have suggested that the election results may be invalid according to the conclave’s procedural rules as set forth by John Paul II in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Domenici Gregis.
Among them, well-respected Italian journalist, Antonio Socci, who raised this very concern in his book, Non è Francesco.
More noteworthy still is the position taken by Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, who in addition to citing the aforementioned procedural irregularity as grounds for questioning the validity of Conclave 2013, wrote:
I believe that the election of Jorge Maria Cardinal Bergoglio in the Conclave of 2013 was perhaps either illicit or invalid or both because of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis promulgated by Saint [sic] Pope John Paul II. That Apostolic Constitution prohibited the kind of conspiracy confessed to by the Cardinals of the ‘Saint Gallen Mafia’ which conspiracy was subject to an automatic excommunication. It is impossible for an excommunicated cardinal to be elected pope!!!
Bishop Gracida has also publicly stated, “I believe that Pope Benedict XVI was criminally forced to resign.”
This brings me back to Gerard O’Connell’s new book, which focuses primarily on events that happened over six years ago! Given his connections, certainly he had ready access to all of the information contained in his book long ago; in fact, it may very well be that the book has been ready to go for years. So, why is it just now being published?
At least one reason, it seems to me, may be that Godfried Danneels – the cardinal who apparently didn’t understand the meaning of omertà and just couldn’t keep his mouth shut – has finally died. This is the man who openly bragged about the activities of the St. Gallen “mafia” and their efforts to oppose Benedict XVI and secure votes for Jorge Bergoglio during conclave 2013.
A reading of Maike Hickson’s book review tells me that the publication date of O’Connell’s book – like so many other things associated with the “so-called pontificate of Francis” (to quote Fr. Nicholas Gruner yet again) – is part of a well-calculated PR initiative; more specifically in this case, an attempt at damage control in light of questions that continue to swirl concerning the activities of the so-called St. Gallen mafia vis-a-vis Conclave 2013.
O’Connell goes out of his way to convince readers that there was no campaigning on Bergoglio’s behalf, and to the extent that his candidacy was being discussed by others, Jorge himself was unaware of any attempt on the part of the St. Gallen group or anyone else to promote him; much less did he give his consent to such activities.
At this, readers may recall Uncle Ted McCarrick’s revelations about an “influential Italian” man who encouraged him to “talk up Bergoglio” in the lead-up to Conclave 2013. More on him momentarily…
O’Connell even goes so far as to quote Bergoglio as saying to friends, “I never thought I would be elected;” this even though it is widely accepted, and largely uncontested, that he was the runner-up at Conclave 2005. This reminds me that Benedict also claimed that he never thought of Bergoglio being elected in 2013. Protesting too much, anyone?
Surely, if the chest-thumping, loquacious Danneels was still alive, you can bet that he would be sought out for commentary in light of these denials, but alas, the Bergoglians were clever enough to wait for him to die.
Part of this still unfolding story concerns the activities of the aforementioned Mr. Theodore McCarrick, who, according to his longtime abuse victim, James Grein, was intimately connected with the St. Gallen group even from his seminary days.
It seems that McCarrick, in service to the aims of the St. Gallen group, may have done more than just “talk” Bergoglio up. According to a Catholic News Agency report:
“When he would visit Rome, Cardinal McCarrick was well-known for handing out envelopes of money to different bishops and cardinals around the curia to thank them for their work,” a curial cardinal recently told CNA. “Where these ‘honoraria’ came from or what they were for, exactly, was never clear – but many accepted them anyway.”
McCarrick. Homosexuality. Money. The Vatican Bank scandal. Benedict’s mysterious departure. Jorge Bergoglio taking over. At the center of it all is St. Gallen.
The demise of Theodore McCarrick seems to have set in motion a domino effect that may very well lead to the unmasking of truly diabolical forces that have long been at work in the Vatican, the details of which have the potential for shaking the faith of a great majority of Catholics.
Without going any further afield, I will simply say this:
I believe that what has thus far been reported concerning the activities of the St. Gallen group is just the tip of a very large iceberg. While I do not believe for a moment that the evildoers are about to be expelled, I do believe that things are heating up with regard to their exposure, even if limited, and they know it.
Which is why the Bergoglians – and more importantly, the big money, one-world government powerbrokers behind them – have decided that the time has come for O’Connell’s book to be published.
As such, I will be keeping an expectant eye open for new revelations concerning the St. Gallen group’s hand in Benedict’s departure and Bergoglio’s installation sometime in the not too distant future.