Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Does Canon 17 Refute LifeSiteNews' Theologian: "Benedict [must have]... thought: I only want to resign the Ministerium if it is in fact distinct from the Munus"?

LifeSiteNews' anonymous theologian on Pope Benedict XVI's resignation according to the website claims that Benedict's abdication could only be invalid if he thought ministerium and munus were "distinct":

"Benedict's abdication would be invalid only if he had in his mind the thought: 'I only want to resign the ministerium if it is distinct from the munus.'"
(LifeSiteNews, "Did Benedict really resign? Ganswein, Burke and Brandmuller weight in," February 14, 2019)

Canon law expert Br. Alexis Bugnolo appears to says this is not a correct way to legally approach the resignation because canon law requires an objective reading of what the two words mean using canon 17's criteria and not a subjective reading of what the two words may possibly have meant in the mind of Benedict:

"Canon 17 requires that Canon 332 S2 be read in accord with the meaning of canon 145 S1  and canon 41... requires that ministerium and munus be understood as referring to two different things."
(From Rome, "Ganswein, Brandmuller & Burke: Please read Canon 17, February 14, 2019)

Canon lawyer Edward Peters explains "Canon 17... states 'if the meaning [of the law, and UDG is a law] remains doubtful and obscure, recourse must be made to parallel places."
(Catholic World Report, "Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded," September 28, 2017)

I studied some law in college and I am not in any way a canon lawyer, but this is my understanding of what the LifeSiteNews' theologian and Br. Bugnolo are saying.

Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church.


Anonymous said...

Canon 332, sect. 2 is what comes to my mind as well, because even if Pope Benedict did intend 'ministry' as identical to 'munus', it still remains the case that he has not "properly manifested" this, as he has to in order for his abdication to be valid. Perhaps if valid resignations depended only on intentions, the theologian might have a point. But demonstrating the right intentions is necessary too.

MEwbank said...

I agree with Cam, although I would prefer to avoid the use of 'subjective' vs. 'objective' as qualifiers concerning this matter.

The fact is that papal resignation is a strictly juridical act and it requires explicit fulfillment of every requisite juridical stipulation to be valid. Interior intention must be fully and accurately manifested in exterior words to accomplish this act.

The language used in his resignation does not fulfill this requisite.

Alexis Bugnolo said...


For the record you understood me correctly.

I think, humanly speaking, most canonists only have habitual experience of the canonical proceedures in annulment cases which regard the Sacrament of Matrimony, which falls under the norms of contractual law.

But the Petrine Succession is totally different. It is not a sacrament nor a vow kind of a thing. It's like the last will and testament of your father. If he did not say he gave it to you, you do not get it. Some other sibling gets it. Or his estate keeps it.

Benedict gave away the ministerium, the doing of the office.

But he never on any occasion before during or after Feb 11, 2013 said he gave away the munus petrinum.

That means that the Petrine Succession has not yet occurred. The train left the station with all the Cardinals and hoopla, but Benedict and his papal office are still on the platform.

Fred Martinez said...

Br. Bugnolo,

Thank you for your continued courage and clarity.

It would be extremely helpful if you could go into detail into canon 17, canon 332 S2, canon 145 S1 and canon 41 using the example of the last will and testament analogy as contrasted with how other canonists are using the Sacrament of Matrimony contract law analogy.

Also, if you could explain in detail using canon law why canonists are wrong is saying ministerium and munus are synonyms that mean the exact same thing or nearly the exact same thing.

Finally, please explain why the present canon law was instituted by Pope John Paul II and is the supreme law for the Catholic Church until another pope institutes a new one.