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As Catholic Scandal Unfolds, Pope Francis Looks Increasingly Blameworthy

As Catholic Scandal Unfolds, Pope Francis Looks Increasingly Blameworthy

The report reveals a pope indifferent to the complaints of abuse survivors, and who has surrounded himself with others accused of covering up claims.

Willis L. Krumholz and Robert Delahunty

By Willis L. Krumholz and Robert Delahunty

OCTOBER 5, 2018

The recent publication of a devastating report on Pope Francis in the German news magazine Der Spiegel marks a new phase in the continuing crisis in the Catholic Church. The report (as yet unavailable in English) is entitled: “Thou shalt not lie: The silence of the shepherds.”

Contradicting the widespread image of Pope Francis as a “reformer” concerned to expose clerical sexual abuses within his church and punish the offenders, the report reveals a pope who for years has been indifferent to the complaints of abuse survivors, and has surrounded himself with an inner circle of close advisors, several of whom have been accused of cover-ups.

Der Spiegel’s report is decisively important for at least three reasons.

1. Ordinary people are speaking out.

The report is the carefully documented result of hard journalistic work, some of it in Argentina, where Francis, then Jorge Bergoglio, had been cardinal archbishop before his elevation to the papacy in 2013. It also gives voice to ordinary lay Catholics whose complaints about clerical sex abuse Francis has studiously rejected or ignored. These charges do not come from Vatican insiders who want a grudge match with Francis over doctrinal differences.

For example: An Argentine woman, Julieta Añazco, says that a priest sexually abused her when she was six years old. She and 13 other survivors wrote to the pope shortly after his election. They have had no reply. A defender of Argentine abuse survivors, Juan Pablo Gallego, says that in Argentina, Francis is suspected of having protected rapists and child abusers “for years.” This witness points to a certain Fr. Grassi, now in prison for raping teenage boys. Francis ordered a legal report to defend Grassi.

When Gallego met then Cardinal Bergoglio in 2006 to discuss the complaints, Gallego found him indifferent. According to Gallego, Francis was “withdrawn and mistrusting, he said no word about the fact that the Church paid Grassi’s lawyers. The current image of an open, sympathetic Pope Francis does not fit the man whom I sat in front of at the time.”

2. Der Spiegel changed its mind.

Der Spiegel is a major European news outlet with a left-leaning bias. No one could seriously suspect it of wanting to do a hatchet job on Francis because of ideological differences. In fact, early in Francis’ Papacy, Der Spiegel published an adulatory article on him, describing him as a pope who would “clean up the Catholic Church and improve its image.”

The story declared: “He has taken his office to heavenly heights. He makes it easy for people to love him. They like his incongruous approach and his plain words.”

But in a single stroke, the new Der Spiegel report demolishes the argument of Francis’ apologists that we should dismiss the accusations against him because they came from supposedly “right wing” sources. The report comes from a periodical that once thought that he had raised the papacy to “heavenly heights.”

3. The Watergate paradigm doesn’t apply.

Third, before the Der Spiegel report, attention had been focused on a rather narrow issue: What had Francis known about the decades-long sexual abuses of which former cardinal Theodore McCarrick stood accused, and when had he known it? (More on McCarrick below). Those questions forced the debate into the Watergate-type mold, long familiar to American journalism: What did he know, and when did he know it?

Der Spiegel’s report helpfully redirects the focus away from American obsessions with Watergate to a broader and more salient inquiry: How has Francis governed his church? What should Francis have known, and what should he have done about it? Is he a reformer, or is he part of the problem?

It is becoming unmistakably clear that he is not only part of the problem, but also the chief obstacle to its solution.

How the Current Crisis Emerged

As we have written, this crisis threatens the Roman Catholic Church as nothing else has since the events of the Reformation just over 500 years ago. It is not, any longer, simply a crisis about pedophilia, or the abuse of young children. As Maureen Mullarkey wrote in The Federalist recently, the current scandals are about homosexuality, including the abuse of adult Roman Catholic seminarians and clergy by higher ranking homosexual clergy, and the concealment of those offenses by other high-ranking clergy.

The particular scandal that triggered the current public discussion is that of McCarrick, the former cardinal archbishop of Washington, D.C., who was a close advisor to Pope Francis and reputedly influential as a lobbyist in Francis’ election to the papacy. In the course of his long career in the church, McCarrick routinely abused and assaulted seminarians. And everyone knew, or should have known.

As far back as 2012, mainstream media outlets were inches away from running stories about McCarrick — a “progressive” Catholic — only to have the stories shut down. A book in late 2002 outlined the abuses by an anonymous bishop, immediately identified as McCarrick, “who was notorious for taking groups of seminarians to his weekend home and sexually harassing or abusing them but was nonetheless promoted up through the ranks by Pope John Paul II.”

Church officials were contacted, but nothing was done.

McCarrick’s Rise and Fall

As archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000, McCarrick had a “well established” reputation for visiting the seminary, where he would make unwanted sexual advances at seminarians. There was a long-running joke in Newark’s seminary that they had to “hide the handsome ones” before McCarrick arrived.

Former seminarians, speaking to the National Catholic Register, describe McCarrick’s visits as an “uncomfortable experience.” McCarrick would often touch seminarians, including by putting his hands on their thighs. Then he would invite the willing to stay the night at his beach house, paid for by the church, or at the cathedral rectory in Newark.

The behavior went far above and beyond activities “between two consenting adults.” This was about power, and the abuse of subordinates who felt powerless to fight back. It was like the Hollywood of Harvey Weinstein, but within the training grounds of the Catholic priesthood.

That culture, which started at the top of Newark’s diocese, filtered down. One priest, Father Desmond Rossi, has publicly alleged that he was sexually assaulted by two transitional deacons in the late 1980s. Father Rossi immediately told the archdiocesan authorities about the assault and went before a review board. Despite finding his version of events “credible,” nothing was done, and Rossi even faced retaliation.

Another priest, speaking anonymously, recalls being invited to a priests-only cocktail party that turned out to be a gay sex party. “They were all carrying big mixed drinks, pink ones, it was like something out of Sex in the City.” After being whistled at, among other things, the priest left the party, while those who remained inched closer to each other on the couch.

Another priest, who was ordained during McCarrick’s reign in Newark, said “a lot of people lost their innocence in the seminary.” Seminarians would come to him in tears. According to this priest, there were two types of seminarians: “You had the men who were there because they had a deep love of the Lord and a vocation to serve his Church … But there was a subculture, with its own group of men, that was openly homosexual and petty and vindictive with everyone else.”

This priest was warned before entering the seminary that he would “see things that weren’t right.” Seminarians were advised to lock their door at night to avoid “visitors.” Even after McCarrick left the Newark diocese in 2000, abuses continued. In 2014, Father Mark O’Malley was removed as rector of St. Andrew’s Hall, the college seminary, after he allegedly hid a camera in the bedroom of a young seminarian.

Understandably, this culture — not just a culture of open homosexuality, but of textbook sexual assault and harassment, and the abuse of power — left many priests incredibly demoralized. In the words of the National Catholic Register, “One priest said that some graduating classes from the middle 1990s have seen nearly half of their members leave ministry, and concerns have been raised about the behavior of some of those who remain in ministry.” All this was an open secret: In his important 2008 book Sacrilege, the investigator Leon Podles had thoroughly documented it.

McCarrick, meanwhile, had moved on and up. He was named archbishop of Washington in 2000, and soon after promoted to cardinal by John Paul II. The fall came, however, when it emerged that McCarrick had repeatedly abused at least one minor, “James,” beginning when James was 11. James, now a grown man, has struggled with alcoholism, which broke up his marriage, and attempted suicide multiple times. He’s been sober since he was 33.

As an adult, James threatened McCarrick that he would tell all. According to James, McCarrick responded: “No one’s going to believe you. You’re a drunk. You’re an idiot. … Do you know how important I am?”

Rot in the Catholic Hierarchy

Once these allegations came to light, all hell broke loose. McCarrick was forced out as cardinal and will stand trial under (church) canon law next year. But greater questions remained. How could such a high-ranking Roman Catholic official have gotten away with this behavior for so long? Why were secular media outlets aware of this behavior, and not the church’s hierarchy?

Then came the accusations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who had served as the papal “nuncio” or ambassador to the United States from 2011 to 2016. According to Viganò, Pope Benedict had learned of McCarrick’s behavior toward adult seminarians and removed him from public life. When Francis was elected pope in 2013, Viganò says he warned Francis about McCarrick’s abuses, and gave him a dossier on McCarrick’s misdeeds. According to Viganò, Francis then ignored the warnings, and promoted McCarrick to the position of a close personal advisor.

Viganò himself is a very senior Vatican official, an archbishop, and a former ambassador. His good character has been vouched for — at some risk to their own careers — by other leading Catholic prelates. He has produced several documents that appear to corroborate at least some of his charges and, to the embarrassment of the Vatican, he has used those documents to rebut one main objection to his credibility.

Viganò repeated the substance of his earlier charges last week, added at least one important additional one (that Francis had halted the investigation of sex abuse scandals against a British cardinal, now dead), and openly invited his former colleague, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, to confirm his charges about Francis’ handling of McCarrick.

For his efforts, Viganò’s credibility has been repeatedly attacked. Pope Francis even made a veiled denunciation of Vigano as the Great Accuser — a kind of Satan. It may be that Viganò’s hands are not so clean either: The purpose and effect of Viganò’s intervention as nuncio during an in-house investigation of former Archbishop John Nienstadt of St. Paul-Minneapolis has not been fully explained, and further disclosure might affect the judgment of his credibility.

But Viganò’s personal credibility aside, the pope’s handling of the McCarrick case remains highly troubling. In the words of Brett Decker, writing at USA Today, “For Church leaders to deny knowledge of notorious, serial abuses that appeared in print in prominently published books strains credulity.”

The Pope who Stonewalled

Just look at how Francis has reacted to the charges. When Vigano’s original eleven-page memorandum detailing the basis of his charges was made public, the global media questioned Francis about the charges. He told reporters to “read the statement carefully and make your own judgment.”

“I will not say a single word on this,” Francis said. Then, he invited the world press to investigate — Viganò. Francis has maintained his arrogant, stony silence since then, except to make oblique attacks on Viganò in contexts (like sermons) in which he could not be questioned.

When The New York Times took up Francis’ invitation to the press to investigate Viganò’s allegations, not a single cardinal in the Roman Curia (the papal court in Rome) was willing to answer the Times’ questions. In an in-flight press conference during his recent return journey from a visit to the Baltics, Francis refused to allow any questions from English-speaking journalists.

So much for Francis’ calls for openness, dialogue, and accountability. So far, Francis has not said one word about the McCarrick affair.

Francis Denies Bishops’ Request to Investigate

Since the McCarrick scandal broke, there have been two other significant developments relating to the Catholic efforts to expose and correct abuses. On neither has Francis shown himself deserving of his flock’s trust.

After McCarrick became front page news, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, petitioned Pope Francis on Aug. 16 for a meeting to discuss the appointment of an “Apostolic Visitor” – essentially, a Vatican-led investigation into how McCarrick had climbed so far in the church despite the notoriety of his conduct.

After holding DiNardo off for weeks, the pope finally agreed to meet with him on Sept. 23. Also present at the meeting was Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

In characteristic Vatican fashion, the pope’s decision at the meeting was simply not revealed. But it has become clear that the pope has flatly turned down the request made by his own American bishops for an investigation. As his “counter-offer” to the American bishops’ request, the pope reportedly proposed that they take a week-long spiritual retreat.

The Global Meeting of Catholic Bishops

The second development was that Francis called for a “summit” of world Catholic bishops to meet in Rome next February to discuss the “protection of minors.” That is well and good. But it also looks like an attempt to distract public attention away from another class of victims whom Francis prefers to ignore: Catholic seminarians at risk from the clerical predators who run their seminaries.

This self-imposed limitation on the global bishops’ agenda looks to us like more than a transparent effort to hide the sins of the hierarchy. The problem of clerical sexual abuse of minors — and it is a very serious matter indeed — should not be allowed to eclipse the also-serious problem of the sexual abuse of vulnerable young adults.

Note that the abuse of minors is predominantly a problem about the conduct of the lower clergy, like parish priests or teachers, while the problem of predation in seminaries is primarily a matter of the conduct of bishops and higher-ranking clergy. In other words, we suspect that February’s global summit may be designed to scapegoat the lower clergy, while continuing the evil practice of ignoring the abuses more characteristic of the higher clergy. The lower clergy are being set up as the fall-guys, and the issues of homosexuality, sexual harassment, and the abuse of power among the hierarchy are being quietly swept under the rug. Again.

So, is there any chance of reform? The best hope lies in an engaged, activist, and protesting Catholic laity. Sadly, in our conversations with some of our Catholic colleagues and friends, we have noticed what seems to us to be a growing resignation, indifference, or even apathy in the face of a steadily worsening Catholic crisis. What accounts for that?

After years, or rather decades, of news about clerical misconduct, are Catholics (or some of them) beginning to suffer scandal-fatigue? The outcome of this crisis lies, as it always has, entirely in the hands of Catholic lay persons.Willis L. Krumholz lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a JD/MBA graduate from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. Robert J. Delahunty is a professor of law at the University of St Thomas and has taught Constitutional Law there for a decade.



Recently many educated Catholic observers, including bishops and priests, have decried the confusion in doctrinal statements about faith or morals made from the Apostolic See at Rome and by the putative Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Some devout, faithful and thoughtful Catholics have even suggested that he be set aside as a heretic, a dangerous purveyor of error, as recently mentioned in a number of reports. Claiming heresy on the part of a man who is a supposed Pope, charging material error in statements about faith or morals by a putative Roman Pontiff, suggests and presents an intervening prior question about his authenticity in that August office of Successor of Peter as Chief of The Apostles, i.e., was this man the subject of a valid election by an authentic Conclave of The Holy Roman Church?  This is so because each Successor of Saint Peter enjoys the Gift of Infallibility.  So, before one even begins to talk about excommunicating such a prelate, one must logically examine whether this person exhibits the uniformly good and safe fruit of Infallibility.  If he seems repeatedly to engage in material error, that first raises the question of the validity of his election because one expects an authentically-elected Roman Pontiff miraculously and uniformly to be entirely incapable of stating error in matters of faith or morals.  So to what do we look to discern the invalidity of such an election?  His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, within His massive legacy to the Church and to the World, left us with the answer to this question.  The Catholic faithful must look back for an answer to a point from where we have come—to what occurred in and around the Sistine Chapel in March 2013 and how the fruits of those events have generated such widespread concern among those people of magisterial orthodoxy about confusing and, or, erroneous doctrinal statements which emanate from The Holy See.   His Apostolic Constitution (Universi Dominici Gregis) which governed the supposed Conclave in March 2013 contains quite clear and specific language about the invalidating effect of departures from its norms.  For example, Paragraph 76 states:  “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”  From this, many believe that there is probable cause to believe that Monsignor Jorge Mario Bergoglio was never validly elected as the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter—he never rightly took over the office of Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and therefore he does not enjoy the charism of Infallibility.  If this is true, then the situation is dire because supposed papal acts may not be valid or such acts are clearly invalid, including supposed appointments to the college of electors itself. Only valid cardinals can rectify our critical situation through privately (secretly) recognizing the reality of an ongoing interregnum and preparing for an opportunity to put the process aright by obedience to the legislation of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in that Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis.  While thousands of the Catholic faithful do understand that only the cardinals who participated in the events of March 2013 within the Sistine Chapel have all the information necessary to evaluate the issue of election validity, there was public evidence sufficient for astute lay faithful to surmise with moral certainty that the March 2013 action by the College was an invalid conclave, an utter nullity. What makes this understanding of Universi Dominici Gregisparticularly cogent and plausible is the clear Promulgation Clause at the end of this Apostolic Constitution and its usage of the word “scienter” (“knowingly”).  The Papal Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis thus concludes definitively with these words:  “.   .   .   knowingly or unknowingly, in any way contrary to this Constitution.”  (“.   .   .   scienter vel inscienter contra hanc Constitutionem fuerint excogitata.”)  [Note that His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, had a somewhat similar promulgation clause at the end of his corresponding, now abrogated, Apostolic Constitution, Romano Pontifici Eligendo, but his does not use “scienter”, but rather uses “sciens” instead. This similar term of sciens in the earlier abrogated Constitution has an entirely different legal significance than scienter.] This word, “scienter”, is a legal term of art in Roman law, and in canon law, and in Anglo-American common law, and in each system, scienter has substantially the same significance, i.e., “guilty knowledge” or willfully knowing, criminal intent.  Thus, it clearly appears that Pope John Paul II anticipated the possibility of criminal activity in the nature of a sacrilege against a process which He intended to be purely pious, private, sacramental, secret and deeply spiritual, if not miraculous, in its nature. This contextual reality reinforced in the Promulgation Clause, combined with:  (1) the tenor of the whole document; (2) some other provisions of the document, e.g., Paragraph 76; (3) general provisions of canon law relating to interpretation, e.g., Canons 10 & 17; and, (4) the obvious manifest intention of the Legislator, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, tends to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the legal conclusion that Monsignor Bergoglio was never validly elected Roman Pontiff.  This is so because:1.  Communication of any kind with the outside world, e.g., communication did occur between the inside of the Sistine Chapel and anyone outside, including a television audience, before, during or even immediately after the Conclave;2.   Any political commitment to “a candidate” and any “course of action” planned for The Church or a future pontificate, such as the extensive decade-long “pastoral” plans conceived by the Sankt Gallen hierarchs; and,3.  Any departure from the required procedures of the conclave voting process as prescribed and known by a cardinal to have occurred:each was made an invalidating act, and if scienter (guilty knowledge) was present, also even a crime on the part of any cardinal or other actor, but, whether criminal or not, any such act or conduct violating the norms operated absolutely, definitively and entirely against the validity of all of the supposed Conclave proceedings. Quite apart from the apparent notorious violations of the prohibition on a cardinal promising his vote, e.g., commitments given and obtained by cardinals associated with the so-called “Sankt Gallen Mafia,” other acts destructive of conclave validity occurred.  Keeping in mind that Pope John Paul II specifically focused Universi Dominici Gregis on “the seclusion and resulting concentration which an act so vital to the whole Church requires of the electors” such that “the electors can more easily dispose themselves to accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit,” even certain openly public media broadcasting breached this seclusion by electronic broadcasts outlawed by Universi Dominici Gregis.  These prohibitions include direct declarative statements outlawing any use of television before, during or after a conclave in any area associated with the proceedings, e.g.:  “I further confirm, by my apostolic authority, the duty of maintaining the strictest secrecy with regard to everything that directly or indirectly concerns the election process itself.” Viewed in light of this introductory preambulary language of Universi Dominici Gregis and in light of the legislative text itself, even the EWTN camera situated far inside the Sistine Chapel was an immediately obvious non-compliant  act which became an open and notorious invalidating violation by the time when this audio-visual equipment was used to broadcast to the world the preaching after the “Extra Omnes”.  While these blatant public violations of Chapter IV of Universi Dominici Gregis actuate the invalidity and nullity of the proceedings themselves, nonetheless in His great wisdom, the Legislator did not disqualify automatically those cardinals who failed to recognize these particular offenses against sacred secrecy, or even those who, with scienter, having recognized the offenses and having had some power or voice in these matters, failed or refused to act or to object against them:  “Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur and be discovered, those responsible should know that they will be subject to grave penalties according to the judgment of the future Pope.”  [Universi Dominici Gregis, ¶55]    No Pope apparently having been produced in March 2013, those otherwise valid cardinals who failed with scienter to act on violations of Chapter IV, on that account alone would nonetheless remain voting members of the College unless and until a new real Pope is elected and adjudges them.  Thus, those otherwise valid cardinals who may have been compromised by violations of secrecy can still participate validly in the “clean-up of the mess” while addressing any such secrecy violations with an eventual new Pontiff.  In contrast, the automatic excommunication of those who politicized the sacred conclave process, by obtaining illegally, commitments from cardinals to vote for a particular man, or to follow a certain course of action (even long before the vacancy of the Chair of Peter as Vicar of Christ), is established not only by the word, “scienter,” in the final enacting clause, but by a specific exception, in this case, to the general statement of invalidity which therefore reinforces the clarity of intention by Legislator that those who apply the law must interpret the general rule as truly binding.  Derived directly from Roman law, canonical jurisprudence provides this principle for construing or interpreting legislation such as this Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis.  Expressed in Latin, this canon of interpretation is:   “Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.”  (The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted.)  In this case, an exception from invalidity for acts of simony reinforces the binding force of the general principle of nullity in cases of other violations. Therefore, by exclusion from nullity and invalidity legislated in the case of simony: “If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae.  At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.”  His Holiness made an exception for simony. Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.  The clear exception from nullity and invalidity for simony proves the general rule that other violations of the sacred process certainly do and did result in the nullity and invalidity of the entire conclave. Comparing what Pope John Paul II wrote in His Constitution on conclaves with the Constitution which His replaced, you can see that, with the exception of simony, invalidity became universal. In the corresponding paragraph of what Pope Paul VI wrote, he specifically confined the provision declaring conclave invalidity to three (3) circumstances described in previous paragraphs within His constitution, Romano Pontfici Eligendo.  No such limitation exists in Universi Dominici Gregis.  See the comparison both in English and Latin below:Romano Pontfici Eligendo, 77. Should the election be conducted in a manner different from the three procedures described above (cf. no. 63 ff.) or without the conditions laid down for each of the same, it is for this very reason null and void (cf. no. 62), without the need for any declaration, and gives no right to him who has been thus elected. [Romano Pontfici Eligendo, 77:  “Quodsi electio aliter celebrata fuerit, quam uno e tribus modis, qui supra sunt dicti (cfr. nn. 63 sqq.), aut non servatis condicionibus pro unoquoque illorum praescriptis, electio eo ipso est nulla et invalida (cfr. n. 62) absque ulla declaratione, et ita electo nullum ius tribuit .”] as compared with:Universi Dominici Gregis, 76:  “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”  [Universi Dominici Gregis, 76:  “Quodsi electio aliter celebrata fuerit, quam haec Constitutio statuit, aut non servatis condicionibus pariter hic praescriptis, electio eo ipso est nulla et invalida absque ulla declaratione, ideoque electo nullum ius tribuit.”]Of course, this is not the only feature of the Constitution or aspect of the matter which tends to establish the breadth of invalidity. Faithful must hope and pray that only those cardinals whose status as a valid member of the College remains intact will ascertain the identity of each other and move with the utmost charity and discretion in order to effectuate The Divine Will in these matters.  The valid cardinals, then, must act according to that clear, manifest, obvious and unambiguous mind and intention of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, so evident in Universi Dominici Gregis, a law which finally established binding and self-actuating conditions of validity on the College for any papal conclave, a reality now made so apparent by the bad fruit of doctrinal confusion and plain error. It would seem then that praying and working in a discreet and prudent manner to encourage only those true cardinals inclined to accept a reality of conclave invalidity, would be a most charitable and logical course of action in the light of Universi Dominici Gregis, and out of our high personal regard for the clear and obvious intention of its Legislator, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.  Even a relatively small number of valid cardinals could act decisively and work to restore a functioning Apostolic See through the declaration of an interregnum government.  The need is clear for the College to convene a General Congregation in order to declare, to administer, and soon to end the Interregnum which has persisted since March 2013. Finally, it is important to understand that the sheer number of putative counterfeit cardinals will eventually, sooner or later, result in a situation in which The Church will have no normal means validly ever again to elect a Vicar of Christ.  After that time, it will become even more difficult, if not humanly impossible, for the College of Cardinals to rectify the current disastrous situation and conduct a proper and valid Conclave such that The Church may once again both have the benefit of a real Supreme Pontiff, and enjoy the great gift of a truly infallible Vicar of Christ.  It seems that some good cardinals know that the conclave was invalid, but really cannot envision what to do about it; we must pray, if it is the Will of God, that they see declaring the invalidity and administering an Interregnum through a new valid conclave is what they must do.  Without such action or without a great miracle, The Church is in a perilous situation.  Once the last validly appointed cardinal reaches age 80, or before that age, dies, the process for electing a real Pope ends with no apparent legal means to replace it. Absent a miracle then, The Church would no longer have an infallible Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.  Roman Catholics would be no different that Orthodox Christians. In this regard, all of the true cardinals may wish to consider what Holy Mother Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶675, ¶676 and ¶677 about “The Church’s Ultimate Trial”.  But, the fact that “The Church .   .   .  will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection” does not justify inaction by the good cardinals, even if there are only a minimal number sufficient to carry out Chapter II of Universi Dominici Gregis and operate the Interregnum. This Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, which was clearly applicable to the acts and conduct of the College of Cardinals in March 2013, is manifestly and obviously among those “invalidating” laws “which expressly establish that an act is null or that a person is effected” as stated in Canon 10 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.  And, there is nothing remotely “doubtful or obscure” (Canon 17) about this Apostolic Constitution as clearly promulgated by Pope John Paul II.  The tenor of the whole document expressly establishes that the issue of invalidity was always at stake.  This Apostolic Constitution conclusively establishes, through its Promulgation Clause [which makes “anything done (i.e., any act or conduct) by any person  .   .   .   in any way contrary to this Constitution,”] the invalidity of the entire supposed Conclave, rendering it “completely null and void”. So, what happens if a group of Cardinals who undoubtedly did not knowingly and wilfully initiate or intentionally participate in any acts of disobedience against Universi Dominici Gregis were to meet, confer and declare that, pursuant to Universi Dominici Gregis, Monsignor Bergoglio is most certainly not a valid Roman Pontiff.  Like any action on this matter, including the initial finding of invalidity, that would be left to the valid members of the college of cardinals.  They could declare the Chair of Peter vacant and proceed to a new and proper conclave.  They could meet with His Holiness, Benedict XVI, and discern whether His resignation and retirement was made under duress, or based on some mistake or fraud, or otherwise not done in a legally effective manner, which could invalidate that resignation.  Given the demeanor of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, and the tenor of His few public statements since his departure from the Chair of Peter, this recognition of validity in Benedict XVI seems unlikely. In fact, even before a righteous group of good and authentic cardinals might decide on the validity of the March 2013 supposed conclave, they must face what may be an even more complicated discernment and decide which men are most likely not valid cardinals.  If a man was made a cardinal by the supposed Pope who is, in fact, not a Pope (but merely Monsignor Bergoglio), no such man is in reality a true member of the College of Cardinals.  In addition, those men appointed by Pope John Paul II or by Pope Benedict XVI as cardinals, but who openly violated Universi Dominici Gregis by illegal acts or conduct causing the invalidation of the last attempted conclave, would no longer have voting rights in the College of Cardinals either.  (Thus, the actual valid members in the College of Cardinals may be quite smaller in number than those on the current official Vatican list of supposed cardinals.) In any event, the entire problem is above the level of anyone else in Holy Mother Church who is below the rank of Cardinal.  So, we must pray that The Divine Will of The Most Holy Trinity, through the intercession of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces and Saint Michael, Prince of Mercy, very soon rectifies the confusion in Holy Mother Church through action by those valid Cardinals who still comprise an authentic College of Electors.  Only certainly valid Cardinals can address the open and notorious evidence which points to the probable invalidity of the last supposed conclave and only those cardinals can definitively answer the questions posed here.  May only the good Cardinals unite and if they recognize an ongoing Interregnum, albeit dormant, may they end this Interregnum by activating perfectly a functioning Interregnum government of The Holy See and a renewed process for a true Conclave, one which is purely pious, private, sacramental, secret and deeply spiritual.  If we do not have a real Pontiff, then may the good Cardinals, doing their appointed work “in view of the sacredness of the act of election”  “accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit” and provide Holy Mother Church with a real Vicar of Christ as the Successor of Saint Peter.   May these thoughts comport with the synderetic considerations of those who read them and may their presentation here please both Our Immaculate Virgin Mother, Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and The Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.N. de PlumeUn ami des Papes

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. I will continue to pray for his conversion. Pray, pray pray! 🙏🏼✝️🙏🏼

  2. Allison Wiggins says:

    Thank you for this very concise post. Heaven help us

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