News & Views Thursday November 22nd, 2018
Another Socci Bombshell on November 27
by Chris Ferrara
In my column of November 15 I noted the opinion of Monsignor Nicola Bux, no less than a former consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Benedict XVI, that it would be useful to “examine the ‘juridical validity’ of Pope Benedict’s XVI’s resignation and ‘whether it is full or partial.’” This was Bux’s suggestion for addressing “problems that today seem insurmountable to us.’” Meaning the problems of a pontificate that seems to be devoted to undermining the constant teaching of the Church in several areas, flatly contradicting even the teaching of both Benedict and John Paul II. How does one explain such a Pope given the promises of Christ concerning the indefectibility of His Church?
Now, after months of almost total silence concerning this Pope, Antonio Socci emerges with a new book entitled “The Secret of Benedict XVI: Why He is Still Pope” to be released on November 27 by Italy’s Rizzoli publishing house. As Socci explains: “The Church is going through the most serious crisis in her history. Why? What really happened in 2013? And what type of ‘renunciation’ is that of Benedict XVI? Why does he call himself ‘pope emeritus’? What is his current mysterious mission?”
Rizzoli’s promotional blurb offers a tantalizing hint of the contents, suggesting that this will not be a mere rehash of the arguments that some, including Socci himself, have previously advanced for the invalidity of Benedict’s curiously worded resignation:
“The author conjectures that that there could be supernatural events at the origin of his [Benedict’s] decision. Then there is the deciphering of an ancient prophecy concerning Benedict XVI and finally a new revelation which arrives from Fatima. That regards not only the Church, but the whole world.”
What I said concerning the view expressed by Msgr. Bux I say as well concerning this new book of Socci’s, which I expect to review for The Fatima Center: I have no comment on the merits of the contention that Benedict is in some way or other still the Pope — a contention made possible only by the ambiguous and confusing manner in which he resigned the papacy by declaring “I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome” only to retain his papal title, papal garb, and residency in the Vatican. Nothing like this has ever been seen in 2,000 years of Church history.
What I would say is this: that sober and highly intelligent observers of the ecclesial scene like Bux and Socci are driven to such speculations, and driven as well to air them publicly, is symptomatic of the utterly astounding behavior of the current occupant of the Chair of Peter, who seems, incredibly enough, intent on attacking rather than defending the Church of which he is the earthly head.
Both of these men are grappling in good faith with an historical realization of the hypothetical scenario described by Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, in response to the claim that a wayward Pope may be deposed by his subjects for the same reason that, in self-defense, they could kill a Pope who unjustly aggressed against them with deadly force:
“I respond firstly by denying the consequent, because no authority is required to resist an invader and defend oneself, nor is it necessary that the one who is invaded should be a judge and superior of the one who invades; rather, authority is required to judge and punish. Therefore, just as it would be lawful to resist a Pontiff invading a body, so is it lawful to resist him invading souls or disturbing a state, and much more if he should endeavor to destroy the Church. I say, it is lawful to resist him, by not doing what he commands, and by blocking him, lest he should carry out his will; still, it is not lawful to judge or punish or even depose him, because he is nothing other than a superior. See Cajetan on this matter, and John de Torquemada. [Controversies of the Christian Faith, trans. Ryan Grant (Mediatrix Press: 2015), p. 303.]”
To one who regards as outlandish the claim that Pope Francis is endeavoring to destroy or at least seriously harm the Church (no matter what his subjective intentions, which are for God to judge), I would respond by quoting Francis’ own words in Evangelii Gaudium (n. 27):
“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
When has the Church ever witnessed the spectacle of a Pope who sees an opposition between his “dream” and the Church’s self-preservation, which he openly declares he is prepared to risk for the sake of his “dream”? Perhaps Socci’s book will shed new light on how we have arrived at this absolutely unprecedented state of affairs — a state of affairs the Blessed Virgin cannot have failed to mention in Her still-suppressed explanation of the visional aspect of the Third Secret of Fatima.