Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Just When You Thought Things Could Not Get Weirder

You've just tuned into St. Corbinian's Bear Ephemeris to see Bobby Ewing in the shower. For those unfamiliar with 1970s American television trivia, the popular prime time soap opera Dallas killed off a major character, Bobby Ewing.

Imagine viewers' surprise in a subsequent season to find Bobby Ewing, in the shower, as if nothing had happened. Indeed, it turned out that the entire ninth season was another character's dream.

Bobby Ewing in the shower: it was all a dream.

So, just when you thought things could not get any weirder, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is Pope Emeritus Benedict's personal secretary as well as prefect of the pontifical household dropped a bombshell. Gänswein, who ought to know, after all, announced during a speech on May 20th to the Pontifical Gregorian University, that Francis did not replace Benedict after all. Instead, we now have an "expanded" petrine ministry, with an "active member" and a "contemplative." Edward Pentin writing for the National Catholic Register goes on to report:

[Gänswein] therefore stressed that since Francis’ election, there are not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member.” He added that this is why Benedict XVI “has not given up his name”, unlike Pope Celestine V who reverted to his name Pietro da Marrone, “nor the white cassock.” 
“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.” 
Archbishop Gänswein repeated that Benedict’s resignation was “quite different” to that of Pope Celestine V.

You can read more about why Pope Benedict's imagined division of labor is impossible at aka catholic.

So, wake up, sleepyhead! The last three years have all been a dream. Benedict's attempted division of labor between two co-popes was a nullity ab initio. Therefore, he never resigned according to any reasonable definition of "resignation." Looking back, the white outfit and lame excuse that it was the only thing he had to wear should have tipped us off.

This sounds crazy, but it sure looks like Benedict's resignation failed, which looks like it nullifies Jorge Bergoglio's election.

The Bear would observe that Pope Benedict's old Archdiocese of Munich-Freising first belonged to St. Corbinian. Pope Benedict has spoken fondly of the St. Corbinian's Bear of legend. It may be that he somehow absorbed a Bearish delight in elaborate jokes and unpredictable behavior. What a finale! This Bear salutes the old white bear.

However, you would have to be smoking peyote to imagine that the Catholic Church is going to say the last three seasons were just a dream, and nothing Jorge Bergoglio said or did counts. Wait for the spin to smooth out Archbishop Gänswein's comments. The Bear is also cautious to make too much about what this looks like when there are probably canon law considerations that bear on the issue. All law everywhere values finality as much as correctness. Three years is a long to time to permit serious contemplation of some Back to the Future scenario.

But feel free to indulge in some innocent fantasies. Those are best kept to ourselves.


  1. It's the Tale of Two Catholic Daddies as told by Abp. Ganswein in the newest chapter of the Canterbury--er, Roman--Tales.

  2. In 500 years, who knows what the historians will say about this time. This wouldn't be the first time the historians have used their pen to cross out a synod, a council, or even a conclave that the people at the time assumed was valid. Stranger things have happened. I don't know what historians will teach about Francis and Benedict centuries from now. But i do know what the theologians will teach about the Eucharist and Marriage. And isn't that what really matters?

    1. The Bear has no idea what will be taught by theologians in five years, much less 500. Theologians are a tricky lot.

  3. I wonder what it would take to get the average pewsitter to think there was anything wrong with Pope Francis and his actions over the last three years. Maybe someone can come up with something so outrageous that the tupical Catholic would condemn him. I can't imagine what that would be. He's the Pope; he gets a pass. Is it any wonder the Catholic Church is in so much trouble, e.g., fear of speaking up, cover-ups, and other various totalitarian and Mafioso suppressions of descent.

    1. Reversing message and teaching sound doctrine.

  4. What's sad here too, is that millions of Catholics will read this and love it. What's not to love about ole Papa Ratzinger with his soft eyes and fluffy white hair tag-teaming with the most loveable, merciful, modern, with-it guy we know as Papa Bergogilo?

    Some foolish Catholics are waiting for the chastisement. What the heck is THIS if not THAT?


    1. "Some foolish Catholics are waiting for the chastisement"

      It is not foolish to expect judgment on wicked generations and nations. It IS foolish if someone tries to predict when that judgment will come, the nature and severity of the judgment, and how long it will last.

      Salvation history is uniform in the pattern of judgment on obstinate wickedness. Warning, warning, warning...judgment.

      You should not call those expecting judgment "foolish". You should call them Church historians.

    2. If I may, I beieve the point made by Barbara is that this is the chastisement and those who are still waiting have missed it right before their eyes.

      85% of Catholics are going to love Pope Francis no matter what. 85% of Catholics are shuffling toward the true periphery of history, while the remainder know where they stand.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Bear,

    You should very careful about handling this topic as it can have ill effects on those already shaken and stirred.

    It was very clear and beyond any dispute that Benedict chose to abdicate as Pope, and the Magisterium recognizes that and elected Francis.

    Just because Ratzinger privately believes he can still "participate" in the pontificate via prayerful contemplation, doesn't make it so. Dressing up in white doesn't make him pope anymore than dressing up in white makes that Michael character pope.

    Privately believing he can "participate" by prayer doesn't invalidate the resignation. It just makes Ratzinger look foolish and tarnishes further his legacy.

    Even Francis believing Ratzinger can "participate" doesn't make it so. And certainly, no babbling by Ganswein makes it so.

    It's too bad to see Louis V fall off the wagon. His arguments against the duality are solid, but the conclusion of Non e Francisco is tragic.

    Don't let anger and dislike of Francis lead you down bad paths. And particularly, don't provide people pry bars to pull those nails out of their feet.

    1. I believe I treated it as a curiosity, and did not endorse any particular conclusion. In fact, I specifically disclaimed any notion that there was a co-papacy or that Francis wasn't pope. I do find it very curious that Gänswein, who, remember, has ties to both popes, waits until now to drop this bombshell. I doubt very much happens by accident in the Vatican.

      This did not come from Benedict. It came from Gänswein. Pentin takes pains to stress that Gänswein stressed these things. Gänswein is a dual agent, and the problem with dual agency is you don't know whose interests he is representing. Do you think B16 or Francis?

      B16 is scheduled to speak June 29 (I think). Maybe he'll admit the invalidity of his resignation, AND reveal the rest of the Third Secret. It's like reading smoke signals from the Vatican.

      Please do not presume the Bear's state of mind. The Bear is curiously non-angry if it makes a difference.

  7. Posts by "unknown" will continue to be summarily deleted.

  8. Benedict XVI is perhaps the most careful theologian of the modern period. He is also very subtle to the point that one will misunderstand him if one doesn't pay attention. (example: He has a tenancy to outline a position that he disagrees with as if he was agreeing with it before very carefully breaking the position apart.)

    Archbishop Gänswein's announcement is much more Ratzingerian than the Fatima denial. It also is congruent with how, then Card Ratzinger used the philosophy of "subsists in", the functioning of the various Churches within the Church universal, and articulations of the Petrine Office. Pope Benedict XVI is also a very symbolic individual -- he doesn't carelessly use symbolism but employs it in a Augustinian neoplatonic fashion. Regardless of this announcement, that Pope Benedict XVI is still in white MEANS something to him.

    That said, it is good to take secondary reports with a large grain of salt, and it strikes me a bit much as trying to find a way to deal with Pope Francis or provide cover for Pope Francis by linking him with Pope Benedict XVI.

    I went and checked the news sources...everything that represented Pope Benedict's temporal Petrine authority was taken away, destroyed, or damaged beyond use. So sovereign ruler of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI is not. Pope Benedict XVI is very smart. His abdication did exactly what he intended it to do. However, even that falls within Archbishop Gänswein's announcement.

  9. I have never trusted Ganswwin, not for any good reason, just a gut feeling that he was a double agent a feeling I always felt guilty about having. I no longer feel guilty. Since his establishment of the papal diarchy I have been referring to the dynamic duo as the Francis the Pope and Benedict the "Nope".


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