You have heard that it was said: the conclave is invalid because so many of the electing Cardinals manipulated the election with quid pro quo dealings, bringing upon themselves automatic excommunication and therefore invalidating their voting. Thus, Pope Francis is not Pope.
Then you have heard that it was said: the conclave was valid because none of those automatic excommunications had external effect on voting because those excommunications were not declared, you know, because the only one able to declare such excommunications on the public record, thus affecting voting, is the Pope. But that’s the point, there is no Pope. That’s what the election, the conclave, is all about. Thus, it is said, the election results were illicit but not invalid. Pope Francis is Pope.
But I put forward this question: The mind of the legislator, the previous Pope, is surely well aware of the declaration thing for automatic excommunications, and that is precisely and exactly the reason why he is obviously overriding such universal canon law for the very specific circumstances of a conclave. Duh! Pope Benedict is not a stupid man. The automatic excommunications, even if not immediately known, invalidate the vote if they are of such a number to affect the outcome. An investigation is necessary. Pope Francis is Pope, or he is not Pope.
I’m not a canon lawyer and I’m well aware of those canon lawyers who go apoplectic when non-canon-lawyers make such commentary. But I would ask them to go easy on me since, in fact, I’m only asking a question, with sincerity, willing to be guided. But I am willing to ask the question. I think it is a valid question. Disabuse me of my ignorance.
So, after I wrote this, I spoke with a canon lawyer on the “day off”. He said that it may be that such a specified automatic excommunication may have to “determined” and somehow manifested in the Conclave itself. And now we’re wading into canon lawyer territory and hypothetical conditions inside a given conclave. So…