Update late 2019: Conclave validity review: Francis may not be Pope

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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…

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Update late 2019: Conclave validity review: Francis may not be Pope

  1. elizdelphi

    Cardinal Burke is going to be here in my diocese for a Dec 7th event that I will be at, a benefit dinner for a great Catholic school here (actually I bought 2 tables so EVERYONE from my book study group can come). He’ll also celebrate a Mass for attendees at the church a block from my apartment. So I’ll be seeing him and could ask any reasonable questions. But I would hesitate to ask this because I know he’s said only very recently that people have proposed to him any number of reasons why they think Pope Francis’ election was not valid and he does not find them persuasive so he believes Francis is Pope and acts accordingly. And he was in the conclave. So he may be trying to say he prefers people not to keep approaching him with theories about why Francis is not legit.

  2. Aussie Mum

    Back in 2016 canon lawyer Dr Edward Peters, who holds the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, said that an heretical pope loses his office but cannot be removed; “nevertheless, a general council could determine that a pope had committed heresy, and in doing so, had effectually cut himself off from the true vine, thereby forfeiting his office.” (Peters citing Franz Wernz)
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/canon-law-tradition-says-a-pope-who-commits-formal-heresy-ceases-to-be-pope

    • Father George David Byers

      Hmmmm. “Determine.” So would the Dean of the College of Cardinals in a conclave determine that said cardinals were now considered excommunicate? “Undetermined” but known heretical bishops can posit valid executive acts such as appointing pastors. Anyway, I gotta wonder about the opinion cited above. I’m not convinced.

  3. Aussie Mum

    I don’t believe the claim by some over the last 6 years that Pope Benedict Emeritus has betrayed the Church by his resignation. He was a good pope and wouldn’t have knowingly done anything of his own accord to harm the Church. That’s not to say that he might not have been forced to resign under threat that a greater harm would be visited upon the Church if he did not. I have also wondered if Our Lord told him to step aside so that a greater good (the heretics and apostates in the hierarchy uncovered and dealt with) could come out of it. I have also wondered if there is a loophole in the careful wording of his resignation that means he is still pope.

    • Aussie Mum,
      I am with you on the thought that Our Lord spoke to him, leading him to step aside. The purpose being for the greater good and leading the Church closer to what Jesus taught.

      My words are clumsy, please forgive me.

      • Aussie Mum

        Your words aren’t clumsy CherryPie. It’s lovely to hear from someone who doesn’t think I’m odd for thinking as I do about Pope Benedict. I was verbally abused on another site in 2013 for defending him. People there were furious about his resignation and very nasty toward him. Needless to say I don’t go to that site anymore. It’s lovely here with a good priest and kind laity.

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