I’ve had a lot – A LOT – of emails about various aspects of the possibility of Pope Francis’ resignation. There is talk about this, since The Viganò Testimony. More and more people are calling for Francis to resign. That’s a popular trend these days, however. If someone has a bad hair day, they MUST RESIGN! Seriously, this is a far graver situation than that, but it is hard for me to imagine that Francis would consider abdicating even for 2 full seconds.
Nevertheless, I am getting questions along this line.
From a reader…
Hi Father, If in whatever way, Pope Francis stopped being Pope; Canonically, could Pope Benedict renounce his resignation and return to the Papacy? Mentally, it seems that he is very alert and he could be in office just long enough to remove bad members of the hierarchy and replace them with good ones and then again and then a conclave could be called and a new Pope could be elected?
Let’s think this through.
If Francis were to resign…
Scenario 1: There would be a conclave, the cardinals would come and elect a successor. They are free to elect whom they wish. They could re-elect Benedict! He could then accept or refuse. Say he accepts. He is again, indisputably, the Pope hopefully until the natural end of his days. Enough of this resignation stuff.
Scenario 2: Francis resigns. However, enough evidence is produced to prove that there was something wrong with Benedict’s resignation in 2013. They say Benedict was pressured out of office and his resignation was null. That means that Benedict is still the Pope now. He can’t be reelected. Any conclave that would be called after Francis resignation from an office he never held would be seriously compromised because a) lots of the cardinals in it aren’t really cardinals and b) the man elected would be an anti-Pope. Benedict would be Pope thereafter until his dying day. Unless he resigned for real.
Scenario 3: Benedict really did resign, but there were enough shenanigans in the conclave, violations of JP2’s and B16’s regulations, that the electors or the elected were somehow banned from licit participation or holding office. That would mean that the results of the election were faulty and that there is now an anti-Pope. But there isn’t a true Pope either because Benedict legitimately resigned. That would mean that the cardinal electors who were cardinals at the time of Benedict’s resignation in 2013 would have to convince every one that they alone should be in a new conclave and elect Benedict’s successor. They could re-elect Benedict if they wanted to. Then, see the end of Scenario 1.
Scenario 4: Francis resigns and two factions of cardinals gather in separate, rival conclaves. They might elect different guys… or the same guy! A third party? Benedict? Probably different guys. Then we have a problem that is harder to work through.
Shades of the Council of Constance!
And in that time, there were rival claimants and questionable cardinal electors and saints on both sides and post factum sanations of acts. Whew.
Anyway, one could write a rip-snorter TV series out of this!
Anyway, I would once again be able to dust off my old “RE-ELECT BENEDICT” Swag in my online shop from before the 2013 conclave and we could reform the “Committee To Re-Elect The Pope“. I shut that shop down after the 2013 conclave, of course. But there was some fun stuff in it! Car-flags, stickers, campaign buttons, yard signs.
I have an old button, still.