"I didn't see, I don't see any Great Pope or Great Monarch before an extremely great tribulation, horrifying, terrible and general for all Christendom. But before that time, twice there will be a short lived peace; two shaky, servile, doubtful popes" Mélanie
Is a Papal Diararchy Possible?
Papalotry does not exist in an abstract sense: today, for example, we need to speak in a more precise way of Francisolatry, but also of Benedictolotry, as Miguel Ángel Yáñez observed well, on Adelante la fé . This papalotry can come to counterpoising Pope against Pope: the followers, for example, of Pope Francis against those of Pope Benedict, but also of looking for harmony and coexistence among the two Popes, imagining a possible division of their roles. What took place on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, was significant and unsettling. All of the media’s attention was focused on the case of a letter of Benedict XVI to Pope Francis: a letter, which turned out to be manipulated and caused the resignation of the head of Vatican communications, Monsignor Dario Viganò. The discussion, revealed however, the existence of a false premise, accepted by all: the existence of a sort of papal diararchy, of which there’s Pope Francis who carries out its functions, and then there’s another Pope, Benedict, who serves the Chair of Peter through prayer, and if necessary, with counsel. The existence of the two Popes is admitted as a done deal: only the nature of their relationship is argued. But the truth is that it is impossible that two Popes can exist. The Papacy is not dismountable: there can be only one Vicar of Christ.
Benedict XVI had the ability to renounce the papacy, but consequently, would have had to give up the name of Benedict XVI, dressing in white, and the title of Pope emeritus: in a word, he would have had to definitively cease from being Pope, also leaving Vatican City. Why did he not do so? Because Benedict XVI seems to be convinced of still being Pope, although a Pope who has renounced the exercise of the Petrine ministry. This conviction is born of a profoundly-erroneous ecclesiology, founded on a sacramental and not juridical conception of the Papacy. If the Petrine munus is a sacrament and not a juridical office, then it has an indelible character, but in this case it would be impossible to renounce the office. The resignation presupposes the revocability of the office, and is then irreconcilable with the sacramental vision of the Papacy.
Cardinal Brandmüller rightly judged as unintelligible the attempt to establish a sort of contemporaneous parallelism of a reigning Pope and a praying Pope. “A two-headed Pope would be a monstrosity”, says Cardinal Brandmüller, who adds: “Canon Law does not recognize the figure of a Pope Emeritus” (...) “The resignee, consequently”, “is no longer Bishop of Rome, not even a cardinal.”
Regarding the doubts, then, about the election of Pope Francis, Professor Geraldina Boni, remembers that Canonists have always taught that the peaceful “universalis ecclesiae adhaesio” (universal ecclesial acceptance) is a sign and infallible effect of a valid election and legitimate papacy, and the adhesion or acceptance of Pope Francis by the people of God has not yet been doubted by any of the cardinals who participated in the Conclave. The acceptance of a Pope by the universal Church is an infallible sign of his legitimacy, and heals at the root every defect of the papal election (for example, illegal machinations, conspiracies, et cetera). This is also a consequence of visible character of the Church and of the Papacy.
A nemine est judicandus, nisi a fide devius...
The juridical character of the Petrine office is described well by a canonist, above all suspicion, the former rector of the Gregorian University, Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, when during the time of transition between the last two pontificates, dedicated a clear article in Civiltà Cattolica to “The Vacancy of the Roman See.” “The vacancy of the Roman See occurs in case of the cessation of the office on the part of the Roman Pontiff, which happens for four reasons: 1) Death, 2) Sure and perpetual insanity or complete mental infirmity; 3) Notorious apostasy, heresy, schism; 4) Resignation.”
Father Ghirlanda explains: “In the first case, the Apostolic See is vacant from the moment of death of the Roman Pontiff; in the second and in the third from the moment of the declaration on the part of the cardinals; in the fourth from the moment of the renunciation."
At this point, Father Ghirlanda lingers on the case of a heretical Pope. There is no reference to a Pope, since in the month of February 2013, no one had yet been elected. Father Ghirlanda refers to an “academic example”: “There is the case, admitted by doctrine, of notorious apostasy, heresy and schism, into which the Roman Pontiff could fall, but as a “private doctor,” that does not demand the assent of the faithful, because by faith in the personal infallibility that the Roman Pontiff has in the carrying out of his office, and therefore in the assistance of the Holy Ghost, we must say that he cannot make heretical affirmations, wishing to utilize his primatial authority, because if he were to do so, he would fall ipso iure from his office. However, in such cases, because ‘the first see is judged by no one’ (Canon 1404) no one could depose the Roman Pontiff, but only a declaration of the fact would be had, which would have to be done by the Cardinals, at least of those present in Rome. Such an eventuality, however, although foreseen in doctrine, is held to be totally unlikely, by the intervention of Divine Providence in favor of the Church”.
Father Ghirlanda is in this exposition, neither a traditionalist nor a progressivist, but a scholar who has gathered a thousand years of canonical tradition.
If, in the field of philosophy and theology, the undisputed summit of Christian thought is represented by Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the field of Canon Law, the equivalent of that School, is represented by Gratian (Magister Gratianus) and his disciples.
Recalling an assertion of Saint Boniface, bishop of Mains, Gratian affirmed that the Pope “a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius” (is judged by no one, except when he deviates from the Faith).
This principle is reiterated in Summa decretorum, by Huguccio, or Hugh of Pisa, considered the most famous magister decretorum, master of decrees, of the XII Century.
Father Salvatore Vacca, who traced the history of the axiom Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur (the First See is judged by no one), recalled that “the thesis of the possibility of a heretical Pope would be held in consideration... during the whole of the Middle Ages, until the time of the Western Schism (1379-1417).
In the case of a heretical Pope, the principle according to which Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur , is not violated, in the first place because, according to canonical tradition, this principle admits only one exception, the case of heresy; in the second place because the cardinals would be limited to only certifying the fact of heresy, as would happy in the case of the loss of mental faculties, without exercising any deposition of the Roman Pontiff. The cessation of the primatial office would only be acknowledged and declared by them.
Theologians argue whether the loss of the pontificate would arrive at the moment in which the Pope falls into heresy or only in the case of the heresy becoming manifest or notorious, and publicly spread.
Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira holds that although an incompatibility in radice (at the root) exists between heresy and papal jurisdiction, the Pope does not lose his office until the time when his heresy becomes manifest. The Church being a visible and perfect society, the loss of the faith by her visible Head would need to be a public fact. As a tree can live for a certain time after its roots have been severed, so can jurisdiction be maintained precariously by the possessor, even after a fall into heresy. Jesus Christ maintains the person of the heretical Pontiff in his jurisdiction provisionally, until the Church recognizes the deposition.
What is certain, is that recognizing the possibility for a Pope to fall into heresy does not mean in any way, diminishing the love for and devotion to the Papacy. It means admitting that the Pope is the Vicar, not always impeccable and not always infallible, of Jesus Christ, only Head of the Mystical Body of the Church. Source