Thursday, November 27, 2014

Who's the Pope? Latin to the Rescue!!!

Apparently, there is a claim being made by various conspiracy theorists that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was invalid, owing to a grammatical error in the text.

Now, I was the one who spotted a mere typo in the text of the resignation. And my attention to this point was apparently noticed by people at the Vatican and the typo was officially corrected.

But the conspiracy theorists are now claiming that a grammatical error in the central sentence announcing resignation makes the resignation a nullum factum, a non-act.

Here's the text of the resignation:
Declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commissum renuntiare.

I declare that I resign the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me through the hands of the Cardinals on April 19, 2005.

Following the infinitive renuntiare, the past participle from committo, committere, commisi, commissum should have been "commisso" in the dative, modifying ministrio, which is in the dative.

But as originally delivered by the then Pope Benedict XVI, it was not in the dative. 

If you watch and listen to his formal declaration, he clearly does pronounce the word in question as "commissum."

While the official Vatican website has corrected the error, the Vatican News Site still lists the text as originally issued and uttered.

Conspiracy theorists are claiming that Pope Benedict XVI intentionally introduced the grammatical error so that he could, if necessary, claim his resignation was invalid and emerge once again as Pope.

What the conspiracy theorists are missing is that the grammatical error is not the real issue here. Canon Law which governs the process of a Pope resigning is the key to whether the resignation was validly issued or not.

Here's the Canon in question:

Canon 332 §2: If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.

Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad va­liditatem requiritur ut re­nuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur

The  key word for validity here is rite. The dictionary definition of the word is:

"in a proper manner," "justly," "with due ceremonies"

There is nothing within the word rite that would imply that, for an act to be conducted rite, it must be free of grammatical errors.

It is evidently clear that Pope Benedict XVI intended his resignation that day. Indeed, he resigned and went off to a monastery while the Cardinals conducted an election.

It was a valid act which succeeded, under Canon Law, in resigning himself from the See of Peter.

Pope Benedict XVI resigned the Papacy. I wish him many years of healthy life.

Pope Francis is now the Bishop of Rome. I wish him as well many years of healthy life and a fruitful ministry. I especially pray that his visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople will bring further unity to the Church of God. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Your convincing analysis here recalls the wise decision by the Historical Church, in the case of the “ex opere operantis” controversy.
    BLUF for my linguistic students: You can still get into Heaven, even should you happen to misconjugate a verb (which misconjugation, however, is still *very very wrong* !)