Canon 188 in the 1983 Code of Canon Law reads: “A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.”
This means if an attempted papal-resignation were done under duress, it would be invalid. Keep in mind as you read this that some crimes can be proved, even if the victim denies it. This is true in both criminal law and canon law.
There has been much written on Can. 188 over the past decade by a few traditional Catholic authors. But I believe many Catholics have forgotten two of the most important accounts given not by the friends, but by the enemies of the late Pope Benedict XVI as to how he is reported resigned under duress.
I will now report two LifeSite News (LSN) stories. However, notice that the following two LSN articles reference secular news outlets as their main source of information. The first has to do with the Swiss bishops. The second has to do with the late Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Both of these have to do with the hierarchy trying to scare Pope Benedict XVI off the throne around 2012, and admitting it.
As to the first, there was a biography about Bishop Danneels, head of the so-called St. Gallen mafia. In 2015, secular Swiss radio summarized his biography: “Karim Schelkens, historian and co-author of the biography, said in an interview that the election of Bergoglio has been without doubt prepared in St. Gallen.”
Keep in mind this was on secular Swiss radio, not a Catholic radio station. Still, the alarm at this admission was so great “that a few hours later, that same radio station softened some of its claims,” as LSN reads in the first link above. Obviously, they realized the import of this under Can. 188, for if “the election of Bergoglio has been without doubt prepared in St. Gallen,” then we have not only “a resignation made out of grave fear” (Can. 188) but even an illegal Conclave in 2013. This all explains a lot if we believe canon law without imposing a personal agenda.
The second “forgotten story” is in regards to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Cardinal Bergoglio. In 2014, the liberal British author Austen Ivereigh wrote a book called The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope. It is seen as the gold-standard biography of “the Radical Pope” in the English language. In the first edition of his book, there’s an almost unbelievable admission about what happened a couple years prior: “Murphy-O’Connor was [then] tasked with lobbying for Bergoglio among his North American counterparts as well as acting as a link for those from Commonwealth countries.”
LSN then quotes Ivereigh again in his Great Reformer in regards to an astonishing conversation between Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Cardinal Bergoglio: “They first secured Bergoglio’s assent… asked if he was willing, he said that he believed that at this time of crisis for the Church no cardinal could refuse if asked. Murphy-O’Connor knowingly warned him to ‘be careful,’ and that it was his turn now, and was told ‘capisco’ – ‘I understand.’”—The Great Reformer, edition one, page 355
Notice they just admitted a conspiracy (not “a conspiracy theory”) to scare Pope Benedict XVI off the throne before 2012. The Englishman Mr. Ivereigh was a good source for this information since he served as Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s press secretary according to the UK’s Telegraph before the Cardinal died. These are ultra-liberals admitting (bragging?) about their pressure placed upon Pope Benedict to surrender the Chair of Peter around 2012. It’s old news, but it explains the current mess.
Over the past decade, friends of Pope Benedict XVI have pointed to his resignation under duress. That is often followed by middle-of-the-road Catholics dismissing such claims as “conspiracy theories.” But when such enemies of the late Pope Benedict XVI admit that he resigned under duress, it’s time to pay attention to what this means for the current Vatican apparatus. (And no, “universal acceptance” of a manifest-obstinate heretic does not bind the faithful as I explain here.)
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re sprinkles holy water on the casket of Pope Benedict XVI during its burial in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 5, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)