The Pope Francis Thread

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The Pope Francis Thread

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Pro-life activist and Trump apologist Frank Pavone dismissed from Catholic priesthood

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Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, is shown speaking in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in this 2019 file photo. Pavone has been dismissed from the priesthood. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Frank Pavone, a right-wing provocateur who for years defied requests from the Vatican and multiple U.S. bishops to stop engaging in partisan political advocacy inconsistent with his role as a member of the Catholic clergy, has been dismissed from the priesthood.

In a Dec. 13 letter to the U.S. bishops, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's representative to the United States, said that Pavone — national director of the anti-abortion organization Priests for Life and former advisory board member of the group "Catholics for Trump" — had been found guilty in canonical proceedings of "blasphemous communications on social media" and of "persistant disobedience" of his bishop.

According to Pierre's letter, obtained by NCR, the Vatican's Dicastery for the Clergy informed Pavone of the decision on Nov. 9, noting that his dismissal from the Catholic priesthood cannot be appealed.

Pavone's removal from the clerical state was first reported on Dec. 17 by the Catholic News Agency, which is owned by the Eternal World Television Network (more commonly known as "EWTN") and confirmed by NCR.

The 63-year-old former priest sparked fierce backlash in 2016 when he released a video in which he placed the body of an aborted fetus on an altar and urged Catholics not to vote for the Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.

More recently, he has denied the 2020 U.S. presidential results and spread false lies that Joe Biden did not lawfully win the presidential election.

Pavone was first ordained to the priesthood in the New York Archdiocese in 1988, and, in 1993, became director of the pro-life organization Priests for Life. In 2005, he transferred to the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, with plans to launch an order of priests with the stated purpose of promoting the end of abortion.

Those plans were soon nixed and over the last two decades, Priests for Life, which boasts of being the "largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused on ending abortion," has been engulfed in management and financial scandals.

In 2014, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who had been tapped by the Vatican to help reform the organization, washed his hands of the group, saying he wanted "nothing further to do with the organization."

[…]

Despite claiming to be a non-partisan organization, Pavone has regularly collaborated with the Trump administration and the Republican Party.

[…]

In 2022, Pavone marked the 35th anniversary of his regular television show, "Defending Life," on EWTN, a U.S. Catholic media conglomerate that has become known for its regular antagonistic coverage of Francis and partisan political focus, often supportive of Trump.

According to its most recent publicly available tax documents, in 2018, Priests for Life, which is now headquartered in Florida, had brought in over $10 million that year. Recent communications from Pavone celebrated the forthcoming Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives and said that looking ahead, the organization's focus would be on the 2023 and 2024 elections.

Neither Pavone nor Priests for Life immediately responded to NCR's request for comment about the Vatican's decision.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, however, Pavone received support from one vocal U.S. Catholic bishop who is known for his own vocal opposition to both abortion and Pope Francis.

"The blasphemy is that this holy priest is canceled while an evil president promotes the denial of truth and the murder of the unborn at every turn," wrote Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, who in 2020 endorsed a video that claimed "You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat."

According to Priests for Life's website, five active ministry U.S. Catholic bishops are listed as serving as bishop advisors to the organization: Peter Jugis of Charlotte, North Carolina; Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts; Ralph Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, Clarence Silva, Bishop of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee.

As for Pavone's future, the official statement from the Vatican's U.S. nunciature noted that Priests for Life is not a Catholic organization and it would have to decide the nature of Pavone's relationship to it, given that he is no longer a Catholic priest.
 
 
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The Pope Francis Thread

Post by Del »

Wosbald wrote: 20 Dec 2022, 08:41 +JMJ+

Pro-life activist and Trump apologist Frank Pavone dismissed from Catholic priesthood

The 63-year-old former priest sparked fierce backlash in 2016 when he released a video in which he placed the body of an aborted fetus on an altar and urged Catholics not to vote for the Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
This story has been covered by several secular and Catholic news agencies.

Most mention this story that an aborted child's body was displayed in a video. Reputable news sites refer to a scandal caused by an accusation that the child was displayed on an "altar." These stories also include Fr. Pavone's rebuttal that the video was made of a table in his office, not an altar in a church.

Meanwhile, it should not even be considered scandalous that Catholic clergy should warn Catholic voters against voting for candidates who are full-throated in their support for abortion. The scandal is when cowardly pastors fail to do so.
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The Pope Francis Thread

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If I had to choose between Fr Frank Pavone and pro abortion Jesuit Congressman Fr Robert J. Drinan, I'd prefer Fr Pavone.
Fr Drinan, IIRC won five terms with the blessings of the American Jesuits, who apparently flew Fr Drinan's shenanigans' under the radar of Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, as Drinan disobeyed Arrupe's orders not to run for re-election numerous times(I think, this was back in the 1970's and my memory ain't as good as it used to be) It took an order by JPII for Drinan not to run a sixth time.
Drinan didn't get punished for disobedience, so Francis' issue with Fr Pavone appears inequitable.
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The Pope Francis Thread

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Defrocked pro-life firebrand accuses bishop of ‘constant lies,’ vows to press on

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Fr. Frank Pavone speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court building in Washington during an anti-abortion protest in November 2006. (Credit: Bob Roller/CNS)

ROME — Frank Pavone, long a controversial figure in American Catholicism for his unconventional pro-life advocacy who was recently defrocked by the Vatican, has accused his bishop of abuse of authority and “constant lies,” saying he has no intention of quitting his ministry.

Speaking to Crux, Pavone said Bishop Patrick Zurek, who oversees the Diocese of Amarillo where Pavone was incardinated as a priest, has been threatening to dismiss him from the priesthood for the past five years “under three or four changing, shifting rationales.”

“In American law you go after a crime in search of a person. Something wrong has been done, and you go and track down the people responsible for it. This is the opposite, it’s a person in search of a crime. They’re going after me and they keep changing the reasons why,” he said.

Pavone called Zurek’s actions an “abuse of authority,” and said he is aware that he’s made mistakes in his ministry, but that he has sought to make reparation for those errors and has been obedient to instructions from his superiors to cease and desist certain activities and functions, such as those tied to US politics.

“I want to be a priest. I’m not leaving the church under any circumstances. If you close the door, I’m going to be standing on the other side of the door waiting for it to open again, and, I’m going to keep doing my pro-life work,” Pavone said.

“You tell me whether this is work that’s consistent with the church or not. I’m going to keep doing it, and I’m going to keep faithful to my calling as a priest. That’s a calling, not a piece of paper,” he said.

Dismissal from the clerical state

[…]

Decades of controversy

The Founder and National Director of Priests for Life, which he established in 1990, Pavone has long been a lightning rod in US Catholicism.

In one of his most notable controversies during the 2016 US presidential elections, while also serving as co-chair of Donald Trump’s pro-life coalition, Pavone produced a livestreamed video in which he placed a basket containing the body of an aborted fetus onto an altar. The video, which urged Catholics to oppose Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, caused immediate backlash, with Zurek insisting that he would open an investigation into the incident.

In January 2020, further controversy erupted over his appointment as co-chair of the Pro-Life Voices for Trump coalition and his announcement in April of that year that he would be joining the Catholics for Trump advisory board.

In July of that year, Pavone announced that he would be stepping down from his position on the Catholics for Trump advisory board in compliance with a request from the Congregation for Clergy that he not hold formal titles with political campaigns.

That request was based on Canon 287 of the Code of Canon Law, which states in its second article that clergy “are not to play an active role in political parties … unless, in the judgement of the competent ecclesiastical authority, this is required for the defense of the rights of the Church or to promote the common good.”

Speaking to Crux, Pavone said Zurek’s request that he renounce his priestly duties dates back to at least 2017, when the two of them had a meeting attended by other clergy in which Zurek asked Pavone to limit his prolife advocacy and indicated that he no longer wanted Pavone inside of his diocese.

“I said, okay, you don’t want me to work inside the diocese and you don’t want me to work outside the diocese. You want me out of the priesthood altogether, don’t you?” he said.

Pavone said Zurek initially denied the claim, but a few weeks later sent him a letter asking him to voluntarily request laicization, or Zurek would formally ask the Vatican to do it.

Two years later, in 2019, Pavone said the Vatican “dismissed” Zurek’s request and authorized his transfer to the Diocese of Colorado Springs, which was led by Bishop Michael Sheridan until his death in September of this year.

Once this agreement had been reached, Pavone said the Vatican authorized his transfer but ordered him to stay in his new diocese at least half of the year, restricting his ability to travel as part his advocacy with Priests for Life.

“Neither (Bishop Sheridan) nor I saw that as workable, because the whole purpose here is to enable me to continue this mission and foster this vocation of full-time pro-life work, which is what I’ve been doing for 30 years,” Pavone said.

At that point, Pavone said “we were back to square one, and Bishop Zurek was complaining.”

He said he eventually got wind that the Vatican’s Dicastery for Clergy had issued a ruling on his case with the pope’s approval based on Zurek’s complaints, and was told that needed to have a sit-down meeting with Zurek to go over that decision.

However, Pavone said he refused the meeting after deciding years ago that “I could no longer deal in any way, shape or form, on a human level, with Bishop Zurek, because of the constant lies, manipulation.”

Pavone said he found out about his dismissal from the clerical state over the weekend through media requests for comment on Pierre’s letter.

Defending past record

Pavone defended his record on the allegations of blasphemy and disobedience in Pierre’s letter, saying no one contacted him about the incident with the video of the aborted fetus in 2016, but that “Instead of asking me what happened, all of a sudden I’m seeing in news reports that the diocese is launching an investigation.”

“Talk to me, ask me what happened. Call me, sit down with me. But no, they have to make a big show,” he said, saying Zurek “never asked me once through the whole process, okay, tell me your version of what happened.

“He had his own set of facts in his head, and just went public with those facts even after we refuted them. Ultimately, that became one of his reasons for calling for dismissal from the clerical state,” he said.

In reference to his support for Donald Trump and the former US president’s MAGA movement, Pavone said that in both cases, the video and his political advocacy in the Trump campaign, “the things I was asked to do I did. I was obedient, cooperative, I carried out the changes I was requested to make.”

Pavone also denied the allegations of blasphemy, saying this charge is in reference to an angry tweet he sent out to a Biden supporter during the 2020 election cycle, “when half the country was furious.”

“I went off into some tantrum, and I said ‘G.D. loser Biden supporter.’ I shouldn’t have done that, and I don’t usually do that. It was an unusual moment of anger,” he said, accusing Zurek of blowing the issue out of proportion and making “a theological thing out of it,” saying, “God does not damn these people, Father Frank is declaring theologically that God is damning Biden and the Democrats.”

“It’s like, bishop, are you living in an alternate universe? In this one, where I live, people get mad and people sometimes say things they shouldn’t say and they say them out of anger and you know what, one of the bad things we say sometimes is the G-D word!”

He also lamented the lack of recognition for his lifelong dedication to pro-life ministry, saying Pierre in his letter referred to his association with the pro-life movement in the United States, but there was no sign of appreciation.

“You might want to work in a little phrase, just in passing, his 30 years of work ‘for which the church is grateful,’ or ‘we judge this action to be necessary but we recognize the value of this work, we’re grateful for the commitment.’ But no, they can’t even bring themselves to throw in a little phrase like that, which tells me all I need to know,” he said.

Pavone said he believes part of the reason this decision was made now is “a change in personnel” inside the Vatican, saying there is more than 20 years of back and forth with the Dicastery for Clergy under both John Paul II and Benedict XVI in which attempts to negotiate different solutions were made.

“Under Pope Francis, it’s been different. There’s also been a change in personnel at the Congregation for Clergy … They don’t know the history,” he said, saying he believes there is also “growing frustration” among US bishops over allegations that he has been disobedient.

Referring to his ministry, Pavone said, “There’s no question that there’s nothing which is inconsistent with church teaching. So, what’s the problem? They’ve never been able to tell me or anyone else the problem.”

Going forward

Pavone said that he “absolutely” intends to continue his work regardless of the Vatican’s ruling, and pointed to what he said are several successful ministries within Priests for Life, such as healing and mercy ministries, and he also credited them as having had an impact on the US Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to overturn Roe v Wade.

“We’re proud of the accomplishments, so no, I didn’t go along with (Zurek) telling me stop doing this work, and I’m not going to do that now either,” he said, saying, “it’s full steam ahead.”

“My board and my staff are 1000 percent united behind me and around me and with each other, we’re in a good situation,” he said, saying the supporters of Priests for Life are “supporting us not because of the bishops, they’re supporting us precisely because we’re doing the work they wish their bishops were doing but they’re not. So, I think we’re in a good position for moving forward.”

Pavone said that if the church “closes the door” on him then he will not go away, but will be standing “on the other side of the door. I’m not going to go join some Protestant church or anything like that, I’m sticking with the church and I’m sticking with the priesthood, this is my vocation.”

No Vatican decision can change “what’s in my heart,” and it “doesn’t change my passion and my commitment to this cause, and this mission, it doesn’t change that,” Pavone said, adding, “I’m here. As soon as you want to be reasonable, as soon as you want to open that door again, whether it’s this pope or the next pope, I’ll be around and I’ll walk back through that door.”

Neither the Dicastery for Clergy nor the apostolic nunciature in the United States responded to Crux requests for comment.

The Diocese of Amarillo could not be reached by phone for comment on this story.
 
 
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The Pope Francis Thread

Post by Del »

Hovannes wrote: 21 Dec 2022, 13:50 If I had to choose between Fr Frank Pavone and pro abortion Jesuit Congressman Fr Robert J. Drinan, I'd prefer Fr Pavone.
Fr Drinan, IIRC won five terms with the blessings of the American Jesuits, who apparently flew Fr Drinan's shenanigans' under the radar of Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, as Drinan disobeyed Arrupe's orders not to run for re-election numerous times(I think, this was back in the 1970's and my memory ain't as good as it used to be) It took an order by JPII for Drinan not to run a sixth time.
Drinan didn't get punished for disobedience, so Francis' issue with Fr Pavone appears inequitable.
I am going to have to leave the matter of Fr. Pavone's laicization with the Holy Spirit.

I admire Fr. Pavone (he'll always be "Father Pavone" to me), but I also trust the justice and wisdom of the canon law processes.

It could be that Frank Pavone becomes far more effective as a layman in his pro-life work. It could be that his own merit in heaven is increased by accepting this cross. I pray it will be so.

St. Padre Pio endured a similar suppression of his priestly ministry.
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Antisemitism

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Poles executed for hiding Jews are declared martyrs by pope

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Jozef Ulma and wife Wiktoria, with their family. (Credit: Screen capture)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Saturday declared as martyrs a Polish couple who were executed by German police during World War II for hiding Jews in their farmhouse.

A farmer and beekeeper, Jozef Ulma, and wife Wiktoria in the Polish town of Markowa hid several members of the Jewish community, who were being hunted down during the German occupation of Poland. An informant apparently betrayed them, and the Jews were killed by police in March 1944. The couple were then shot to death along with their six young children, the oldest of whom was 8 years old.

Recognition of martyrdom would permit the couple to be beatified, the last formal step before possible sainthood. After beatification, a miracle attributed to their intercession would be necessary for eventual canonization, as the Catholic church’s sainthood process is called.

According to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, the couple had witnessed the execution of Jews who were seized from their homes during the summer of 1942.

While the search was on for other Jews, a Jewish family of six sought shelter with the Ulmas, who took them in, along with two sisters from another Jewish family, hiding them in the garret of their farmhouse. German police discovered the Jews on the farm and fatally shot them, before they murdered the farmer, his wife, who was seven months pregnant, and children.

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis learned about the Ulma family when he visited Poland during a 2016 pilgrimage. At a public audience in 2018, Francis hailed the family as “an example of faithfulness to God and His commandments, of love for neighbor and of respect for human dignity.”

[…]
 
 
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The Pope Francis Thread

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Fr. Rick Heilman co-hosts a podcast with popular EWTN host Doug Barry. "United States Grace Force Podcast"

Their guest this week is Fr. Frank Pavone -- offering his side of the story and history, his plans going forward (personal appeal to Pope Francis), answering questions. Full hour.




Full disclosure: Fr. Rick is my parish pastor.
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The Pope Francis Thread

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Del wrote: 22 Dec 2022, 10:49[…]

… Fr. Frank Pavone … plans going forward (personal appeal to Pope Francis) …

[…]
If he shows a lil' humility, that, at least conceivably, could work.

Worth a shot, I s'pose.

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The Pope Francis Thread

Post by Del »

Wosbald wrote: 22 Dec 2022, 12:19 +JMJ+
Del wrote: 22 Dec 2022, 10:49[…]

… Fr. Frank Pavone … plans going forward (personal appeal to Pope Francis) …

[…]
If he shows a lil' humility, that, at least conceivably, could work.

Worth a shot, I s'pose.

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I know, right?

That's why I shared the video. Anyone who wants to have an opinion on Fr. Pavone should see his face and hear his voice.

A holy missionary preacher needs to be confident, courageous, and not afraid. It is easy for enemies to portray this as pride and arrogance. We need to see and judge for ourselves, if we dare to support or oppose Fr. Pavone. Or Pope Francis, on any matter.

Historically, most news regarding Pope Francis are either fiercely critical or fawningly supportive. I just don't trust news reports anymore, if I haven't heard the Pope speaking for himself.
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The Pope Francis Thread

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Pope’s big reveal on resignation letter revives an old quandary [News Analysis]

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Yulia Fedosiuk, top left, wife of Arseny Fedosiuk, a member of Azov regiment salutes Pope Francis at the end of his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. (Credit: Andrew Medichini/AP)

ROME — Roughly a year after he resigned the papacy in February 2013, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI found it necessary to respond to an Italian journalist’s query about whether that decision was valid, though his irritation seemed evident.

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” the emeritus pope wrote. “The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculations regarding its validity are simply absurd.”

Benedict was responding to theories that had circulated in some traditionalist Catholic circles to the effect that he had been forced to step aside, perhaps with threats to expose various Vatican scandals, in order to make way for the more progressive Pope Francis.

Bear in mind, those doubts metastasized despite the fact that Benedict XVI delivered his resignation in person, in real time and in his own voice, and in a moment in which he was clearly in full possession of his faculties. (I mean, for the love of God, he proclaimed the resignation in flawless Latin!)

So, imagine what might happen should a papal resignation be announced by someone else, years later, based on a vaguely worded letter which might or might not actually reflect the pope’s will at the moment it was invoked.

That’s precisely the question posed by a recent interview with Pope Francis by the Spanish newspaper Abc, in which the pontiff revealed that shortly after his election in 2013 he signed a letter of resignation in case of medical incapacity and gave it to his Secretary of State at the time, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who resigned shortly afterwards.

Francis did not indicate whether his letter defined what would constitute “incapacity,” nor who would have the authority to invoke the letter and thus declare a sede vacante, meaning a transition from one pope to another.

As Francis noted in the interview, this is not the first time a pope has written such a preemptive resignation.

We know that in 1804, Pope Pius VII signed a document of renunciation should he be imprisoned in France while in Paris to attend Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor. Pope Pius XII likewise signed a similar document in 1943, in case he were kidnapped by the Nazis; according to the legendary Cardinal Domenico Tardini, Pius XII had indicated that if he were taken away, the College of Cardinals would regroup in Lisbon, Portugal, to elect a successor.

St. Pope Paul VI wrote a letter of resignation in 1965 in case of incapacity and kept it in his desk, making his priest secretary, Pasquale Macchi, aware of its existence. The idea was that Macchi would give the letter to the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who could then pronounce the office vacant.

[…]

St. Pope John Paul II wrote two such letters, in 1989 and 1994, which were revealed as part of the document in his canonization process. In them, the pope provided for his resignation in case of “incurable illness” which makes it impossible “to exercise sufficiently the functions of the apostolic ministry.” John Paul specified that the decision to invoke the letter should be made by a group of cardinals, including the Dean of the College of Cardinals, the heads of dicasteries in the Roman Curia, and the Cardinal Vicar of Rome.

Here’s the problem with all the above.

Papal resignations are governed by canon 332, subsection 2, of the Code of Canon Law, which states: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity only that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”

The key word is “freely.” Even if a pope freely signed a resignation letter ten years earlier, how would we know it was still his will when it was actually invoked?

Church historians often cite Paul VI as a cautionary tale, since he eventually changed his mind about resignation, declaring to his confessor, Italian Jesuit Paolo Dezza, that it would be a “trauma for the church.” In one sign of his change of heart, in September 1977 L’Osservatore Romano carried an article titled “Why the pope can’t resign.”

All that, naturally, would have generated serious doubt about the pope’s intent should Paul’s letter ever have been invoked.

The late Father James Provost, one of America’s most renowned canon lawyers, was dubious about the legal validity of undated resignation letters signed in advance and put into effect by someone else. Shortly before his own death in 2000 he wrote in America, “He [the pope] would have to be of sound mind on the date when the letter is eventually dated for it to be canonically valid.”

That’s just one opinion, but it’s likely to be widely discussed and shared should the scenario ever materialize, potentially creating doubts about the legitimacy of a new papacy before it even begins.

In the case of Francis’s letter, there are other question marks.

For one thing, how serious could Francis actually be if he handed it off to an aide who exited the scene ten years ago, and never bothered to follow up to find out what happened to it? For another, it’s not clear from the way Francis described it who would be empowered to invoke the letter’s provisions.

In the past, it’s been assumed that a decision to declare the Throne of Peter vacant would have to run through at least some subgroup of cardinals, if not the entire College of Cardinals. Shortly after Celestine V stepped down in 1294, his successor, Boniface VIII, issued a decretal affirming the validity of that resignation, offering as proof that Celestine had obtained the “concordant counsel and assent” of his cardinals.

Yet under Francis, given the way he’s opened up Vatican leadership to non-cardinals and even non-clergy, it’s not even intuitively obvious that would be his will.

In other words, it’s just not clear to anyone whether, or how, a pope can resign in advance … which, perhaps, helps explain why none of the previous preemptive resignation letters were ever invoked. After all, recall that Pius VII actually was imprisoned by Napoleon from 1809 to 1814, exactly as the pontiff had foreseen, but no one ever tried to declare a sede vacante based on his 1804 letter.

So what would happen if Pope Francis were to suffer a grave medical condition that rendered him permanently incapable of governing, and someone tried to invoke the 2013 letter left in Bertone’s care?

As unsettling as such uncertainty may be, the only honest answer probably is that God alone really knows.
 
 
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"It is not enough to point the finger or attack those who do not think like us. That is a wretched tactic in today's political and cultural wars, but it cannot be the method of the Church."
    — Pope Francis, Meeting, Sept. 17, 2016
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