Popes “Ultimately, what Benedict proposes regarding his ongoing Petrine status is, to use his words, audacious and violent. And if Benedict is objectively wrong, then when he renounced the throne thinking he could still keep the Petrine Ministry [munus], he committed a substantial error, invalidating his renunciation. Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law (1983) mandates that: “[i]f it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his munus, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested…”
The ultimate question then is whether what was subjectively in Benedict’s mind was an accurate or erroneous understanding of the objective reality of the munus Petrinum in the Church’s ecclesiology. If one’s will acts on an erroneous appraisal presented to it by one’s reason, the WILL DOES NOT CHOOSE FREELY. Mistakes of this kind are most frequent in attempts at marriage. Marriage is an objective state of being that does not come into existence except from a free act of the will, which is dependent upon accurate knowledge:
error invalidates the act if it is an error concerning the substance of the act…Error affects consent, for the will in an act of consent elects an object presented to it by the mind. If the mind is in error, the object is imperfectly or incorrectly presented and choice made upon such a premise is not always the same choice that would have been made if the object were correctly known.[xxx]
And we might add in closing, that according to the Church’s law, a resignation must also be “properly manifested” in order to be valid. But since objectively Benedict renounced “the ministry” of Bishop of Rome, and not the “munus,” there is ambiguity—not clear manifestation. “
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