The Real Benedict option in these desperate NOChurch times

The term "Benedict option" is normarlly used to refer to a course of action which leads people away from the midst of a messy society and into seclusion, from where they can regroup and re-introduce sanity into the society. It refers to St. Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism, who did just that and whose monastic communities would go on to save the cultural inheritance of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.

There was a book published not too long ago titled "The Benedict Option" in which an apostate - to Orthodoxy and who is said to be a self-promoter so I'll not mention his name or link to his articles- argues for much the same thing. The fact that St. Benedict strove to secure and promote the Catholic faith does not seem to faze the author, and some reviewers of the book have noted that without the authority of the Church, we would still end up with the same situation since a secluded society, even of moralists, would soon run into disputes about what was moral and what was not. Some would counter that by pointing to the fact that the Catholic Church - at least its earthly hierarchy - has been largely responsible for the destruction of morality in much of the world, a charge I do not dispute. Of course, NOChurch does by no means share the soul of the Catholic Church, but that's a topic for another day.

The biggest fallacy of the author seems to be the presupposition that a secluded society which insists on moral grounds would be left alone by the decadent world around it. There seems to be little grounds for that presupposition given that the modern state does not recognise any sphere in human affairs in which it is not entitled to not only interfere but actually dictate. In the future though, after this particularly self-destructive phase of Western civilisation (or what's left of it anyway) has crumbled, out of the ashes we might well end up having a Benedict option similar to the origial one, which rebuilds what's left of former Christendom.

However, I would like to argue that there does exist in these dark times of the Bergoglian papacy a real Benedict option which we cannot simply dismiss. It requires a re-definition of what is commonly known as the "Benedict option" and it refers rather to a pope, and not a monk, not withstanding the fact that this particular pope told us he would like the life of a monk, though he only manages to make a half-decent impression of one.

The pope in question, of course, is Pope Benedict XVI, and the real "Benedict option" is the notion that Bergoglio is not really the pope, but that Pope Benedict XVI is still the rightful pope.

This notion was popularised by Ann Barnhardt, who pursued it with the "tenacity of of a psychopath", to quote a very good moving which uses the those words to describe  a detective who pursues a very far-fetched theory in attempting to solve a murder of one of his colleagues, and manages to find the murderer in doing so,

As Bergoglio's manners have deteriorated towards total open depravity, more and more have bought into the notion that he is not pope. After all, isn't a Pope supposed to be Catholic? How can a Catholic poke fun at the Holy Trinity? How can a Catholic  insult the mother of God  - multiple times? How can a Catholic insult those who attempt to convert others to the one true faith, while praising some of the most immoral apostates in history in the process? How can a decent priest surround himself with sodomites and paedophile-enablers? How can a pope attack the sacred institution of marriage? How can a pope promote sodomy? How can an even half-decent Catholic shower praise at mass murderers and mass abortionists? How can an even moderately sub-intelligent human being advance the notion that youth unemployment is root cause of evil in the world today? How can a pope state that communists are the real Christians? I could go on and on and on, and on...

The simple answer to that is that Bergoglio is not Catholic, and more or less the only people who believe that Bergoglio is Catholic are the neo-Catholics of the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-or-pretend-it-is-good-if-the-pope-does-it Novus Ordite variety. Most traditionalists, I would argue, have realised that Bergoglio is not pope, and most non-Catholics who follow the man realise that he also is not Catholic, which is why it is popular among modernists and leftists to openly state that Bergoglio is attempting to completely revamp the Church but is being held back by conservatives and resisters (i.e., that he is not Catholic). In fact, Bergoglio has used much the same words, as have a few of his closest collaborators.

In claiming that Bergoglio is not Catholic, I am naturally counting as Catholic someone who actually believes in the Catholic faith, in Holy Mother Church as the Church divinely instituted by Christ, and one who desires to further her divinely-commissioned purpose: the salvation of souls. Strictly speaking, of course, a Catholic is anybody baptised into the Catholic Church by either baptism or blood. That allows us to use a more theological than cultural definition, while also allowing us to rule out as Catholics such as Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Arius and the like, who in a strict application of the term are simply bad Catholics and not non-Catholics.

The basic premise is this: The Church is a communion of faith, and those who deviate or reject even a portion of the faith find themselves outside this communion. Our heretic-in-chief has rejected a large chunk of the faith. Truth be told, it would be difficult to point to any aspect of the Catholic faith that he actually accepts. The only thing he seems to embrace papal authority, albeit with a totally faulty conception of it and its duties, because he really only seems to care for the powers that it enables him to wield over the Church Militant.

For that reason, the Benedict option, or what some have called Francisvacantism, and what I label Bergogliovacantism - because I refuse to grant him the pleasure/respect of using the name he has appropriated for himself - has grown. The theory has come into the realm of respectable discussion and is no longer the cry of one blogger. For instance, the  late Fr. Nicholas Gruner subscribed to this theory. Recently, we had the retired Bishop Gracida expressing this very notion.

The reasons given for subscribing to this theory are many, but the most popular one seems to be that either Pope Benedict's resignation was invalid - either due to being incomplete, coerced or misguided -, or that Bergoglio's carefully-schemed election was invalid, or a combination of both. Some say that the resignation was incomplete because Pope Benedict wanted to resign from part of his ministry but not all. Others say that he was coerced into resigning and since a pope must resign of his own free will, that this would invalidate his resignation. Others claim that it was misguided and therefore invalid because - and this has been fuelled by Pope Benedict's personal secretary himself - the pope considered that it was possible to resign from the active ministry and keep the passive ministry of the papacy, and we are supposed to believe that the world's foremost theologian did not know that the office of the pope cannot be re-invented - a disctinction as fictitious as it is absurd.

It is indeed a striking notion, which if true would certainly enable us to get out of the deep conundrum in which we currently find ourselves. Mind you, this theory does nothing to refute sedevacantism or sedevacantists, since they don't consider Pope Benedict XVI to have been a real pope anyway.

Without taking a direct stand on whether Bergoglio is pope or not - there is obviously a practical problem with this theory. From what I have seen in the media, Pope Benedict is looking quite frail. It is unlikely that he will be with us for much longer. While we would all hope that he outlives Bergoglio, the obvious question is: What happens if Pope Benedict XVI dies before Bergoglio?

Those who absolutely refuse to recognise the potential that Bergoglio could be a real pope - on account of his many heresies - will have a real conundrum then.

There is a theory that says that if Pope Benedict XVI dies, then Bergoglio will become the true pope and receive the graces which are associated with that office. We might in other words witness the peculiar spectacle or Bergoglio withdrawing all his official writings and legislations - which have done nothing but harm the faith - and even, if we are lucky, having him condemn his own writings. For real amusement, he might even change his name to Pope Pius XIII! That is, of course, assuming that the man would co-operate with the graces offered him as pope or bishop, something he would seem never to have done even from his time in Argentina.

It is important to note that Bergogliovacantism has nothing to do with the fact that Bergoglio is a public manifest heretic. The doubts which arose from Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation under mysterious circumstances, and Bergoglio's election under even more enigmatic but clearly orchestrated circumstances would still exist even if Bergoglio had been an impeccable pope, say anything approaching the level of the St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier whose name he chose to besmirch by choosing it upon his election to the papacy.

The doubts are very real, and the Church will sooner or later have to take a stance on them.

I for one, believe that the Church will decide that Bergoglio was never really pope, if nothing else because it is the easy way out, and because there really does not seem to be a rational explantion for the weird circumstances surrounding both Pope Benedict XVI's resignation and his subsequent retirement, on top of the many prophecies which seem directly related to what we are experiencing right now.

That would be somewhat unfortunate, and not a consolation to those of us who have to live during his disastrous pontificate. It would be unfortunate because I would much rather that Bergoglio was condemned as a true pope and not as a false pope or anti-pope, because that would help future Catholics be rid of the ridiculous notion that a pope has to be impeccable. It is simply not a Catholic notion, and we have had popes warning us about heretical popes, and with even Christ Himself having warned us about false shepherds, with no hint whatsoever that the vicar of St. Peter would be exempt from being a false spepherd, it is hard to see how this notion can be reconciled with a truthful Catholic understanding of the Petrine ministry.

We do not know just what kind of pact Bergoglio has made with the devil, and it could just be so that the man ends up outliving each and every one of us. If we are lucky, he will not outlive Pope Benedict, and maybe if he goes first, the truth will come out, and those who cannot fathom Bergoglio as pope will not be confronted with having to take another stance.

We can only pray for Pope Benedict, for we can be sure that hidden away as he is in the Vatican, he is surrounded by the very wolves he implored us to pray against. We can hope that when the Lord finally does decide to take Pope Benedict XVI, any punishment due in purgatory will have been mitigated by his being forced to silently endure the open assault on everything he had tried to restore in Holy Mother Church. Perhaps it is just punishment on him, given that he was part of the problem at the Second Vatican Council, truth be told, even did largely come to see the error of his youthful ways.

In the interests of full disclosure, and for what it counts, my stance is that it really for all practical purposes makes little or no difference: Any faithful Catholic at this point in time is a practical sedevacantist. By that I mean that whether we recognise Bergoglio as a true pope or a false pope, we simply have to ignore everything he says or writes, because he has proved himself to be harmful to the Catholic faith, to the Church's mission and injurious to the harmony of pious souls.

For the time being though, there is a real Benedict option, and so long as the heresy, impiety, hubris, anti-Catholicism of whatver-Bergoglio-is continues, that option will become all the more attractive, if not perhaps even inevitable.