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A Brief Note on The Question of a Legally Valid Papal Election

Image: Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, The Sistine Chapel (5967688938), CC BY 2.0.

Because this comes up on a fairly regular basis, I wanted to just take a brief look at the source of one of the most common claims that Pope Francis was not validly elected, according to the Church’s own rules for conclaves. It is generally based on the acknowledged existence of the so-called “Sankt Gallen Mafia” which conspired, by the admission of some of the curial members, to elect Bergoglio to the papacy. In the view of some, this means that the proscription against canvassing or pacts in papal elections in the Church’s rules were violated, and the penalties on the books thus apply, invalidating the election.

So let’s take a quick look.

Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG) is the document that was created by JPII to govern conclaves. People use paragraph 76 of UDG to try to invalidate the election of Bergoglio, but I don’t think that works at all. This is what that paragraph says:

“76. Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”

And yet, #76 precedes the proscription against canvassing, making clear, in my view, that what precedes #76 is what is being referred to as the “way…prescribed” for an election to take place, which, if it were deviated from, would nullify the election.

But what precedes #76 of UDG has nothing to do with what the Sankt Gallen Mafia did. The rules pertaining to their efforts are found within a latter section:


78. If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae. At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.23

Then we get to the part people think is the smoking gun:

81. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.

82. I likewise forbid the Cardinals before the election to enter into any stipulations, committing themselves of common accord to a certain course of action should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, I also declare null and void.

You will note that this section — mentioning the behavior of the members of Sankt Gallen — follows the commentary on Simony — which is of course just as bad as collusion, if not worse. And yet, that section EXPLICITLY states that JPII has removed the election-nullifying consequence of simony such that “the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged”.

After that statement, nowhere in the following paragraphs is nullity of an election even implied due to the “matters to be avoided”, including #s 81 & 82.

People read into UDG what they want to read. In my view, the document doesn’t say it. I think we have to look at it from a legal basis, which is going to take into account the specifics of how the document is structured and where the penalties are laid out – and aren’t.

A final caveat — I’m neither an expert in canon law nor in the documents that govern conclaves. If anyone is who would like to supply a more authoritative interpretation, I’d be happy to publish it here.

Correction: the original title of this post was “A Brief Note on The Question of a Canonically Valid Papal Election”. Since UDG is not a matter of canon law, we have amended the title to say “Legally Valid”. We apologize for the error. 

177 thoughts on “A Brief Note on The Question of a Legally Valid Papal Election”

    • I think John Taylor’s question above is a good one.

      Hate to say it, but it causes me to question my previous position.

      I just don’t know.

      Not that it matters in anything like the near future, I suppose, and certainly the whole thing matters not to a guy who has no authority to rule on it anhow.

      But I’ll be waiting to see if someone else has, and does!

      • I still hold my longstanding position, which I will restate and then explain my.

        My position is this: it is possible that some future pope or council will find Pope Francis to be an anti-pope, but until that time we must treat Francis as the legitimate pope.

        Why? First, humility. Even if I were the most intelligent, perfectly analytical mind on earth, I’m a layman. Further, I’m a layman without any credentials as regards canon law, or anything… It is simply above my station to make any sort of declaration. This is perhaps an antiquated, monarchical way of thinking but it is correct. All the bishops and the overwhelming majority on clergy and lay faithful accept Francis as pope. Who am I to object?

        Secondly, it is safe. Pope Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctum declared that it is necessary for salvation that man be subject to the Roman Pontiff (slight paraphrase.) Therefore I must be subject. And if by some defect of intention Benedict is still pope (which I see almost no evidence for, despite much protestation) it seems clear that Benedict intends us to accept Francis as Pope. Furthermore, if the See is vacant and when I come to my judgement I do believe Our Lord will look more kindly upon one who was trying to live according to the divinely established order than one who decided not to because of their own power of reasoning… one is like a child, the other rebellious.

        TL;DR it is obedience and humility that compel me to accept Francis as pope. I lack these in many areas of my life, but here I think I’m ok. Believe me, I really wish Francis was an anti-pope. Then I could just ignore his nonsense… but until that day has come, I must accept.

        • I’m with you, Jafin.

          What’s incredibly frustrating is that despite this, I am constantly accused of being prideful and disobedient, simply for saying the Holy Father is wrong.

          • If one accepts a man as Pope, he also accept that the pope has the authority in matters of Faith an morals, so what you are describing is not the way one acts toward an authentic Pope when he is giving directives about matters such as communion to those in adulterous marriages or acceptance of homosexual unions as if the couple were not objectively living in grave sin. The problem for Catholics as I see it has more to do with the present popes actions, directives and omissions, than whether he was invalidly elected…in which case it would be easier to remove him if it could be proven. If a man is not functioning as a true Pope then how can Catholics be expected to respond to him with obedience as they normally would to a Pope?

  1. The sad reality that has to be faced is that a person such as Bergolio could never have been elected had not John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointed as Cardinals so large a number of Modernist, as for example Kasper. Any idea why they did this? With Bergolio’s additions, I see no way for the destruction not to continue.

    • It might be more pertinent to ask why JPII ignored Peter Hans Kolvenbach SJ (superior general) when he told him not to touch Bergoglio with a barge pole. Both he and BXVI seemed to think that appointments to the episcopate should be shared out between men who thought like them and men who opposed them – maintaining some kind of sick Hegelian balancing act. We can’t know for sure why they did this, but I suspect it was to “maintain the Church’s unity” by holding competing factions in tension as though it were a political party. Francis does not seem to be limited by these kind of concerns.

      If the rumours are true that Francis is considering abolishing the College of Cardinals in order that he can appoint his own successor, then I am sure the destruction will continue for a long time yet. God alone can save us so we had better get on our knees..

      • I’ve never heard this rumor. Who is trafficking it? Maybe I’m naive, but such a move would indicate the pope has completely lost touch with reality, and I can’t believe anyone could fail to see it.

        • “Maybe I’m naive, but such a move would indicate the pope has completely lost touch with reality”

          I think that’s already been indicated many times over.

        • I’ve heard that Kolvenbach thought Bergoglio was a “sociopath.” If you search around you’ll find some varying reports on this from places of varying credibility. I don’t know that anyone has ever seen the letter.

          Here’s the first one that comes up. I provide no endorsement, nor have I read it it (well, I might have, but not recently. I read so much of this stuff). Just gave the first couple paragraphs a quick skim:

          • Well, if Francis in fact disbands the College of Cardinals, Kolvenbach’s assessment will be fully confirmed.

          • But my friends, why would he need to do so? He’s filling it with his kind.

            Give Bergi credit for being smart. He knows exactly what he wants and he’s “armed for bear, Buckaroo” to do it. But he can be subtle, too, and also he’s not acting alone. (Yes, I say that in both human, earthly terms, and spiritual ones.)

            In the end, he’s a committed “Party Man”, a true Modernist. And he’s the toughest pope since St. Pius X. Would that JP2 or B16 had that toughness!

            Raghn Corvinus

          • “And he’s the toughest pope since St. Pius X.”
            Maybe that’s why he doesn’t have a problem with the SSPX? He’s basically the anti-Pius X

            “Would that JP2 or B16 had that toughness!”
            More and more, I’m thinking the same thing

          • Okay. Now I am thoroughly confused. I am new to this site and you will, I hope, forgive me that I know so little about the life of our present Pope before he became Pope. But I read the article you cited at Rorate Caeli, and it speaks very clearly to the fact that Francis strongly opposed the whole leftist Liberation Theology nonsense, and for that he was shunned. Doesn’t that speak well of him??

          • Keep in mind all of the article.
            He is a poser. A deceiver.
            He has always done what he has do to achieve his goals and get his way — for him. This is the characteristic of all leftists, and absolutely no less of Roman Catholic clerical leftists. If you have ever been in religious life you would know them to be absolutely reptilian.
            Simply observe the statements and comportment of bishops while John Paul was pope, Benedict as pope, and now.
            No. That is not evangelical obedience. At best its cowardliness.
            In reality, for many of them, it is where they really are.
            Atheism within the clergy class is rife. Roman Catholic practices are merely a comforting memory of the transcendent they once embraced and to which they no longer give assent. I term it romantic transcendental atheism. It is viral.
            He is a liar.
            Did Jorge Mario Bergoglio just come to his current perspective by the grace of the Holy Spirit the moment he was elected pope?
            No. He was keeping his mouth shut in certain circumstances to cover his posterior, but yapping away in the cliques that could support and advance him.
            It is the human way, given our fallen state, and it is no less true — perhaps more so — given the small world of religious life.
            The tragedy is that leftists are all liars and they not only deceive others but, given the state of their disorientation they are, tragically, self-deceived. They defy common sense, estimating themselves to be intellectually advanced, morally superior and deeply “spiritual.” You know the, “I’m spiritual, not religious” crew.
            Its a rainbow of absurd positions which make no sense in the light of any facet of reality.
            Read the interview with George Neumayr presented here at 1P5 last May:
            Neumayr’s book is everything you wish you didn’t know about the Pope Francis — and I fear its only what is floating at the top of the bowl.
            And while you read it, recall the infamous picture of Jorge Mario Bergoglio kissing the hammer and sickle crucifix gifted him by the dictator of Bolivia and remember the hundreds of millions tortured and murdered by Marxists.

          • Thank you so very much for treating my question so seriously. My education about this man is just beginning. I will say I am struck by so many things you said but one, in particular, stands out : “Roman Catholic practices are merely a comforting memory of the transcendent they once embraced and to which they no longer give assent. ” That description sounds like something that might be said about Lucifer and the other fallen angels.

          • Attack the shepherds and scatter the flock.
            We need to pray for our priests — and for each other.
            God bless you. Christ IS with us. It will find His correction. Hang on!

          • God be with you Anne. Bergoglio is truly a scourge to the Holy Church but what is most troubling to me is to see so many posters on other sites still refusing to see that the problem is Bergoglio. We must defend our loved ones and especially our children from the influence of this man. But in order to do this first we must recognize the evil that he says and does.

          • The ‘sociopath’ thing is something that I’m wondering if it cannot be confused with something else. Something that may from time to time mimic sociopathy but something of a ‘spiritual’ malady. I don’t think I need to elaborate.

        • See “Remnant TV” at:

          I watched Michael Matt’s presentation last evening and he mentioned this rumor — noting it was just that “a rumor” — but given the nature of the pontificate and the cartel running it … who knows?
          Its an excellent presentation, and well worth prayerful watching. A half hour on your knees.
          Mention of the tinkering with the College of Cardinals comes toward the end — I can’t say where. What was most profoundly disturbing was the proposal that the move would provide for the Pope to name his own successor.
          Just think of that…
          Now that would be the unambiguous proof of all that we know of the petty little third world dictator. I think he will prefer to sport his masque and merely pack the College with individuals of Lutheran allegiance. He enjoys the pantomime of appearing cognitively and emotionally balanced — you know, credible.

      • The influx of modernists into the hierarchy actually began before St. Pius X, the increasing numbers prompted the Oath Against Modernism. As a result it slowed markedly for a time, but many of those who signed the Oath lied and kept their worldview to themselves as have the communists. Consequently, having “behaved themselves,” they moved up the ranks, got elevated to bishops and then to cardinals by Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI as well as JPII and Benedict XVI. We can’t blame it all on the last two before Francis, except for the changes made to the election and removal of a pope by JPII, which I believe may have been with a purpose – looking toward the future election of Francis. He, Francis, actually may be the Last pope [I read sonewhere long before Francis that St. Malachi’s reference to the last pope (which, by number, Francis is) as “the Roman” was based on an overwhelming characteristic of the last pope that he would be autocratic and behave as if he were a Roman emperor.]

        • THANK YOU for writing this. The whole project has been going on for over a 100 years now, and has used both a long-running “war of position” and (especially now) open “war of maneuver”, not to mention a “long march through institutions”.

          Benedict XV had WWI to contend with, and Pius XI the Communists and the rise of the Fascists. Pius XII personally saved many Jews, and of course WWII was big on his plate, but he still let a lout like Hannibal (Grace of Ba’al) Bugnini to run rampant in his Vatican; also, P12 didn’t appoint young, healthy, solid orthodox bishops to the Cardinalate. Poor ol’ John23 was clueless, and Paul6 was “their man”, the tool of the Modernists (till he panicked and issued Humanae Vitae. Albino Luciani was to be yet another – and more pliant – Paul6, but died (of fright, perhaps; certainly stress).

          As for St. Malachi, as a fellow Irishman I’d point out that his “prophecy” doesn’t date back to him, not remotely. FWIW, of course. These may well be the End Times. We’ll see.

          Raghn Corvinus

          • Unfortunately not what I would call 100% orthodox. Like they swallowed V2 hook, line and sinker along with the NO. But it was close. Don’t know what it’s like now with Francis. I’ve heard there are very few, if any, that are 100% orthodox.

          • Ugh, well, I guess you were there when the going was good, as it were.

            JP2 and B16 kept the Vat2 Church as orthodox as it was, but Bergi has brought it back on course to “self-destruct”.

            Time will tell.


          • As his time grows shorter, Satan becomes more frantic, more desparate, more vicious, more enraged and we are only at the beginning of his final tantrum and rampage. More and worse will come and fairly soon.

          • I was under the impression that John Paul I was more traditional, not less, than Paul VI and that was why he was offed

          • If he was “offed”, we’ll never know now, unless someone confesses. And i don’t know that he was more “traditional”, either. It seems that he was, from some of his writings. He was also a mild-mannered guy tossed into a snake pit.

            But the choice of name was odd. Seems he didn’t want to chart his own course. His successor was ordered to take the name “John Paul” though he didn’t want to do it.


          • Well I say “offed” because that’s the general belief of those who believe there is a collusion and conspiracy in the Church. Idk…

            What name would Wojtyla allegedly have chosen had he not been pressured to choose John Paul II?

        • In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture (feed) his sheep in many tribulations

          Hmm. How can you possibly be saying that PF is pasturing or feeding the sheep? He is poisoning the sheep which means he is despoiling them.

          Peter the Roman is most likely St. Peter himself.

          • You are correct, but I did not say what PF is feeding them (us). ‘For food they gave me poison and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.’ This paraphrase from I forget which psalm directly applies to Jesus Christ and His passion, but it also applies to us for we are the body of Christ. We hunger and thirst for Truth and Holiness and are fed wuth deceptions, heresies and demonic destruction. Certainly the Church is and has been suffering many tribulations, especially under Francis. If this final entry in “Malachi’s list” is accurate, my statement need not correspond perfectly to the text you quoted.

        • Malachi prophecy may be counted wrong, If a Pope can not validly retire then those Anti-Pope’s may not have been included in his list.

      • He’s considering what????

        Do you have a citation for this???

        Also, as such a long tradition… can he actually do that? I mean… huh…

      • The balancing act is why we lose so often and defeats are so ongoing, even if occasionally we get a win. Not just in Church but in politics and everything.

        Traditionalists/ Conservatives have tried to play fair, to give the opposition an opportunity to make their case albeit wanting to defeat it. To maintain unity.

        Progressives/liberals have absolutely no interest in fairness or debate. They ruthlessly go out to win every time and that’s why they do.

        • I read yesterday at LifeSite that Archbishop Chaput no less, just gave a consoling defense of Jimmy Martin SJ because all the big bad meanies have been ganging up on him.
          It is becoming frighteningly clear that the only ones who have a neuron rolling around between their ears are heretical.
          Then of course you have the “brilliant” Pope Benedict handing over the Church to a bunch of left wing atheists. What did he think was going to happen?

    • Yes, I have an explanation to this very important, timely and pithy question. I did EVERYTHING I could possibly do…short of going to Rome and chaining myself to a pillar in St. Pete’s to prevent Theodore McCarrick from being named Cardinal…to no avail. No response whatsoever to my certified letters with reasons why he shouldn’t be named. The ANSWER is that the screening process for naming bishops and cardinals is controlled by the GAY MAFIA in the Vatican. The Pope is presented a series of options ALL OF WHICH are lefties…or the conservatives are condemned by faint praise. That’s where the problem is, the chokehold.

  2. A couple of questions: UDG #72 states “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution” – would not “in the present Constitution” encompass everything that precedes and proceeds paragraph 72?

    Yes, paragraph 78 removes simony from consideration but it doesn’t remove anything else that could be done contrary to the whole of the Constitution, correct?

    Second question: what do you make of the charge that Pope Benefict XVI’s resignation is invalid?

    • I never read it that way, but I think this has merit.

      I’ve always read it as Steve has presented it, but looking at it again, I see that the passage referred to states “in the present Constitution”.

      This doesn’t appear to limit the reference to nullity to only those condemned actions that precede it.


    • Yes, I also think this was a very weak analysis of the whole picture regarding the Bergoglio’s election, it’s antecedents and aftermath. I would listen to a real canonist like Dr. Alberto Villasana Munguia who has a real case on this matter including overwhelming evidence that irrefutably concludes Bergoglio’s election was null and also, that Bergoglio, along with the cardinal electors, are excommunicated. (like it or not) – People don’t understand this now or it seems they don’t want to but they will later. Our Lord said nothing is hidden that would not be known and someday, this will 🙂

    • Steve, I also would like to know what you make of the second question. There have been some very well researched articles on this, and I think it is the stronger of the two arguments.

      Was his resignation valid, or does his splitting of it into resigning only the “munus” part of the office make it invalid?

      • Benedict said he was resigning “in such a way that the See will be vacant.”

        “The See will be vacant” means “there will be no bishop of Rome.” If there is no bishop of Rome, there is no Pope.

        All theories that Benedict remains on the See are the product of wishful thinking.

        • A theory stands or falls on the evidence to support it, and does not fall on accusations that it is the product of wishful thinking. First you have to read the relevant articles, and Benedict’s many self-contradictory statements, as well as his behavior on the subject.

          I am not competent to judge the statements, but I have read them.

    • The charge that BXVI’s resignation is invalid is wrong, firstly because people get the facts wrong; the people who level this charge never quote Benedict’s final speech at Castel Gandolfo on February 28th, 2013, where he explicitly says “I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o’clock this evening and then no more.” (huff post, copied from AP This clearly demonstrates he understands all the technicalia behind the abdication and that he wasn’t attempting any sort of half-abdication.
      Secondly, even if Benedict has any kooky ideas about the papacy and abdication thereof (and most of that is just people wildly speculating), it STILL wouldn’t be enough to invalidate the actual act of abdication that took place. Fr. Hunwicke has a good series on intention, though it focuses more on the Sacraments (here’s a good place to start but read all his posts on the subject: In other words, Benedict would have to have a level of stupidity border lining complete imbecility in order to have a defectus intentionis in his abdication, but he has clearly demonstrated the bare minimum understanding required to abdicate BY his original declaration of abdication.
      The fact is this: Benedict understood that his abdication could be interpreted to be an abandonment of responsibilities given to him by God and maybe even a terrible sin, so all his speeches and his behavior are simply his attempt to justify his decision. In the end, God will be his judge.

  3. In reality, whatever Canon Law or any other teaching document might say on the matter, the person who is Pope is he who is recognized as such by all the Catholic bishops around the world who are in Communion with him. As there is not one single bishop who contests that Francis is Pope, then he is indeed Pope – like it or lump it.

    Just as the present Code of Canon Law makes it virtually impossible for a reigning Pope to be declared a formal heretic, it is similarly useless for contesting the validity of his election. As the supreme legilsator is the Pope himself, who is judged by nobody on this earth, it is inconceivable that any Pope would rule his own election to be invalid however corrupt his election might have been and however many laws might have been broken.

    Putting hope in the possibility that Francis might be removed forcibly is a waste of time and energy – it ain’t gonna happen. The only solution to this present mess is divine intervention.

    • You are utterly right. The situation is intractable. Unless God intervenes soon we are doomed.
      The late cardinal Achille Lienart archbp of Lille who was a leader in the VATII’s derailing confessed on his deatbed (1973) that he had been a freemason since decades, adding these terrible words:
      “Humanly speaking the Church is LOST”. This was 44 years ago…

      • “Unless God intervenes soon we are doomed.”

        Nope, you can’t say that. We’re being tested. It is the will of The Lord. Obey and pray (for rectification of all this). Yet we need also to remember all the Christians who have survived unspeakable horrors under the boot of Islam. We may very well need to try to live up to their faith.

        As for old Achille Lienart, the key is “humanly speaking”. That’s true. But remember Matthew 19:26, “And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.”

        Also, of course, Jeremiah 32:17, ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,
        And also
        Jeremiah 32:27
        “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Same with Zechariah 8:6. )

        It’s the same idea in Deuteronomy 30:14 “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayst do it” (i.e., keep the Law via the power of the Holy Spirit).

        We need to rely on the Holy Spirit, Who will enable us to both survive endless oppression (which Mideastern Christians have done, and in our own way, Trad Catholics have done, too, and indeed are growing stronger every day) and Who might well answer the prayers of the pious to “fix this mess”.

        Scary stuff, but remember what Rabbi Abraham Heschel said, “God is not nice, God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake.”

        Raghn Corvinus

      • Any links to articles about this?

        re: “Humanly speaking the Church is Lost”

        Of course we know better. We have Our Lord’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail over His Church.

        and St. John Bosco’s dream about the Church seemingly being lost, but saved via devotion to the Holy Eucharist and Our Blessed Mother.

    • “The only solution to this present mess is divine intervention.”

      Hmmm….maybe. And maybe God is testing US to see whether we have the Faith to “Defend the Faith”?

      Remember, God nearly let Abraham sacrifice Isaac. Almost. On the cusp of doing it. Knife raised. He knew what Abraham was made of and He knew Abraham would do it, but The Lord of Hosts asked Abraham to do it anyway. He wanted Abraham to see what Abraham was made of.

      What are we made of? The stark, terrifying story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son is something God wants all of us to know about, because it shows what He may ask of us. (It fits into Christ’s many comments about “You will be mocked and driven from the synagogues” and “take up your Cross and follow Me” sayings. I mean, look at the fates that awaited the Apostles, etc.

      Besides, perhaps more apropos, The Lord has let millions of Christians languish under the heal of Islam for 1400 years. From His perspective, this may be our fate.

      “Fear of the Lord is the root of wisdom”, (Proverbs 9:10, Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7).

      Raghn Corvinus

      • From what I’ve heard from him, it seems he believes there is reason to be doubtful of the election. And I would venture, though I am by no means certain, that he prays for “Francis, our pope” when he offers Mass. If you have further evidence that he believes otherwise I would very much welcome it!

          • such a request would not only be appropriate, but be called for. If you are going to tug on this string, you must keep tugging until you reach the end. Go for it. DO IT. it makes for good press too….

        • True. But, then again, it is not about numbers. It is about the Truth. I am sure the few faithful bishops during the Arian heresy period felt outnumbered as well. In the end, God wins.

  4. If then-Cardinal Bergoglio did not “abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could [have] oblige[d] [him] to give or deny [his] vote to a person or persons” and was thereby excommunicated latae sententiae could he have validly been elected? How can someone who is out of communion with the Church be elected its earthly head?

    Is it known whether then-Cardinal Bergoglio had any dealings with the “Sankt Gallen mafia”?

    • Malignant narcissism:

      Malignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, aggression, and sadism. Often grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.

      ” When the formal correction comes, we had better prepare…..ALL of us…….from laity to parish priest to bishop to cardinal. I suspect Francis will require each cardinal, each bishop to profess loyalty to his papacy. With that, each bishop will require the priest under him to do the same…….EVERY PRIEST, not only diocesan.” My personal thoughts of course. I think our prayers and energies should be in great prayer and preparation.

  5. So far as I know Bergoglio was (still is) a member of the Sankt Galley mafia. Therefore those who trafficked the votes, in my opinion ALL the mafia’s members, are excommunicated ipso facto latae sententiae.
    But my parish priest explained me that even an excommunicated cardinal can be validly elected Pope in a conclave, though I have some difficulties understanding how the Holy Spirit may back an excommunicated man.
    Anyways who cares ? Isn’t a formal heretic excommunicated too?
    Who can lift these excommunications? The Pope himself… The Pope has all the powers including that of excommunicating me if he reads my comment.
    We have no weapons to prevent the Church being destroyed nor to protect ourselves against the destroyers.
    Nice situation…

    • It is also worth mentioning that many saints and Fathers of the Church say that the College of Cardinals cannot elect a known heretic to the papacy. It is well known in Latin America that Bergoglio espoused heretical views both as a priest, bishop, archbishop, and cardinal. What to do? That is the question.

      • What to do: Nothing but praying
        The arguments about the invalidity of Benedict XVI’s resignation or against the validity of Francis’ election having been quickly all exhausted and dismissed, and the fact that only the Pope can judge the Pope even if he is a blatant heretic, then the Church is utterly defenseless.against him and the herds of wolves that surround him.
        When Padre Pio died, we had the last great catholic saint, same sized in holiness and fame as St Bernard of Clairvaux or St Catherine of Sienna, who could have enough influence in the catholic Church to challenge Pope Francis in publicly exposing his heresies with power and assurance.
        I am afraid that the filial correction hopefully followed by a fraternal correction will have as much results as a sword’s strike in the water.

        • Exhausted and dismissed by whom? Not the way I see it. Go to Bishop Gracida’s blog, read the commentary by Mr. Arechiga (including all the footnotes and hyperlinks), and then present a rebuttal to the facts he lays out. Then, I will buy into your position (and Steve’s).

          • Just remember our comment policy: unless your name begins with pope, don’t declare anyone an antipope. Since that is essentially to topic of this article, I’m gonna waive that here. Just a gentle reminder for future discussions not in this thread.

          • Al P, I myself would be prone to dig further in the issues of the non-validity of Benedict’s resignation and Francis’ election, but everywhere I expose the matter because I am not a theologian pundit, I am replied that the case is closed, that Francis is the true Pope. In my opinion, the controversy should be continued mezza voce in the catacombs since the Pope’s excommunicative axe already fell heavily and mercilessly on Pr Galat’s neck for having publicly shared his doubts in his own TV network.
            It was easy to understand why the trad websites began to recommend prudence in the commentaries immediately after..

  6. Well, Steve, at least one retired Catholic bishop in good standing disagrees with you on his blog. That person is Bishop Rene Gracida. Perhaps you should read the article he published on his blog (actually republished) last week. The article’s author is John Arechiga.

  7. You forgot to mention UDG nr. 79:

    “Confirming the prescriptions of my Predecessors, I likewise forbid
    anyone, even if he is a Cardinal, during the Pope’s lifetime and without
    having consulted him, to make plans concerning the election of his
    successor, or to promise votes, or to make decisions in this regard in
    private gatherings.”

    This is exactly what they did at Sankt Gallen: making plans concerning the election of Bergoglio, without having conculted the reigning pope.

    If you then combine nr. 79 with nr. 81:

    “The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact,
    agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige
    them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in
    fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be
    null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby
    impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon
    those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to
    forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of
    views concerning the election.”

    Then, those who were member of the Sankt Gallen Mafia, are automatically excommunicated. If Bergoglio was not part of this Sankt Gallen Mafia, then he would not be excommunicated, and he would be the legimite pope. But dr. Austin Ivereigh said something else in his autobiography of Bergoglio: he was indeed part of this group. So Bergoglio is also excommunicated latae sententiae, and according to Canon Law nr. 1333 §1 and §2 someone who is excommunicated cannot exercise an ecclesiastical office, and cannot be pope. This is my view.

  8. I think JPII knew there were enemies of the Church within who were conspiring to elect their own to the papacy, so he passed UDG. I also think Steve is parcing the text too much to negate the obvious intent of the law.

    • I don’t agree regarding Steve. There aren’t many people who understand how to read legal documents in terms of looking at definitions, scrutinizing words, “going circular”. We are careless with our words anymore but even 20 years ago people preparing these types of documents agonized over single words and phrases. I think Steve’s focus on “precede” is proper.

  9. To Daniel Chamberlain below: Yes. And this is another monkey wrench in the gearbox so to speak. IF his resignation was coerced (thus invalid), the arguments either for or against the validity or invalidity of Bergoglio’s election is a moot point. So, which is it?

    • Coercion by itself would not invalidate his resignation. The only thing that would prove an invalid resignation would be that if at some point before his announcement to resign, Benedict xpressed an intention to split the papacy into an active and a contemplative component. If this were the case it could be argued that his intention was defective.
      I think Ann Barnhardt holds to this view, but it seems to me, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever, to be wishful thinking.

      • “Coercion by itself would not invalidate his resignation.” I am pretty sure that is incorrect. The question still needs answered. Unfortunately, unless it is on his deathbed, Benedict will not say anything- if ever. However, dividing the papacy into two distinct Petrine ministiries cries out for an answer. Past Church Councils have already made definitive teaching on this question. It is a novelty invented by Benedict. The question is: Why?

      • Ann Barnhardt’s theory is definitely disproven by Benedict’s last address as pope at Castel Gandolfo the evening of Feb 28th 2013: “I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o’clock this evening and then no more.”

      • I think the fallback to an invalid abdication is an effeminate attempt to reconcile truly difficult realities.

        I know that adjective seems out of place when associated with anything Ann Barnhardt {bless her heart} does except for her occasional sporting of a pencil skirt and pumps.

  10. But Benedict said beforehand that he intended to resign “in such a way that the See will be vacant” (as per Arthur McGowan’s post below), indicating that the resignation is complete.

    What he might have said after the fact is of little relevance. Indeed he could come out today and declare he is still the pope and never intended to reign and it would not change the reality that he is no longer Pope.

    • If a pope intends to resign, but the munus of the office is not SPECIFICALLY resigned I believe according to canon law he remains pope whether he knows it or not and whether he likes it or not… Let us remember also that Ratzinger is extremely intelligent and is one of the only people still living in the world today who read the full original text of the third secret of Fatima…maybe he knows something nobody else does… or maybe he just really likes the color white and his Fisherman’s ring and that’s why he keeps wearing them.

  11. Steve, there’s another argument that I think is missing in this article not related to the Simony perpetrated by the “St. Gallen Mafia” group, but related to the Conclave itself… according to Elisabetta’s Pique (Bergoglio’s authorized biographer) book “Francisco, Vida y Revolución” (Francis, Life and Revolution – the conclave that elected Francis had two irregularities which are forseen in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis that you mention in this article but in numbers 69 and 63.

    It is important to mention that according to Il Osservatore Romano, this book from Pique was recounted first hand by Jose Mario Bergolgio itself ( and approved by him.

    The irregularities that are narrated in this book are the following:

    1. In the 4th ballot of the day (March 13th, 2013) there were counted 116 votes while there were only 115 Cardinals in the conclave (One cardinal placed two ballot papers). In this ballot Angelo Scola was elected Pope, even the episcopal conference sent an e-mail congratulating Angelo Scola as the new Roman Pontiff to the Vatican periodists, but this election was (incorrectly) nullified violating UDG since it states in number 69:

    “69. The Scrutineers sit at a table placed in front of the altar. The first of them takes a ballot, unfolds it, notes the name of the person chosen and passes the ballot to the second Scrutineer, who in his turn notes the name of the person chosen and passes the ballot to the third, who reads it out in a loud and clear voice, so that all the electors present can record the vote on a sheet of paper prepared for that purpose. He himself writes down the name read from the ballot. If during the opening of the ballots the Scrutineers should discover two ballots folded in such a way that they appear to have been completed by one elector, if these ballots bear the same name they are counted as one vote; if however they bear two different names, neither vote will be valid; however, in neither of the two cases is the voting session annulled.”

    2. Given that the 4th ballot was (incorrectly) nullified, there was a 5TH ballot on that same day (March 13th, 2013) in which Francis was elected Pope… but having a 5th ballot on one single day violates what UDG says in number 63 (Only 4 ballots per day, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon):

    63. The election is to begin immediately after the provisions of No. 54 of the present Constitution have been duly carried out.

    Should the election begin on the afternoon of the first day, only one ballot is to be held; then, on the following days, if no one was elected on the first ballot, two ballots shall be held in the morning and two in the afternoon. The voting is to begin at a time which shall have been determined earlier, either in the preparatory Congregations or during the election period, but in accordance with the procedures laid down in Nos. 64ff of the present Constitution.

    I think this argument has never been addressed at least here in OnePeterFive… not sure if it’s worthy or not to look more deep into this… but I’ll leave this here and leave it up to you…

    • If that’s true, and we don’t have any way of knowing for sure (whatever happens in the Conclave is supposed to be kept in strictest secrecy,) but if it is then, how I read UDG is that the election actually would be invalid since it was the balloting procedure where the error was committed. However, even if his election is invalid we have no way to know for sure and none of us have the competence to declare it as such. As I’ve long held, as well as the stance of 1P5, we have to act as if Francis is the legitimate pope. It is safest for our souls (It is necessary for the salvation of every man that he be subjec to the Roman Pontiff,) and since the entire world sees him as such, yelling “nuh-uh!” won’t do any good. What you say does raise a level of doubt that will need to be investigate by a future pontiff.

      • I agree, until otherwise proven Francis is our Pope and we should pray for him, but given that this topic was being addressed in this article I thought this would be an interesting argument to look at… if this should be removed that’s totally fine (I don’t want my comment to be cause of scandal) just wanted to let you know in One Peter Five this other thesis that is being managed…

        • Yes, we should love our Pope Francis like a catholic should love the sinner while hating the sin, even if the Pope behaves as if he wanted to destroy our Faith, our Church and possibly even our souls.
          But don’t require me to call him “Holy Father”, that’s far beyond my strength.
          My father who was a sinner like me and certainly not a saint never acted like him.

      • Jafin, for once I completely agree with you! It is crystal clear that no matter what happens with the Dubia, or Francis, or Cardinal Burke, a future Council will have to determine the validity of Francis’ election- not to mention what eventually happens with AL. More than likely, it will not happen until we all pass through this life. So, perhaps the real question is why even discuss or argue about any of this in the first place as all of us are just members of the laity? The only reason any of us (outside of the proper ecclesiastical authorities) talk or write about it is because we have a hierarchy who will not do their ordained job. And that is the truth.

      • Possibly I am mistaken, but I could remember that all what has happened throughout a conclave should be mandatorily kept secret. Those who disclose its progress, either cardinals or journalists are incurring an excommunication ipso facto latae sententiae.

  12. Hi Mr. Skojec. I agree with your conclusion, the election of Cdl. Bergolio was valid. You corrected, tho, an error that was not wrong when you said “Since UDG is not a matter of canon law…” Sure it is. Not all “canon law” is found in the Code. UDG is ‘special law’, sure, but it is still part of “canon law”, and therefore, is to be interpreted in accord with canon law, which is mostly, but not completely, codified these days. Remembering that UDG is part of canon law, in turn, lets you and others, like me, who defend the validity of election (however much evidence there is that some crimes were committed during that conclave) by noting Canon 10, which sets a very high bar to finding acts INvalid. I do not think that bar was surmounted in this case. Best, edp.

    • You are a canon lawyer. Please reconcile your comments with 1917 CIC 160 and with post Second Vatican Council 1983 CIC 349.

      1917 CIC 160 states: “The election of the Roman Pontiff is guided SOLELY (emphasis supplied) by the constitution of [Pope] Pius X Vacante Sede Apostolica of December 1904; in other ecclesiastical elections, the prescriptions of the canons that follow are to be observed [as well as] those special ones, if there are any,that are established for individual offices.”

      Post Second Vatican Council 1983 CIC 349 states in In pertinent part: “The cardinals of the Holy Roman Church constitute a special college which provides for the election of the Roman Pontiff according to the norm of special [not canonical] law [Apostolic constitution].”

        • Mea culpa. There is much to be said about the value of a good vocabulary. Apparently you misunderstood my request. I was not asking you to reconcile 1917 CIC 160 with post Second Vatican Council 1983 CIC 349. I was asking you to reconcile the cited canon law with your posted comment.

          Your reply reminds me of the time I called an old lawyer friend and asked what he was doing. He replied that he was working on “Aqua-thermal treatment of ceramics, aluminum and steel under a constrained environment.” I was impressed. However, upon further inquiry, I learned that he was washing dishes with hot water – under his wife’s supervision.

    • Dr Peters:

      Thanks for entering into this.

      I read UDG as Steve does, but the argument put forth here seemed to merit a bit more discussion, or rather, might in the future if the issue was ever taken up by the Church. It seems to me if pushed, there might be two interpretations as there are sometimes in law; that is, 2 judges can read the law in two different and opposing ways while still maintaining integrity in their decisions.

      Today the Judge is Francis. It is obvious what his reading of the law is.

      But tomorrow, the Judge may be Pope Pius XIV.

      My question for you is simple:

      Is it possible there could be other interpretations here or are you very certain “there are no other interpretations” {pardon the pun…}.

      I’m wondering if I detect a smidgen of hedging when you say “I do not think that bar was surmounted in this case.”

      If I’ve read you enough in the past to know, you usually do not say “I do not think”.

      Again, thank you for posting.

      • Hi. To the degree these are FACT questions, people can differ on their reading (somewhat). But to the degree they are LAW questions, the wiggle room gets much smaller, much more quickly. Okay for now? I might treat some of these in a blog. Best, edp.

  13. It occurs to me that the men who conspired to have Bergoglio elected pope believe in consequentialism.. in accordance with their belief in consequentialism they don’t care about honor, including clauses or provisions added to a governing document which have essentially no bite or at least will not be enforced as long as their ends are met (e.g. once Bergoglio was elected they had nothing to fear as he certainly wasn’t going to excommunicate them).

    My prayers are that the next generation of cardinals aren’t Alinskyites.

  14. “I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 o’clock this evening and then no more.” -Benedict XVI, final address to the faithful at Castel Gandolfo, Feburary 28th, 2013

  15. Steve — cut to the chase. Your readers deserve more than just snippets. Let your readers decide which of us is correct. Post my entire commentary on the Election of Pope Francis Pursuant to Universi Dominici Gregis. I may not have a degree in theology – but I am a well-read traditional Catholic and a professional skeptic. My professional career spanned over 30 years of federal service as both an auditor and criminal investigator. I was a Certified Fraud Examiner. Frivolous arguments and litigation are not my cup of tea. Check your email for a copy of my previously published commetary.

    • I’m not posting a document of that length in full. If you have it online somewhere and you want to put a link to it in the comments here, feel free. I have no problem with you making the argument. But I am under no obligation to promote it, either.

      • Is this the best you can come back with? Really?? I am sure that Mr. Arechiga appreciates the insult. Your remark is certainly not charitable.

        • No, I’m being serious- That is a really cool resume. Nevertheless, that does not in and of itself make his claims more right or even more likely to be right.
          I am not familiar with Mr. Arechiga’s work, though, and I would be willing to check it out if he posted the link.

          • Thank you for the link, and it all seems readable to me, though the good bishop’s blog is notorious for technical issues.
            So it turns out I have read this work before, and scanning it again, it seems Steve’s point in this article still stands- it appears you are stretching paragraph 76 and 77 of UDG to cover things it does not cover. Reading through UDG on the Holy See’s website, it appears paragraph 76 and 77 only refer to part II chapter 5, that is, paragraphs 62-77, describing the minute details of how to conduct the election, and perhaps part II chapter 3 as well, paragraphs 49-54 describing the rituals at the beginning of the election.
            I understand you address this objection and claim Chapter 5 is also Chapter 6 (that is, chapter 5 is also matters to be observed or avoided in the election of the Roman Pontiff) but this is manifestly false- Chapter 5 is the election procedure, and that election procedure can be completely and legitimately carried out even if, God forbid, all the principles of chapter 6 are violated.
            In other words, your claim “there would be no need for paragraphs 78-86 if it were not for paragraphs 76-77 – and vice versa.” is not true. 76-77 refer to the validity of the papal election according to the procedures described in the previous paragraphs of that chapter. Paragraphs 78-86 deal with how to elect a good, holy man and not a wicked, corrupt crook.

          • You cannot limit interpretation of paragraph 76 to Chapter 5. You have to interpret paragraph 76 in the full context of UDG.

          • Yes, and in context of the whole document paragraph 76 still does not say what you think it says. There is a reason the ‘matters to be observed and avoided’ are in a different chapter than the one outlining the election procedures.

  16. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition.

    Then, I think the question must be: Can a latae sententiae excommunicated Cardinal elector be elected?

    • Hi there,
      I believe you are misreading this paragraph- the excommunication refers to someone who attempts to enforce the listed commitments to vote, not necessarily the cardinals who enter into it, especially if it’s something informal like an agreement.
      That is, to illustrate an example, it would be wrong for Cardinals Daneels and Kasper to agree to vote for a particular Cardinal, but Cardinal Daneels would only be excommunicated at the conclave if he walked up to Kasper and gave him a nudge and a wink. It would be enforced by the other cardinals, locked in the same room and able to see any shady business going on.

  17. Although this entire discusstion may be interesting, it is actually beside the point. Regardless of whether or not Francis is a valid pope, he is the one who holds the reins of power, legit or not. Even if he IS a valid pope, he — with his chronies — is a destructive one under the influence of Satan. Thus, the real questions are: 1) How do we get rid of him and his entourage? 2) If we can’t get rid of him, what do we do (in addition to prayer and trusting in God) to save the Church?

    • Perhaps the real questions are 1) Is it really our job to ‘get rid of him and his entourage’? and 2) How do we grow in holiness?
      Have you prayed Sext and None today? You might want to check those psalms out…

      • Your second question, obviously, is of utmost importance. As for the first, my personal answer is, yes. Not just us but every faithful Catholic, regardless of rank. We all, as part of our Confirmation, have a duty to uphold, defend and protect the faith, even with our lives, and that includes ridding the faith of all sources and contributors to its corruption and destruction. That being said, I don’t know how we, not being part of the “ruling body” can aid in such an effort if that were to become necessary.

    • Agree. What can we do in addition to prayer and trusting in God? Put all the options on the table and hopefully the traditional heirarchy will be able to sort it out.

  18. any lawyer worth his salt can manage to apply the same punishment to the same crime…what I am trying to say is that it doesn’t matter which came before which…if BOTH carry the same excommunication…then the offenses are equivalent, i.e. the election is not valid….This article was too edited, too abbreviated for such an important subject….DON’T TRIVIALIZE IT ! Remember the Catholic Faith resides in the People, as well as the Pope. The Romans refused to enter the church where a Pope was going to say mass…and he was eventually deposed. Popes have been deposed…and you need some scholarship to show us how it was done.

  19. Pope Francis was not validly elected because Benedictus XVI has not resigned on 28 february 2013 and therefore the conclave of march 2013 was invalid!
    Moreover, we must say that Benedictus XVI is still the true Pope of the Catholic Church, because he, on 11 february 2013, has only announced his resignation for the 28th of february 2013, but then he has not resigned on 28 february 2013 (for which he is still the true Pope). This is described very well in this italian book: Pace C. M., Il vero Papa è ancora Benedetto XVI, Youcanprint 2017 ( )

  20. Pope Francis was not validly elected, because Benedictus XVI has not resigned on 28 february 2013 and therefore the conclave of March 2013 was invalid!
    Hence, Benedictus XVI is still the true Pope of the Catholic Church {because he, on 11 february 2013, has only announced his resignation for the 28th of february 2013, but then he has not resigned on 28 february 2013 (for which he is still the true Pope). This is described very well in this italian book: Pace C. M., Il vero Papa è ancora Benedetto XVI, Youcanprint 2017 ( )}

  21. Because this comes up on a fairly regular basis, . . .

    Hmm, I must say I’m truly shocked! On this blog? That people would even surmise that the revered Pope Francis were not a “true” Pope? No, I can’t believe it.

    • I held pretty strongly to Steve’s view but some recent statements have had me wondering. Thus I was waiting for this piece, but now that I’ve read it, I am unpersuaded by Dr Peters’ argument.

      This is not his best effort, that’s for sure.

      Mmm…. Methinks this could be taken up by competent authorities in the future.

      • “but now that I’ve read it, I am unpersuaded by Dr Peters’ argument.”

        What specifically do you disagree with his arguments?

        He was addressing several different assertions… which one(s?) do you think is true, and how and why does Dr. Peter’s evaluation of the assertion fall short?

  22. All good except. Your observations pertain to the election of Bergoglio. My point is that the cardinals involved colluded by their own admission, unsuccessfully, at the election of Benedict. Meaning they were already excommunicated when they came to vote at the Bergoglio conclave, and by inference, their votes would be null.
    Having said that, “Catholics” have stopped listening to him anyhow. They are waiting for a Catholic Pope.


    Well look at what we have here…Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida has published a personal commentary regarding the validity of the papal conclave of 2013. This merits reading and serious consideration as it comes from a Successor of the Apostles.

  24. Thank you to all at 1Peter5 and especially to you, Steve Skojec. It seems to me to be a simple case. 81. “The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact,
    agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige
    them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. …. and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition.” Accordingly it seems clear that Cardinal Bergolio was excommunicated. As such he could not have been legitimately elected. Also the other cardinals of the “Sankt Gallen Mafia” were likewise excommunicated and therefor not eligible to vote. . Am I missing something?

    • latae sententia: a sentence already passed. Ipso Facto. Automatic, by force of law.

      I agree with you, and Bishop Emeritus Gracida of Corpus Christi Dioscese.

      Call me unpersuaded by Ed Peters and 1P5.


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