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(LifeSiteNews) — The Francis papacy has been swirling out of control for more than a decade, and the advice from conservative prelates to attempt to keep your head down and look the other way has backfired with a vengeance, as once-faithful Catholics have turned to Greek Orthodoxy, Old Catholic and other sects. Confusion in the Church is rampant, with the vast majority of Catholics believing the impossible – that the Church has altered its teaching on homosexuality, on contraception, divorce and remarriage, gender, the death penalty, and pagan idol worship.

The possibility of questioning the legitimacy of the papacy of Pope Francis has been fought by nearly all conservative prelates in the Church, except for a few who have publicly stated that Francis has abandoned the papacy by his heresies. Those prelates, two retired and one in hiding, include Kazakhstan Archbishop Jan Paweł Lenga, Texas Bishop René Henry Gracida, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Other theories suggest that Francis is not, and never has been, pope, because of a faulty election due to the machinations of the St. Gallen Mafia, which would result in a voided election according to the constitution on the election of popes penned by Pope St. John Paul II. And finally there is the theory that Benedict’s resignation was invalid, thus remaining the reigning pontiff, and Francis’ election was void, and that there should have been a papal election following the death of Benedict XVI.

That third theory has a different subtheory, one of which made for a best-selling book in Italy which posits the controversial thesis that Pope Benedict XVI did not actually resign the papacy, but tricked his powerful opponents in the Vatican to reveal themselves with a fake resignation.

Andrea Cionci, a native Roman Italian, art historian, journalist, and war correspondent is a regular contributor to several national newspapers and author of 2023 book The Ratzinger Code, which has sold more than 20,000 copies and translated into five languages.

I must say that I myself was not convinced by the full argument, especially since I watched as Pope Benedict lauded Pope Francis. But nonetheless, there are many serious and faithful Catholics, dozens of professors in fact, who do think the theory is credible. I spoke with one of those professors today – Prof. Erik Thaddeus Walters, Dr. phil., a philologist, theologian, and professor of history, Latin, and religious studies from John Cabot University in Rome, who has lived, studied, and worked in Rome for almost 30 years.

Dr. Walters unpacks Cionci’s thesis for us on the show today. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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John-Henry is the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization. He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.