Flashback: Canon Law Expert Br. Bugnolo responding to Fr. Belland agreeds that Pope Benedict's Resignation was Invalid
Latin language expert Br. Alexis Bugnolo and Fr. D. Belland had an
informative exchange on the From Rome website comment section in which
Br. Bugnolo responding to Fr. Belland apparently agreeds that Pope
Benedict XVI's resignation was invalid:
Who will do the sorting and by what means are the Bishops in union with Rome going to be determined under your proposal?
Two items must be addressed: first is that while you seemed to
agree with the application of Virtue of Equity in my essay just sent
you, saying you didn’t initially understand how it fit into the
picture, which Equity is a means of correcting a law or laws (which
would do harm regarding a situation unforeseen by the Law Giver). In
this case those Laws demanding a resignation from the MUNUS, which as
they stood, if observed would prevent the Pontiff, operating under the
most difficult circumstances–diabolical, from maintaining the Papacy
from the enemies of the Church; furthermore, if he had been murdered or
actually resigned it would have been a success for Satan, who had
infiltrated the Church–there was probably no third choice without
Equity other than full resignation or being murdered.
Secondly, if Fr. Belland is able to read correctly what Benedict
said in his Renunciation Declaration (and I ask any capable Latinist to
show where the explanation of my translation is wrong)–that document
being one brilliant piece of Latin for the good of the Church, but the
Cardinals, for whatever reason, did not understand what he did, the
onus falls on them–not on Benedict. But Benedict knew what he was
doing; he even stated publicly that his resignation was in fact VALID
(*”There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my
renunciation of the Petrine ministry,*” the retired pope wrote in a
letter to Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican correspondent for the newspaper
La Stampa and the website Vatican Insider.). Benedict is implicitely
being called a liar when his words are interpreted to mean something
other than what he says, i.e., telling him he’s wrong. The onus,
Brother, is on you to prove that Benedict was lying or to ask him how
his renunciation was valid instead of lecturing to him about his
The correct forensic principle, which a canonist SHOULD know, is
that what some/one/says is prima facie what he means, and he who claims
that the intention was such as to make it other than prima facie IS
REQUIRED TO PROVE HIS INTERPRETATION by a first hand DENIAL of the
prima facie. (From your own blog, Brother: Benedict said in every way
that He did not resign! — An Examination of His Testimonies).
I ask you, Brother, to address precisely HOW Equity cannot be used
in Benedict’s case; certainly no Law Maker, in his right mind, is going
to issue a law which forbids the use of Equity, truly an institution
in Canon Law from the beginning. Please show me where Amleto Giovanni
Cicognani is wrong in his text book: /Canon Law–/I believe I sent you a
copy of the whole section on Equity from his book/, /and also where
St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa is wrong about the Virtue of Equity.
Dear Father, the problem you address is one of semantics. Because if
one looks at Non Solum Propter as a Papal resignation, then one says
that as such it is invalid per canon 188 on account of lacking the
proper object of the act. However, as I said in my disputed question’s Respondeo, IF one says that it is a renunciation of ministerium,
to prepare for a retirement while retaining the office, then it is not
invalid, but valid. Nevertheless, it does not have the effect of the
loss of office. — As much as I understand the concept of equity, the
Pope, since he can validly renounce the papal office, can thus validly
renounce any part of the papal prerogatives and keep the rest WHEN there
is grave cause and a circumstance not foreseen by the law. In this
case, as I explained in my article, How Benedict has defeated “Francis”,
a few days ago, the threat to assassinate him if he did not resign and
his realization of how evil his enemies were, put him in seemingly a
situation from which he could not escape: die and let them take the
office, or live and renounce the office and let them take the office.
Acting, as I believe, for the good of the Church and to PROTECT the
papal office, and KNOWING from his doctors or perhaps by special
revelation, that he would outlive Bergoglio, he posited an act of
retirement but packaged it with the box and ribbons of a resignation of
office, so as to deceive the St Gallen Mafia. I previously considered
this possibility but discounted it as gravely immoral, even until
recently. It was not until I read the article about Benedict offering
the Secretary of State to Bergoglio in 2005 that I began to unravel the
politics behind the decade old struggle of Church and AntiChurch of
which Pope John Paul II spoke.
However, you are correct in saying that it is not an act of
resignation, and that therefore, speaking in the proper sense, it is a
valid act of renunciation of ministry, which does not effect the loss of
office. I have habitually called it an act of resignation which is
invalid, in an improper sense, because I was responding to the Big Lie which has gripped the Church, more principally, than examining the act per se. [https://fromrome.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/how-to-remove-bergoglio/ ]
Br. Bugnolo says the only correct way to approach the validity or
invalidity of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation of the papacy is an
objective reading of what the two words ministerium and munus mean by
means of using canon 17's criteria and not a subjective reading of what
the two words may possibly have meant in the mind of Benedict:
"Canon 17 requires that Canon 332 S2 be read in accord with the meaning
of canon 145 S1 and canon 41... requires that ministerium and munus be
understood as referring to two different things."
(From Rome, "Ganswein, Brandmuller & Burke: Please read Canon 17, February 14, 2019)
He has explained in overwhelming detail in the following treatise using
canon law why canonists are wrong in saying ministerium and munus are
synonyms that mean the exact same thing or nearly the exact same thing:
Munus and Ministerium: A Textual Study of their Usage in the Code of Canon Law of 1983
by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
The study of Canon Law is a recondite field for nearly everyone in the
Church except Canon Lawyers. And even for Canon Lawyers, most of whom
are prepared to work in the Marriage Tribunals of the Church, most of
the Code of Canon Law is not frequently referred to.
However, when it comes to the problems of determining the validity of a
canonical act, the expertise among Canon Lawyers becomes even more
difficult to find, since the circumstances and problems in a single
canonical act touch upon a great number of Canons of the Code of Canon
Law, and thus require the profound knowledge and experience of years of
problem solving to be readily recognized.
For this reason, though popularly many Catholics are amazed that after 6
years there can still be questions and doubts about the validity of the
Act of Renunciation declared by Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013,
it actually is not so surprising when one knows just a little about the
complexity of the problems presented by the document which contains
First of all, the Latin of the Act, which is the only official and
canonical text, is rife with errors of Latin Grammar. All the
translations of the Act which have ever been done, save for a few, cover
those errors with a good deal of indulgence, because it is clear that
whoever wrote the Latin was not so fluent in writing Latin as they
thought, a thing only the experts at such an art can detect.
Even myself, who have translated thousands of pages of Latin into
English, and whose expertise is more in making Latin intelligible as
read, than in writing intelligible Latin according to the rules of Latin
grammar can see this. However, we are not talking about literary
indulgences when we speak of the canonical value or signification of a
For centuries it was a constant principle of interpretation, that if a
canonical act in Latin contained errors it was not to be construed as
valid, but had to be redone. Unfortunately for the Church, Cardinal
Sodano and whatever Cardinals or Canonists examined the text of the Act
prior to the public announcement of its signification utterly failed on
this point, as will be seen during this conference.
This is because if there are multiple errors or any error, the Cardinal
was allowed and even obliged under canons 40 and 41 to ask that the text
This evening, however, we are not going to talk about the lack of good
Latinity in the text of the Act nor of the other errors which make the
text unintelligible to fluent Latinists who think like the Romans of
Cicero’s day when they see Latin written, but rather, of the
signification of Canon 332 §2, in its fundamental clause of condition,
where it says in the Latin, Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, which in good English is, If it happen that the Roman Pontiff renounce his munus….
The entire condition for a Papal Renunciation of Office in the Code of
Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II is founded on this first
clause of Canon 332 §2. It behooves us, therefore, when any say that
the Renunciation was valid or invalid, to first read this Canon and
understand when a renunciation takes place and when it does not take
For this purpose, in this first intervention at this Conference, I will
speak about the meaning of the two words, Munus and Ministerium, in the
Code of Canon Law. I will speak of both, because, in Canon 332 §2 Pope
John Paul II wrote munus and in the Act of Renunciation, Pope Benedict XVI renounced ministerium.
This study is not an idle one, or even only of academic interest. It is
required by Canon Law, because in Canon 17, it says, that when there
arises a doubt about the signification of a canon, one is to have
recourse to the Code of Canon Law, the sources of canonical tradition
and the Mind of the Legislator (Pope John Paul II) in determining the
According to Canon 17 the words of Canoon 332 §2, therefore, are to be
understood properly. Therefore, let us examine the Code to see what is
the proper meaning of the words munus and ministerium.
Ministerium in the Code of Canon Law
This study is something everyone with the Internet can do. Because there
exists an indexed copy of the Latin text of the Code on line at Intratext.com. In the Alphabetic index of which one can find hyperlinked, all the words found in the Code, in their different Latin forms.
For the word Ministerium, there are 6 forms
found: Ministeria, Ministerii, Ministeriis, Ministerio, Ministeriorum,
Ministerium. Respectively they occur 7, 13, 3, 17, 3, 25 times each in
Let us take a look at each, briefly.
The Nominative and Accusative Plural: Occurs 7 times.
In canons 230, 232, 233, 237, 385, 611 and 1035. Each of these refer
to one or more of the sacred ministries or services exercised during the
Divine Liturgy, whether by priests, lectors, acolytes etc..
The Genitive. Occurs 13 times. In canons 233 twice,
276, 278, 519, 551, 756, 759, 1370, 1373, 1375 1389, 1548. These refer
to the sacred service (canons 233, in canon 271 §2, 1, to the duties of
the pastoral ministry (ministerii pastoralis officia as in canon 276,
278 or 551) which sanctify the priest, and specifically in relation to
munus in several canons:
In Canon 519, where it says of the duties of the Pastor of a Parish:
Can. 519 – Parochus est pastor proprius paroeciae sibi commissae, cura
pastorali communitatis sibi concreditae fungens sub auctoritate Episcopi
dioecesani, cuius in partem ministerii Christi vocatus est, ut pro
eadem communitate munera exsequatur docendi, sanctificandi et regendi,
cooperantibus etiam aliis presbyteris vel diaconis atque operam
conferentibus christifidelibus laicis, ad normam iuris.
Which in English is:
Canon 519: The parish priest is the pastor of the parish
assigned to him, exercising (fungens) the pastoral care of the community
entrusted to him under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop, in a
portion of whose ministry in Christ (in partem ministerii Chirsti) he
has been called, so that he might execute (exsequatur) the munera
of teaching, sanctifying and ruling for the same community, with the
cooperation also of the other priests and/or deacons and faithful laity
assisting in the work, according to the norm of law.
Let us note, first of all, that here the Code distinguishes between the
munera of teaching, santifying and ruling from the entire ministry of
Christ a part of which is shared by the Bishop.
And again in Canon 756, when it speaks of the munus of
announcing the Gospel, it says, after speaking of the duty of the Roman
Pontiff in this regard in conjunction with the College of Bishops:
756 § 2. Quoad Ecclesiam particularem sibi concreditam illud munus
exercent singuli Episcopi, qui quidem totius ministerii verbi in eadem
sunt moderatores; quandoque vero aliqui Episcopi coniunctim illud
explent quoad diversas simul Ecclesias, ad normam iuris.
Which in English is:
756 §2In regard to the particular Church entrusted to
him, every Bishop, who is indeed the moderater of the whole ministry of
the word to it, exercises (exercent) this munus; but also when any
Bishop fulfills that conjointly in regard to the diverse Churches,
according to the norm of law.
Let us note here simply that the Code distinguishes between the exercise of a munus and the ministerium of preaching the word.
Again in canon 759, ministerii is used regarding the preaching of the
word. In Canon 1370 it is used in reference to the contempt of
ecclesiastical power or ministry. In canon 1373, it is spoken of in
regard the an act of ecclesiastical power or ministry. In canon 1548 in
regard to the exercise of the sacred ministry of the clergy.
In canon 1389, it is spoken of in the context of power, munus and ministry. Let us take a closer look:
Can. 1389 – § 1. Ecclesiastica potestate vel munere abutens pro actus
vel omissionis gravitate puniatur, non exclusa officii privatione, nisi
in eum abusum iam poena sit lege vel praecepto constituta.
2. Qui vero, ex culpabili neglegentia, ecclesiasticae potestatis vel
ministerii vel muneris actum illegitime cum damno alieno ponit vel
omittit, iusta poena puniatur.
Which in English is:
Canon 1389 §1 Let the one abusing Ecclesiastical power and/or
munus be punished in proportion to the gravity of the act and/or
omission, not excluding privation of office, unless for that abuse there
has already been established a punishment by law and/or precept. 2. However, Let him who, out of culpable negligence,
illegitimately posits and/or omits an act of ecclesiastical power and/or
ministry and/or of munus, with damage to another, be punished with a
Let us note here that the Code in a penal precept distinguishes between:
potestas, ministerium and munus. This implies that in at least one
proper sense of each of these terms, they can be understood to signify
something different or distinct from the other.
This finishes the study of the occurences of ministerii.
The ablative and dative plural form. Occurs 3 times.
In canons 274 and 674, where it refers to the sacred ministry of the
priesthood and to the ministries exercised in parish life, respectively.
And in Canon 1331 §1, 3, where the one excommunicated is forbidden to
exercise all ecclesiastical duties (officiis) and/or ministries and/or
munera (muneribus) The Latin is:
Can. 1331 – § 1. Excommunicatus vetatur:
1 ullam habere participationem ministerialem in celebrandis Eucharistiae Sacrificio vel quibuslibet aliis cultus caerimoniis;
2 sacramenta vel sacramentalia celebrare et sacramenta recipere;
3 ecclesiasticis officiis vel ministeriis vel muneribus quibuslibet fungi vel actus regiminis ponere.
The English is:
Canon 1331 §1. An excommunicate is forbidden:
from having any ministerial participation in the
celebrating of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and/or in any other
ceremonies of worship
from celebrating the Sacraments and/or sacramentals and from receiving the Sacraments;
from exercising (fungi) ecclesiastical officia and/or ministeria and/or munera and/or from positing acts of governance.
Let us note again, that the Code distinguishes in this negative precept
the terms Officia, Ministeria and Munera. This means, very
significantly, that in the Mind of the Legislator, there is a proper
sense in which these terms can each be understood as excluding the
other. All three are named to make the signification of the negative
precept comprehensive of all possible significations.
The Ablative and Dative singular form. Occurs 17 times.
Canons 252, 271, 281, 386 refer to the ministries exercised in the
liturgy or apostolate. Canon 545 uses ministerio in reference to the
pastoral ministry being proffered, 548 likewise in reference to the
pastor of a parish, 559 likewise. Canon 713 refers to the priestly
ministry, canons 757, 760 and 836 to the ministry of the word. Canon 899
to the priestly ministry of Christ. Canon 1036 speaks of the need a
Bishop has to have knowledge that a candidate for ordination has a
willingness to dedicate himself to the life long service which is the
duty of orders.
Canon 1722, which has to deal with canonical trials, speaks again of the
sacred ministerium, officium and munus exercised (arcere) of the one
accused. Distinguishing all three terms to make a comprehensive
statement of what can be interdicted by a penalty.
This far for the 17 instances of ministerio.
The genitive plural form. Occurs 3 times. In canon 230
in regard to the conferral of ministries of acolyte and lector upon
laymen. In canon 499 in regard to having members of the Presbyteral
Council of the Diocese include priests with a variety of ministries
exercised all over the diocese. And in canon 1050, in regard to those to
be ordained, that they have a document showing they have willingly
accepted a live long ministry in sacred service.
And finally the Nominative Singular form.
Of which there are 25 occurrences in the Code.
First and most significantly in Canon 41, the very canon that
Cardinal Sodano had to act upon when examining the Act of Renunciation
by Pope Benedict.
The Latin reads:
Can. 41 — Exsecutor actus administrativi cui committitur merum exsecutionis ministerium, exsecutionem huius actus denegare non potest, nisi manifesto appareat eundem actum esse nullum
aut alia ex gravi causa sustineri non posse aut condiciones in ipso
actu administrativo appositas non esse adimpletas; si tamen actus
administrativi exsecutio adiunctorum personae aut loci ratione videatur
inopportuna, exsecutor exsecutionem intermittat; quibus in casibus
statim certiorem faciat auctoritatem quae actum edidit.
The English reads:
Canon 41: The executor of an administrative act to whom there has been committed the mere ministry (ministerium) of execution, cannot refuse execution of the act, unless the same act appears to be null from (something) manifest [manifesto]
or cannot be sustained for any grave cause or the conditions in the
administrative act itself do not seem to be able to have been fulfilled:
however, if the execution of the administrative act seems inopportune
by reason of place or adjoined persons, let the executor omit the
execution; in which cases let him immediately bring the matter to the
attention of (certiorem faciat) the authority which published the act.
Then, ministerium occurs again in canon 230, in reference to the
ministry of the word, where officia is used in the sense of duties. In
canon 245, in regard to the pastoral ministry and teaching missionaries
the ministry. In Canon 249 again in regard to the pastoral ministry, in
255 in regard to the ministry of teaching, sanctifying etc.., in 256,
257, 271, 324 in regard to the sacred ministry of priests, in Canon 392
in regard to the ministries of the word. In Canon 509 in regard to the
ministry exercised by the Canons of the Cathedral Chapter. In Canon 545
in regard to the parish ministry, in canon 533 in regard to the ministry
exercised by a Vicar. In canons 618 and 654 in regard to the power
received by religious superiors through the ministry of the Church. In
Canon 1025, 1041, and 1051 to the usefulness of a candidate for orders
for service (ministerium) to the Church. In Canon 1375 to those who
exercise power and/or ecclesiastical ministry.
Ministerium occurs significantly in canon 1384, regard to the penalites a priest can incurr.
Can. 1384 – Qui, praeter casus, de quibus in cann. 1378-1383,
sacerdotale munus vel aliud sacrum ministerium illegitime exsequitur,
iusta poena puniri potest.
Which in English is:
Canon 1384 Who, besides the cases, concerning which in canons
1378 to 1383 the priestly munus and/or any other sacred ministerium is
illegitimately executed, can be punished with a just punishment.
The Code explicitly distinguishes between munus and ministerium as
entirely different and or distinct aspects of priestly being and action.
To finish off, the Code mentions Ministerium, again in Canon 1481 in
regard to the ministry of lawyers, 1502 and 1634 to the ministry of
judges, and in 1740 to ministry of the pastor of a parish.
This completes the entire citation of the Code on the word Ministry in all its Latin Forms, singular and plural.
In summation, we can see already that the Code distinguishes between
proper senses of ministerium and munus, habitually throughout its canons
and uses ministerium always for a service to be rendered by a layman,
priest, Bishop, lawyer, judge or to or by the Church Herself. It never
uses ministerium as an office or title or dignity or charge.
Munus in the Code of Canon Law
Munus is a very common term in the Code of Canon Law, occurring a total of 188 times.
The Latin forms which appear in the Code are Munus (77 times), Muneris
(26 times), Muneri (2 times), Munere (48 times), Munera (20 times)
Munerum (6 times) and Muneribus (9 times).
While the length of this conference does not me to cite them all, I will refer to the most important occurrences.
I will omit citing Canon 331, 333, 334 and 749, where speaking of the
Papal Office, the code uses the words Munus. In no other canons does it
speak of the Papal office per se, except in Canon 332 §2, which governs
Papal renunciations, where it also uses munus.
But as to the proper sense of munus in the Code, let us look at the most significant usages:
First as regards predication, where the Mind of the Legislator indicates
when any given proper sense of this term can be said to be a another
This occurs only once in canon 145, §1
Can. 145 – § 1. Officium ecclesiasticum est quodlibet
munus ordinatione sive divina sive ecclesiastica stabiliter constitutum
in finem spiritualem exercendum.
Which in English is:
Canon 145 § 1.An ecclesiastical office
(officium) is any munus constituted by divine or ecclesiastical
ordinance as to be exercised for a spiritual end.
Second, as regards the canons governing the events of Feb. 11, 2013,
there is Canon 40, which Cardinal Sodano and his assistants had to
refer to in the moments following the Consistory of Feb 11, 2013:
Can. 40 — Exsecutor alicuius actus administrativi invalide suo munere
fungitur, antequam litteras receperit earumque authenticitatem et
integritatem recognoverit, nisi praevia earundem notitia ad ipsum
auctoritate eundem actum edentis transmissa fuerit.
Canon 40: The executor of any administrative act invalidly conducts his munus (suo munero),
before he receives the document (letteras) and certifies (recognoverit)
its integrity and authenticity, unless previous knowledge of it has
been transmitted to him by the authority publishing the act itself.
Third, as regards to the distinction of munus and the fulfillment of a
duty of office, there is Canon 1484, §1 in regard to the offices of
Procurator and Advocate in a Tribunal of Eccleisastical Jurisdiction:
Can. 1484 – § 1. Procurator et advocatus antequam munus suscipiant, mandatum authenticum apud tribunal deponere debent.
Which in English is:
Canon 1484 §1. The procurator and advocate ought to
deposit a copy of their authentic mandate with the Tribunal, before they
undertake their munus.
Note here, significantly, that the Code associates the mandate to
exercise an office with the undertaking of the munus (munus).
Negatively, therefore, what is implied by this canon is that when one
lays down his mandate, there is a renunciation of the munus.
Finally, in regard to possibile synonyms for munus, in the Code we have
Canon 1331, §2, n. 4, which is one of the most significant in the entire
code, as we shall see: There is forbidden the promotion of those who
4 nequit valide consequi dignitatem, officium aliudve munus in Ecclesia
Which in English reads:
He cannot validly obtain a dignity, office and/or any munus in the Church.
If there was every any doubt about the Mind of the Legislator of the
proper sense of terms in the Code of Canon law regarding what Munus
means, this canon answers it by equating dignity, office and munus as things to which one cannot be promoted!
Note well, ministerium is not included in that list! thus Ministerium does not signify a dignity, office or munus!
This study of Munis and Ministerium in the Code thus concludes, for the
lack of time. We have seen that the Code distinguishes clearly between
the terms of officium, munus, ministerium, potestas and dignitas. It
predicates officium of munus alone, It equates dignitas and munus and
officium. It distinguishes between potestas and ministerium.
The only sane conclusion is, therefore, that munus and ministerium are
distinct terms with different meanings. They cannot substitute for one
another in any sentence in which their proper senses are employed. Munus
can substitute for officium, when officium means that which regards a
title or dignity or ecclesiastical office.
Thus in Canon 332 §2, where the Canon reads, Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet.
The Code is not speaking of ministerium, and if it is speaking of any
other terms, it is speaking of a dignitas or officium. But the papal
office is a dignitas, officium and a munus. thus Canon 332 §2 is using
munus in its proper sense and referring to the papal office.
(This is a transcript of my first talk at the Conference on the
Renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI, which took place at Rome on Oct 21,
2019, the full transcript of which is found here)
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church as well as the
Triumph of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate
Heart of Mary. 
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