Many have written asking what the Holy Father will be called after he abdicates his office on 28 February.
I haven’t seen anything from the Holy See about this yet.
However, I can speculate. What are blogs for, after all?
First, I assume people will continue to call him “Your Holiness”.
I assume he will still go by the name “Benedict XVI”.
Will he be “Bishop Emeritus” of Rome? I sincerely hope not, but I suspect he will be. In 1994, when the Pope was about to undergo surgery for his broken leg, he said to the surgeon Gianfranco Fineschi: “Doctor, both you and I have only one option. You have to cure me. I have to heal. Because there is no place in the Church for a Pope Emeritus.” HERE.
Will he be made a cardinal by his successor? Perhaps. I have never considered whether upon his election he ceased to be a cardinal. I suspect that is the case. Would the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Black Duck have to resign being Bishop of Black Duck when he is elected Bishop of Rome? Does a Pope resign from the College of Cardinals and resign his titual church or diocese?
In that line of thought I heard an interesting idea last night. Perhaps a new title could be created within – or maybe “next to” – the College of Cardinals.
The College is presently divided into three orders, cardinal deacons, cardinal priests, and cardinal bishops. All cardinals are assigned either a church in Rome (for cardinal deacons and priests) or a Roman diocese (cardinal bishops – I am incardinated in one of those little Roman dioceses though I am on loan to a diocese in the USA). Cardinals who are ordinary bishops of dioceses are generally made cardinal priests, while curial officials are generally made cardinal deacons. After a number of years a cardinal deacon can be “promoted” to the order of priests. Some cardinals in key positions, such as the Dean of the College or prefect of an important dicastery, are elevated to an open slot among the six cardinal bishops. There are seven cardinalatial titular dioceses, but the Dean always has two, Ostia and one other. There are also a four cardinal patriarchs of Eastern Churches, who rank in the College just after the cardinal bishops.
“But Father! But Father!” you might be shouting as you drum your fingers, “What’s the interesting idea?”
It was suggested that perhaps there could be a “Cardinal Pope”. Of course, he wouldn’t be assigned to a diaconal or presbyteral title. To a Roman diocese? Or – along the lines of “Bishop Emeritus” – to the Diocese of Rome? Just as there are ordinary residing bishops in the little Roman Suburbicarian Dioceses, and those little dioceses have assigned to them a cardinal bishop in a titular role, perhaps the retired Pope could be made “titular Pope” of – say – his old cathedral church in Rome, St. John Lateran. Or even of one of the Suburbicarian Dioceses, such as the Holy Father’s former diocese (my diocese) of Velletri -Segni? I think Benedict would like that, as a matter of fact. He was very attached to Velletri-Segni back in the day. He even made a plan to have a house there after his retirement. As you see over the doors of Roman basilicas the coat-of-arms of the diocesan bishop, the Pope, and also of the titular cardinal, over the doors of the cathedral of Velletri there are the coats-of-arms of the Pope, of the titular cardinal and of the local bishop, all three. Cardinal Pope of Velletri-Segni! It might get crowded over the door to add a fourth. Cardinal Pope of Rome with the title of St. John Lateran. Two papal coats-of-arms by the doors? Strange.
I am just musing aloud here, animi caussa.