QUAERITUR: What will Benedict XVI be called after his abdication?

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.

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  1. disco says:

    I like ‘Cardinalissimo’. Saw that over at Rorate.

  2. sw85 says:

    According to a very knowledgeable Franciscan friend of mine, “Benedict XVI” will essentially cease to exist and he will revert to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. He will in fact be called bishop emeritus of Rome, a title that hasn’t had to be conferred on any one in a long time. Evidently becoming Pope does not strip of you subsidiary titles, only responsibilities (e.g., if the Bishop of Yonkers becomes Pope, he remains a bishop but the see of Yonkers becomes vacant).

  3. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Cardinal Pontiff?
    Pontifex Humilis?
    Or could the title Patriarch of the West be restored to him?

  4. sw85 says:

    The brilliant Ed Peters also seems to endorse what I relayed above: http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/papa-emeritus/

  5. aladextra says:

    Most everyone seems to be acting as if we are witnessing the new normal. I think the Holy Father’s devotion to St. Celestine indicates that something different is going on. I don’t think resignations are going to become de rigueur by any stretch. I think God’s plan is for resignations to continue to be extraordinarily rare, and those of us looking for precedent are going to be wasting our time as this case will be as unique as those that preceded it, and those that may succeed it 100, 200, or 600 years hence. I will be very surprised to see another resignation in my lifetime and I’m a pretty young man. Hopefully this is more than wishful thinking; I am in fact concerned about changes to the perception of the papacy.

  6. In 2005, the (honorary) clergy of Rome, aka The Sacred College of Cardinals, elected one of their own to be Bishop of that diocese. It was by virtue of said office that he became Pope, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. It is with this understanding, explained to me once many years ago, that I concurred with the Vatican spokesman when he told the AP that Pope Benedict would likely become “Bishop-Emeritus of Rome” upon his abdication.

  7. pfreddys says:

    Because of the high esteem I hold our present Pope I have the suspicion he will eventually retire to a be a monk and be known as “Brother” Benedict.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Well, the few times this has happened before, what were those former Popes called? Surely there are some old documents and parchments down in the Vatican archives. No doubt a motu proprio or something is just about ready to go, detailing all of this?

  9. Kypapist says:

    This may be a little off topic, but over on the Bones’ website, he has an amusing chart listing the “odds” against the Holy Father joining any particular Religious Order upon his retirement (God love him!). The Jesuits are 500 to 1 against.

  10. Tradster says:

    I agree with aladextra. I pray no such actions are taken that would be seen to encourage either papal abdications or term limits as the new norm. Mother Church has enough problems already with the liberals within and without Her walls, especially the ravenously liberal media. Let us not feed them that red meat, too.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    How about ‘renunciation’ as the ‘default’ English term, given his own word choice in Latin and Italian?

    My guess is that Geoffrey is right in some of his points: presumably there are witnesses to the wording of St. Celestine V and Gregory XII, if not original documents, and I would not be surprised if the as yet Holy Father surveyed them before choosing his words.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    How about:


    Maybe make a few records…

    I think the lack of food is getting to me…

  13. TNCath says:

    I would hope the Holy Father retains the title His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, and leave it at that.

  14. Robert of Rome says:

    He will be His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He will not be emeritus bishop of Rome. He will be a Cardinal Bishop.

  15. Jim of Bowie says:

    TNCath, I nlike your idea. After all, deceased Popes are referred to as Pope.

  16. Fr AJ says:

    Off hand I tend to agree with Pope John Paul II when he said the Church was not big enough for two popes in response to a question he was asked about abdicating. Pope Benedict should return (or be named if it was given up) to being a Cardinal. I don’t like the idea of two popes around in this age of confusion although I don’t think we will hear from Pope Benedict again as he will be fearful of being seen as interfering with the new pope.

  17. Fr. Selvester says:

    Bishops of a particular diocese who are translated to another diocese don’t resign the first one. Rather, they are released from the first diocese and incardinated into the new one by the papal appointment. Nevertheless, there is a severing of their ties with the original diocese. The popes titles as a cardinal have been given to someone else…by HIM! So, he does not retain them. It is not clear if he reverts to being a cardinal or if that will have to be conferred on him anew by his successor (as it was for Gregory XII…the last pope to abdicate). All that is certain is that he remains an (arch) bishop in the Church. I think that with the end of the pontificate and the destruction of his seal he should cease to be called Benedict XVI and revert to being Josef Ratzinger. As to what rank he’ll have remains to be seen. If “Bishop-Emeritus of Rome” is used (as seems likely) that may be his “titular”. I’d like to see him made a cardinal again. The other reason all of this is of interest is that it bears on what (if any) coat of arms he’ll use. It is doubtful he will retain the mitre/tiara and keys which belong to the pope, if he continues to use a coat of arms at all, that is. I don’t think he should be addressed as His Holiness or as Pope. There is only one pope at a time.

  18. Fr.WTC says:

    Last time something like this occurred (at the end of the Great Schism) the three popes abdicated and returned to the status of Cardinals of the Roman Church. At their deaths they were all given the honors of a Pope. I suspect that if history is to be followed Pope Benedict will return to his place among the cardinals, and he will be given a titular, which he will most likely not take possession of in person but by proxy. It would be very agreeable to me at least, if he were to become Patriarch of the West Indies, thus reviving a title not in use since the days of the council.

  19. ljc says:

    Fr. AJ,
    I think you’re right that we will never hear from Benedict XVI again. My guess is that Feb 28 is the last day we will ever see or hear from Joseph Ratzinger before his funeral.

  20. Tim Ferguson says:

    I agree that we will probably not see much if anything of Pope Benedict in public. Perhaps a few “photo op” pictures of his successor meeting with him, but little else. Still, the Holy See will need a way to refer to him. I suggest using the pattern set after the resignation of Pope Celestine V, who was canonized as “St. Peter Celestine” – “Joseph Benedict, quondam Papa”

    Should I encounter him in a restaurant or drug store, I will greet him as “Your Holiness”

  21. jhayes says:

    Here is a video of Greg Burke (Vatican communications Director) telling a reporter that he “assumes” that Benedict’s title after February 28 will be “Bishop-Emeritus of Rome”. It starts with scenes of the monastery where he will live


  22. Gus Barbarigo says:

    As to form of address, were His Holiness to be deemed a patriarch during his post-abdication, would the term “Your Beatitude” suffice? The term strikes me as perhaps too alien to the Latin Rite, but it is used by Armenian Catholics, and is otherwise deemed appropriate for bishops of patriarchal rank; it would also distinguish him from those other Eminences. As much as my heart wishes to call Pope Benedict “Your Holiness” indefinitely, that would invite confusion with the person of his successor (which Pope Benedict seems most eager to avoid).

    Also, as to a titular see, why not the Digital Continent? Pope Benedict pushed Catholics to use social media, and himself took the plunge into Twitter. This would allow current titular diocese to remain in place. But where would we put the Virtual Cathedral! (He might wind up “switiching sees” with his successor, provided his successor is a Cardinal…Nothing is following form lately, so who knows!)

    Also, “Papal Cardinal” (as I have heard suggested somewhere) also would seem to invite too much confusion with the office of the Papacy, although the suggestion has a certain ring and logic to it!

    I agree with Tim Ferguson that following the Celestine example, “Joseph Cardinal Benedict” would be appropriate. However, in an effort to stay out of the way of his successor, His (current) Holiness might let it be known that he would not want to re-enter the College of Cardinals. (Much to our dismay!)

  23. WesleyD says:

    Although it seems unwise to disagree with Ed Peters on an issue of canon law, it seems very strange to me that Benedict would revert to being a cardinal upon his resignation. The key question is: Is he a cardinal today? That seems to contradict canon 350’s division of the cardinals into three categories, since Benedict today is certainly not in any of those three groupings. And if he isn’t a cardinal today, then he wouldn’t be one on March 1, although the next pope obviously could make him a cardinal if he chose (and if Benedict/Ratzinger accepted).

    In 1415, Gregory XII resigned. According to an agreement he had made in advance with the Council of Constance, the council declared him Dean of the College of Cardinals. But without going back to the original sources, I can’t tell if that means that they made him a cardinal, or whether they considered him to already be a cardinal and merely promoted him to Dean. (The antipope John “XXIII” continued to claim the papacy until 1418, when he finally submitted to the new pope and was made a cardinal-bishop shortly before his death; the other antipope, Benedict “XIII”, continued to claim the papacy until his death in 1423.)

  24. boko fittleworth says:

    I agree with Fr. AJ and ljc. I think the only people who are going to have to worry about how to address him are some personal attendants and healthcare providers.

  25. WesleyD says:

    Aha, I see that Prof. Basto already cleared up this mystery in a comment on another post on Fr. Z’s blog.

  26. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    WesleyD. Mine’s just a theory, so disagree away!

    But, “revert” is not the word I would use, rather, “resume” his place among the cardinals. Cardinal itself is an office and the office itself, I do not see that he lost (as opposed to some ‘perks’, which he does not need to be cardinal). Check out my post on it, being a cardinal takes care of a whole lot of little points, without the need to make new law for just one man.

    I rather discount history on this one (the Horror!) as the law (and the facts) were soooooooo different then from what they are now. The present law actually covers most of this, I think, if people would read it carefully.

  27. All:

    Concerning whether Pope Benedict would “revert” to being a cardinal; the members of the college are essentially the clergy (albeit honorary) of the Diocese of Rome, a diocese where said clergy happen to choose their bishop from amongst themselves. (See my earlier comment above.) He is already “incardinated” to the Diocese of Rome. I don’t believe there is a provision in recent centuries for being “UNincardinated” from said diocese (again, albeit honorary). As to being addressed as “Your Holiness,” he would no longer be Pope, so it is unlikely that he would be addressed as such. (No, it’s not like being an ex-president.)

  28. Geoffrey says:

    Perhaps it would be something to the effect of: “His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Emeritus of Rome”?

    I am also wondering how on earth would we refer to him, given the situation at the time. For instance, when citing his papal writings, would we say “Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical”? “Cardinal Ratzinger’s encyclical” just doesn’t sound right!

    I would assume that in death, we would just say “Pope Benedict XVI” regardless, since that is how we refer to the few popes that have abdicated.

    And that’s another thing: everyone keeps saying that he “resigned” or “retired”. I am thinking the proper term would be “abdicate”. His Holiness used the word “renounce”. I forget what Canon Law calls it…

  29. Rich says:

    Cardinal Benedict XVI

  30. MarylandBill says:

    Geoffrey, I think the proper way to refer to his explicitly papal writings will be to still refer to them as Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals. His personal writings are a different story.

    I do find it somewhat interesting that we get fixated on the names they choose to reign under. Ultimately isn’t their Baptismal name still their most important name?

  31. iPadre says:

    I would have difficulty referring to him by anything other than “Your Holiness”. Of course he will not longer be Pope, but neither is John Paul, John XXIII, Paul VI and all the others, but we refer to them as Pope. I know they are dead, but a former president is no longer president, but referred to as President Bush, Clinton, etc. Everyone knows they are not the “President” and former Pope are not the “Pope”, but out of respect, they hold their title. Maybe he will wear a white cassock and a red zucchetto and be called the Red Pope. Why not the white cassock, the Pauline Fathers wear one? I know, this goes beyond the name thing, but my random thought.

  32. Jason Keener says:

    To me, it would only make sense that out of courtesy, Pope Benedict XVI should forever be called Pope Benedict XVI, Holy Father, and Your Holiness. It would be silly, I think, for a former Pope to return to the College of Cardinals. Returning to the College of Cardinals would be something like a former President of the United States instead of being called “Mr. President” returning to the use of his titles and privileges when he was a governor or senator, etc. Moreover, I don’t think there will be any confusion in the Church about who the true Pope is if Pope Benedict continues to be called Pope Benedict and Your Holiness. Also, in the Kingdom of Jordan, for example, the fomer Queen is still called Queen Noor, but everyone knows the current and true Queen is Queen Rania.

  33. Michael_Thoma says:

    Why would Eastern Patriarchs who are Cardinals be ranked after Cardinal-Bishops? Most are automatically Cardinal-Bishops by virtue of being Patriarch. How about a new title for these and His Holiness – Cardinal Patriarch? Or just Patriarch, since by history and honor, these should outrank Cardinals as they are heads of sui iurus Churches in their own right. The retired Patriarchs are called “Patriarch-Emeritus”, so then Pope Benedict retired is rightfully His Beatitude, Pope-Emeritus of the Catholic Church, Patriarch-Emeritus of the Latin Church, Bishop-Emeritus of Rome Benedict XVI.

  34. defreitas says:

    I would hope that he is titled “His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Bishop-Emeritus of Rome”.
    If they had any imagination they could refer to him as “His Beatitude” to differentiate him from the new pope.
    It would be very painful if he were to revert to “His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger”.
    The veneration accorded to a successor of Peter would be insulted.
    If Pope Benedict would happen to join the Benedictine Order, then “Brother Benedict” would do nicely.

  35. Animadversor says:

    A few bald, unsupported assertions—and as always, quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. Although what follows seems reasonable to me, perhaps anyone who can point out any facts or reasons which suggest otherwise will do so.

    1) When a man becomes Bishop of Rome, he ceases to hold his previous ecclesiastical offices; therefore, when His Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lordship Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was translated from the sees of Ostia and Velletri-Segni to that of Rome, he at once ceased to be a member of the Sacred College; moreover, he in like manner ceased to be the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, etc., etc. When he ceases to be Bishop of Rome, he will not resume automatically some “dormant” status as a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, as though he had simply refrained from the active use of that title in order to use a higher one, because he has already lost the cardinalatial dignity, and it is not there for him simply to resume its use with no further ado. He would have to be created a cardinal anew.

    2) While creating him a cardinal would answer several juridical questions about his new status, as Dr. Peters has noted, it might also create problems. I believe that cardinals who are resident in Rome, even retired, are summoned (Can. 353 §1–3) to the various ordinary consistories, as well as the extraordinary ones. It might be awkward to have him there, amongst the other cardinals, but maybe not.

    3) With regard to the possibility of the title of Bishop Emeritus, we read in Canon 185

    Ei, qui ob impletam aetatem aut renuntiationem acceptatam officium amittit, titulus emeriti conferri potest.

    which in English is

    The title ’emeritus’ may be conferred on one who loses office by reason of age, or of resignation which has been accepted.

    So, a former pope would not become automatically Bishop Emeritus of Rome, but rather that title would have to be conferred upon him by the new pope. It is interesting to note that the code mentions men whose resignation has been accepted, a circumstance that will not apply to former popes. Of course a new pope will not be juridically bound by this, and will be able to confer upon him the title of Bishop Emeritus, the lack of acceptance of the abdication notwithstanding

    4) People have suggested that the Holy Father must be nearer to death than we have imagined, and so that is why he is abdicating. Maybe, but I imagine that if he really thought that death were imminent, then he might just remain until it quickly came. What I think that he does not want to see is an extended time as pope without him being able to do well, or even barely adequately, his duty. Imagine if he were to sink into genuine mental or physical incapacity, or worse, and remain there for years, not even being able to place a juridically valid act, not even an act of abdication. Surely he has weighed the down side of an abdication on people’s perception of the papacy—and it is a big down side, I think—and decided that , all in all, abdication is the best thing to do. Perhaps he has decided wrongly, but I don’t doubt his good will, and surely he is in a position to know exactly what the realities are here and to consider them prudently.

    5) Although the Holy Father has indicated that he intends to take up a discreet residence in the Vatican City, we should remember that this plan will only come to fruition if his successor permits it. Perhaps it will turn out to be unworkable, and he will be better off in some other place. Or perhaps not.

    6) As for an honorific style, if he were created a cardinal again, then Eminence, otherwise Excellency, as for any other bishop. But perhaps something special should be done.

    7) As for his funeral, would it be just as though he had died while pope, or would it be the funeral of a cardinal or a bishop? Perhaps something special pro illa vice.

  36. When a man becomes Bishop of Rome … he at once ceased to be a member of the Sacred College …”

    In other words, when he became Bishop of Rome, he ceased to be counted among the clergy of Rome, which is what the Sacred College essentially is. Or is that another “bald assertion”?

  37. Christophorus1208 says:


  38. WesleyD says:

    manwithblackhat seems skeptical about:

    In other words, when he became Bishop of Rome, he ceased to be counted among the clergy of Rome, which is what the Sacred College essentially is. Or is that another “bald assertion”?

    The college of cardinals is not identical to the clergy of Rome. There was a time in the early centuries of the Church when bishops (or more likely, some bishops) were elected by all the clergy of their dioceses. However, the college of cardinals initially included the presbyters of the diocese of Rome, the deacons of the diocese (back in the era when deacons assisted the bishop), and the bishops of the neighboring dioceses.

    Today, there must be a significant number of auxiliary bishops in the diocese of Rome (as the pope himself certainly doesn’t preside at every confirmation in the city), as well as retired auxiliary bishops, and hundreds of priests. All of these are clearly clergy of Rome, and yet few (none?) of them are cardinals.

    I agree that if the pope abdicates without making any other provisions or changes, he will remain incardinated in the diocese of Rome. Canonically that would put him in a similar status to a retired auxiliary bishop from that diocese.

    I’m still betting he releases a motu proprio clarifying such things. After all, someday a pope might abdicate at age less than 80, and it will make a big difference at that point! Or even stranger, suppose that in the future a man is elected pope who has never been a cardinal, and suppose that pope later wanted to abdicate but be a cardinal; could he make himself a cardinal while still pope and then abdicate the papacy? Just as Queen Elizabeth wanted to change the rules of succession when her linear descendants are all male, it might be prudent for such things to be put into canon law now, when such scenarios are farfetched. Of course a future pope could just change the law, but popes hesitate to do that without good reason.

  39. “Today, there must be a significant number of auxiliary bishops in the diocese of Rome (as the pope himself certainly doesn’t preside at every confirmation in the city), as well as retired auxiliary bishops, and hundreds of priests. All of these are clearly clergy of Rome, and yet few (none?) of them are cardinals.”

    After all, the term “cardinal” and “incardinated” have the same root, do they not?

    To be more precise (and I was in an earlier remark on the same subject), they are honorary clergy of Rome, which explains why each of them has a titular church there, even if they rarely set foot in them. That this College would include bishops of suburbicarian dioceses would not affect the concept much, if at all.

  40. Animadversor says:

    Dear manwithblackhat, when you compress my two clauses into

    When a man becomes Bishop of Rome … he at once ceased to be a member of the Sacred College …”

    you create a disagreement in number between subject and verb that wasn’t in my original. Please don’t do that.
    You have misunderstood and misconstrued my words. The term “Sacred College” does not, as you suggest, mean essentially the clergy of Rome. It means, as a collectivity, the cardinal clergy of Rome, that is, the Cardinal Bishops, Priests and Deacons. The reverend clergy of Rome are a much larger group, and I have never known them to be referred to as the Sacred College. The Holy Father very certainly ceased to be a cardinal when he became Bishop of Rome. He did not then cease to be incardinated into the clergy of Rome. Indeed, even if he had not been previously incardinated into the clergy of Rome, becoming pope would have effected that eo ipso.
    But this brings to mind an interesting question about cardinals (Dr. Peters!): does creation as a cardinal bring about incardination into the Diocese of Rome? One would think it does, but that would mean that Cardinal Dolan, for example, would be incardinated into the Diocese of Rome as well as into the Archdiocese of New York. Is is possible to be incardinated into two different ecclesiastical jurisdictions? It seems odd. Or is it that cardinals who are, for example, residential bishops are not incardinated into the Diocese of Rome, but that cardinals who have, say, curial posts, are so incardinated. That would put cardinals such as Cardinal Dolan in the odd position of being, as a cardinal, officially one of the principal clergy of Rome, but at the same time not incardinated into the Diocese of Rome. Odd! Anyone know?

  41. “you create a disagreement in number between subject and verb that wasn’t in my original. Please don’t do that.”

    I was confining myself to one point, and one only. That was all. There was no ill will or malfeasance intended.

    “[D]oes creation as a cardinal bring about incardination into the Diocese of Rome?”

    No. I’ve used this word several times now: honorary.

  42. Penta says:

    Non-trivial question: As a former Pope, will he still be given Swiss Guard “close custody” protection (ie, bodyguards, not just the general protection provided everybody in the Vatican City State)?

    I have occasional fears of the Holy Father renouncing the See of Peter and promptly being kidnapped or attacked. Farfetched, I know…But so was the notion of a Pope leaving the post while still alive.

  43. Animadversor says:

    manwithblackhat: dear Sir, I was just being—I thought—playful with you, and perhaps indulging in a little bit of, apparently all-too-subtle, self-parody. I never imagined imagined ill will, though I’m undecided about malfeasance.

    I’ve no doubt that you’ve used the word honorary almost as many times as you’ve needed to, and mostly in the right places. But you didn’t say it in when you wrote your objection to my original post. Now if you’d said that I said “he ceased to be counted among the honorary clergy of Rome,” that would be something different, maybe; but you said that I asserted that the Holy Father ceased to be a member of the Roman clergy when he became pope, which I did not say, nor could anyone who understood what I wrote reasonbly infer that that’s what I meant.

    Reverend moderator, have we tumbled to the bottom of a rabbit hole. If so, please stop us, since I don’t think we can stop ourselves!

  44. Animadversor says:

    Please mentally replace the period at the end of the penultimate sentence of my last post with a question mark. Now there’s malfeasance on my part!

  45. dn.philip.mathew says:

    As an Orthodox, I must admit I find this discussion rather strange, perhaps because we see patriarchs retire and peacefully co-exist with their successors much more often than Catholics.

    Unless I’m mistaken, when our patriarchs retire, they retain patriarchal honorifics, titles, vesture, liturgical customs, etc. except those that are specifically tied to jurisdiction (because they no longer have jurisdiction). And this is the case even if they continue to minister publicly. There is never any doubt over who’s “number one”, and yet we continue to honor our fathers.

    I see no reason (barring some precedent in your own history or canons) why Benedict couldn’t continue being referred to as Pope, addressed as “Holiness”, keep his current coat of arms, retain the title of Bishop of Rome (with an “emeritus” attached), the distinctive papal dress, etc. Were he to celebrate Mass publicly, probably the only vestment I can imagine him not being entitled to use is the pallium, since my understanding is that it’s tied to jurisdiction in your Church, and does not apply to the episcopacy as a whole (as it does for us). Neither he nor his predecessor used a tiara, so that’s out too. Perhaps he reverts to a “regular” bishop’s crosier rather than what he uses now. But really, other than that sort of stuff, I can’t imagine why he can’t continue as before, especially when he’s clearly renounced jurisdiction and indicated he wants to keep a low profile in the future and not even appear to interfere with his successor’s ministry.

    I am sad to see him go. I was in seminary when he was elected, and remember getting permission to be excused from Greek in order to watch the news; we were all excited at his election, and I’ve followed his pontificate with interest. His writings have an “Orthodox” flair that is fairly uncommon among recent Catholic authors I’ve read. If his “disappearing” is due to his health or his desire for greater prayer, that’s one thing, but I would feel bad if he “disappeared” from public life and ministry because “having two Popes is confusing”…if people can understand “ineffable” and “consubstantial”, they can understand “emeritus”.

  46. Animadversor says:

    manwithblackhat, what do you think of observation #4 at my original post?

  47. Animadversor:

    Maybe the good Father wants to sit back and see how we work it out ourselves. I just assumed (incorrectly, perhaps) that if I used the word “honorary” enough, it would be understood in subsequent references to the same. (That the words “cardinal” and “incardinated” have a similar root word was always a big tip-off, at least for me.) In any case, I think we understand one another now, so we can stop ourselves without any help.

    Although I admit, I’m undecided about “playful.”

  48. Animadversor:

    You have asked for my opinion of observation #4 of your original post.


    When I’m not writing here, I am usually writing elsewhere, wherein I may have addressed that. You are welcome to inquire further in that venue if you wish.


  49. Animadversor says:

    dn.philip.mathew, the Orthodox practice that you describe is very attractive. Do you know if that is also the practice among Eastern Christians in communion with the Roman See? In any case, it doesn’t sound terribly different from how bishops emeriti are treated in the Latin Church. I think that the difficulty comes from the unique qualities that we ascribe to the Bishop of Rome, which the Orthodox do not ascribe even to the Bishop of New Rome. I don’t think that such treatment of a former pope would be necessarily incompatible with the proper respect for the actual pope, but it just feels odd to us. Perhaps it’s the novelty.

  50. jhayes says:

    IPadre wrote ” a former president is no longer president, but referred to as President Bush, Clinton, etc”

    No, only the media refer to a past President that way, If you were introducing him as the speaker at a banquet you would say “…the Honorable George W. Bush” or …the Honorable George W. Bush, the forty-third president of the United States. If you were introducing someone to him, you would say “Mr. Bush, may I present….”

    The rule is that if only one person can hold an office at a time, the previous holder does not use the title. If several people can hold the office at once, each keeps the title – e.g. once a Senator, always a Senator, in or out of office.

    See: http://www.formsofaddress.info/former.html#FO003

  51. This is a bit off the main conversation that has been carried out regarding the details surrounding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, but I have to ask the same question as Michael_Thoma:

    How in the world is it possible that Patriarchs of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, united in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, if made into Cardinals, would rank lower than Cardinal-Bishop of the Latin Church?

    At a minimum, for Sacred Tradition’s sake, they should be equal to the Cardinal Bishops. In truth, however, the position and title of Patriarch is an altogether different, and more prestigious and authoritative office than that of a Cardinal. Patriarchs are Fathers and Heads of particular Apostolic Churches, distinct Churches within the communion of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church — an image of what the Pope is to the universal Church in that capacity of his complex personal office which incorporates multiple different layers in it, and drawing upon the Pope’s office, united to the aspect of it that he serves toward the Latin Church.

    The entire system of appointing Patriarchs as Cardinals is novel and backwards, to be honest, and a product of a very awkward and unhistorical understanding of the Catholic Church, a very Latin-centric one, which involves Patriarchs in the affairs of an office which is peculiar to the Latin Church’s history from the Pentarchy onward. That’s silly and betrays an understanding of the Catholic Church as synonymous with the West’s history, which is patently false.

  52. Imrahil says:

    Dear @JonathanCatholic,

    at the risk of annoying the Orthodox: Successors of the Apostles are the Bishops; not limited to the Patriarchs.

    Successor of St. Peter in his jurisdiction of the whole Church is the Pope.

    I do not doubt there is somewhere an actual place for Patriarchs in between, and I do not doubt that special honor is attached to, say, the Holy Apostolic Church of the See of Alexandria (by which I mean the Catholic bishop there, and not even in his capacity as patriarch of a sui juris Church, but as bishop of a diocese)… but even though a little lesser in degree (if we may say), the honor due to the Holy Church of the See of Springfield in Massachuseets, U. S., is not substantially different. Yet the authority due to the Sacred Church of Rome is different, for it is called to govern all the others.

    Besides, it never was said that the Patriarchs rank below Cardinal Bishops altogether. It was only said they rank below them within the College of Cardinals. As they do not even have a Cardinalatial title (which some people found a strange innovation back then), and the College of Cardinals as such belongs to the clergy of the particular diocese of Rome, that is not illogical.

  53. AnnAsher says:

    “Most everyone seems to be acting as if we are witnessing the new normal”(aladextra) That – besides not liking it at all – is exactly what I don’t like.

    I am horrified and stupified.

  54. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Am not sure why he would be called Bishop Emeritus of Rome rather than Archbishop Emeritus of Rome. My understanding is that retired bishops or archbishops are not made titular bishops. I assume that in order for Benedict to be a cardinal again the new pope would have to make that explict. St. Cecilia and St. Maria in Trastevere are available–either would be nice. Or perhaps the new pope could give Benedict whichever see, title, or deaconry he was relinquishing. There’s poetry in that too.

    My understanding is that traditionally, the Lateran Archbasilica is the title of the pope and that in theory until the 16th century, the pope wore red since he was still considered a member of the sacred college. Other than the change in wardrobe, has the rest of that changed?

  55. BLB Oregon says:

    Since retirement has pressed itself upon him to such a degree, I think he will retire entirely, making this a moot point with regards to public protocol. He will remain cloistered at all times, and that is a right precedent. In keeping with his humble nature, it is unlikely to concern him if he is technically a cardinal or not or even if he is a bishop or not, because he is to be entirely retired from the episcopal ministries and the practical need for titles and rank.

    As for what title he is to be given when there is a need for those still in the world to refer to him, I think he will let others concern themselves with that. I would guess that Bishop Emeritus of Rome will suffice, but in the practical need to refer to him, consider that even now he is sometimes referred to as “the then-Cardinal Ratzinger” when talking about his body of work before he became Pope. He may be referred to as often as not as the predeccessor of the Pope, and so for practical purposes he will still be referred to as Benedict XVI. The next Pope, when referring to him in official papers, would refer to him as “our predecessor, Benedict XVI” while he lives and “our predecessor of blessed memory, Benedict XVI” after he dies, since the reference will essentially always be in the context of his actions and writings while he exercised the Petrine ministry. I expect that medical personnel and any others who visit him in private will still refer to him as “Your Holiness”.

  56. BLB Oregon says:

    I am not worried about this becoming “the new normal”. Our Holy Father did not “bail out early”, after all. He is the fourth oldest living Pope of all time, and some men undoubtedly have greater energy than he does at a more advanced age. He made it entirely clear that this decision belongs to the Pope alone. The Pope who was last to make the decision that he was not equal to the demands of the ministry was canonized after death. In spite of the total reliance on God required for any man to even hope to be up to such an otherwise overwhelming ministry, however, a repeat of that decision was not made for another 600 years. It is not as if anyone but the Pope himself can make such a decision! It may be another 600 years before we see it again.

  57. Pedro says:

    In recognition of Anglicanorum coetibus how about “Titular Archbishop of Canterbury?”

    Bishop of Rome Emeritus seems odd to me, as the See of Rome carries with it the Petrine office with its universal primacy. Even if it could be deduced from canon law that the pope remains a cardinal after renouncing the papacy, such a cardinalate would be irregular, as the former pope would have no cardinalatial title and, hence, no particular place in the order of precedence of the hierarchy. An intriguing possibility came to mind: the future pope could create a new title for his predecessor by a supreme legislative act. Specifically, he could create an episcopal cardinalatial title of Rome (like the suburbicarian titles of the Cardinal-Bishops) and give it first place in honor within the episcopal order of the Sacred College. As for the style of the former supreme pontiff it could follow somewhat the usage of the Eastern Patriarchs: Eminentissimus ac Reverendissimus Dominus, Dominus Benedictus XVI (Josephus) S.R.E. Card. Ratzinger, Episcopus Card. Urbis or, in plain English, His Eminence Benedict XVI (Joseph) Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal-Bishop of Rome.

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