Tosatti points out that Corriere turned non-news into the headline and buried the real lead. The non-news, old-news is Benedict XVI saying that “there is one Pope”. The real news is Benedict’s apparent attitude about Biden: it differs from that of Francis. That’s news.
What would have been news would have been a statement from Benedict that “There is only one Pope, and Francis is he, not I, and I have nothing to do with the papacy now.” But I believe Benedict has never said anything like that. That would have been news. Instead, Corriere emphasized what Benedict has been saying, with ambiguity, “there is only one Pope”.
Socci, in the English posted by Tosatti, points out what journalists could have asked and should get answers for:
-Why do you wear white and why are you called “Holy Father Benedict XVI” if there is only one pope?
-Why are you officially called “pope emeritus” if there is no juridical or theological definition of such a title?
-Why do you still give the Apostolic Blessing (or the Papal Blessing), which is a prerogative of the pope (to which a plenary indulgence is attached)?
After all, some people have noted that in some of his recent books are signed “Benedict PP XVI,” with the initials “PP” (Pastor Pastorum), which is the title reserved for the pope. Furthermore, in public ceremonies in which the pope emeritus has participated, some cardinals have bowed down to him and kissed his ring, which they should have done only with the pope.
Vatican journalist Saverio Gaeta has noted that “on Pope Bergoglio’s coat of arms the pallium is missing, while it is present on the coat of arms of Pope Ratzinger: an element that in Vatican symbology is decidedly not negligible.
Individually considered, meh. Taken together, hmm.
Socci then goes into the question of whether or not acceptance of the Petrine Ministry at the election is “irrevocable”. After all, in his last audience, Benedict said that it was “forever”, which suggests that Benedict thinks that the Petrine Ministry is like to the ontological change that comes with ordination. He goes into the curious speech given by Archbp. Gänswein in 2016 about Benedict’s intention to enlarge the Petrine Ministry, so there can be an active and a contemplative member (of the same Petrine office).
Theologians will have to hash through that last one, or we will have to wait for something new from the pen of …who?… I guess Benedict. He either had something in mind and reasons for it, or he didn’t. It would be helpful to have greater clarity so that we can know one way or the other.
The truth will out. And because of his concerns a constitutive element of the Church, the Petrine ministry, and the working of the Holy Spirit due to the many invocations at the time of a conclave, we should ask God the Holy Spirit to illuminate the questions.
It strikes me as unlikely that a Pope on his own can expand the Petrine Ministry, established by Christ. If this is a legitimate development, perceived by the Church over time and consistent with Tradition, the sensus fidelium fidei, etc., well…. maybe. But, if this is an error, it would be a substantial error. And if that substantial error was the basis of Benedict’s motive to resign the active Petrine Ministry without resigning the contemplative, then there would be grounds to raise a question or two about the validity of the resignation. In most cases, figures in the Church cannot resign validly if they are in substantial error about why they are resigning. Does that same standard apply to the Successor of Peter? I don’t know. The Pope is the Legislator and Interpreter, not I.
Just as a mind exercise, we might also remember that another idea has been floated about the resignation of Benedict, whereby he wanted to resign as Bishop of Rome (Successor of Peter), but not as Vicar of Christ (Successor of Peter). Similar to the active and contemplative scenario. Possible? Some say yes. Some say no. Would a Pope be in substantial error in such an attempt? Maybe. Given that Peter became Christ’s Vicar at Caesarea Philippi, not at Rome, and that Peter was Bishop at Antioch, before Rome, it seems that being Vicar of Christ was not, in its origin, dependent on being Bishop of Rome. Are the two offices now so tied together that the one is impossible without the other? Who says? This was debated at the time of Vatican I. Auctores scinduntur.
In any event, you might look at Socci’s piece, which is as much about the journlistic fumble as it was about the larger questions of the papacy.