Today, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, is also the 70th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s ordination to the priesthood.
It seems a propitious a day to deal with questions that pepper my inbox. Questions about Benedict’s resignation.
The questions range from “Did Benedict really resign? Was it valid?” to “If Benedict is really still The Pope, what happens if he passes away before Francis?” to “If Francis isn’t The Pope, and he is naming cardinals, how could there be a legitimate conclave?”
That scratches the surface of the questions.
I will try to deal with these issues dispassionately and work through some of them as mind exercises.
Mind you, I’m not an authority in this matter, in the sense of being able to give a definitive answer: no one really is. The situation we have today, with Francis and Benedict both in white, both in the Vatican City State, both seemingly given apostolic blessings, is unlike anything we have seen in history. Moreover, since your planet’s yellow sun doesn’t give me psychic powers, I can only guess at what, for example, Benedict was thinking when he read his resignation during that fateful consistory in 2013.
Again, our situation is not the same as previous times in the Church when there have been more than one pope, or there has been a resignation. That doesn’t mean that history can’t give us a crowbar.
Over at his splendid blog, Fr. John Hunwicke had an engaging piece provoked by the whirling of your planet back to the annual Feast of St. Silverius, Pope and Martyr (+537).
Fr. H used this occasion to look into a question which vexes many a thoughtful Catholic these days: two popes at the same time. Possible? Fact: Francis is going around doing pope things while Benedict lives in the Vatican Gardens still looking a lot like The Pope. It’s a head-scratcher.
NB: Some people wave away questions about “two popes” or an invalid resignation. To my mind, it is wrong-headed to gloss over hard questions that vex people, to turn a blind eye to them and whistle a happy tune with fingers deep into one’s ears. There are people who are really upset by this situation. We have an obligation to tackle these questions head on in order to put people at ease about them. Let’s do that.
Back to Fr Hunwicke’s piece.
Background first: In 537, the Byzantine general Flavius Belisarius entered Rome and deposed Pope Silverius who had been elected the previous year. Belisarius brought in his own guy, Vigilius, and made him Pope while Silverius was still alive (for a few months, at least). So, who was the real Pope?
Is (and Fr. H brings this possibility up) it enough to say that whoever has his “bum on the seat” is The Real Pope? Or is he a usurper and antipope even though he has the chair (aka “see”).
Here’s a mind exercise. Say that there are two “popes”. One of them (Pope 1) was, unquestionably elected according to the proper procedure after the death of his predecessor. He is deposed or maybe resigns but under duress or in a confused way. Another guy is, in these questionable circumstances, elected or imposed as Pope 2 and he starts to pope. Francis didn’t, at first, call himself “Pope” and he seems to have dropped the title “Vicar of Christ”.
Then Pope 1, dies. What then?
Hunwicke, good teacher that he is, gives us more to think about.
One possibility is that another conclave is to be held to replace Pope 1, because he was the real Pope.
Otherwise, “pragmatically”, we just say that Pope 2 is now the Pope and no conclave is necessary until he should die.
That’s what happened with Silverius and Vigilius. Vigilius was, in effect, an antipope because Silverius was deposed by force. But he seamlessly is acknowledged as legitimate Pope when news arrives that Silverius is dead.
Hunwicke provides something from dom Gueranger concerning Silverius and Vigilius (my emphases):
“The inevitable play of human passions, interfering in the election of the Vicar of Christ, may perchance for a while render uncertain the transmission of spiritual power. But when it is proved that the Church … acknowledges in the person of a certain pope, until then doubtful, the true Sovereign Pontiff, this her very recognition is a proof that, from that moment at least, the occupant of the Apostolic See is as such invested by God himself.”
Do you get that? No matter how strange a path by which some fellow became the one with his “bum in the chair”, when “the Church” acknowledges him, then he is the legitimate Pope.
Note well that phrase, “from that moment at least”. Until that time, doubtful. Afterward, certain.
This suggests that there is a way in which being Vicar of Christ and being Bishop of Rome can be, momentarily at least, bifurcated.
And as far as the authority of the separated-Bishop of Rome, his jurisdiction is concerned, I guess that would have to be an amazing case of Ecclesia supplet. According to can. 144:
“In factual or legal common error and in positive and probable doubt of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and internal forum.”
So, even if Francis is in a chair he shouldn’t be in, that of the Bishop of Rome, his juridical acts could be valid because the Church supplies the jurisdiction. Hence, he can name clergy to Roman Churches… who are the Cardinals… who form the next conclave.
Again, satisfying answer?
If we were to apply this to the questions raised by smart and devout Catholics about the legitimacy – validity – of Benedict’s resignation and the subsequent election of Francis what would we say?
IF Benedict still is truly the only legitimate Pope, and if he outlives Francis and there is another conclave, we are in pretty much the same position as we are now. More on that, and on the conclave that would follow, below.
IF Benedict, still truly the only legitimate Pope, dies before Francis, then – according to what Gueranger wrote about the situation of Silverius and Vigilius – Francis would be Pope because he is sitting in the chair no matter how he got there. This is because “the Church” (I guess that’s a majority of people in the Church, especially the hierarchy and cardinals who elected him) says he is. Again, Ecclesia supplet.
Of course the vast majority now say Francis is The Pope, period, end of discussion. They don’t raise questions. Some even scoff at those who do.
For some smart people that is not the end of the discussion. They have hard questions and not all the answers are perfectly clear. Thus, they keep asking the questions. Some leave the unity of the Church for Orthodoxy or Sedevacantism today’s situation. I believe those are foolish escapes into fantasy.
In this mind exercise, if Benedict is still The Real Pope, and he dies before Francis, must there be conclave to elect a new Pope or does Francis by default become Pope (cf. Gueranger)?
It’s the stuff of a ripping good novel.
By the way, in the same year as Francis – who from 2013 onward usually only referred to himself as “Bishop of Rome” – ordered that Pachamama demon idol bowl placed on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, a thing hard to imagine a Vicar of Christ doing, he also dropped the title “Vicar of Christ” from his own person, relegating it to a “historical title”. HERE
Let’s play the mind exercise out a little more and hack through some of the issues which I have heard raised by, for example, Ann Barnhardt, who is without question of the mind that Benedict is still Pope and Francis is a usurper antipope. Along with Ann is a smart fellow with well-articulated arguments, Edward Mazza.
I’ll try to spin out what they have been discussing. I hope I don’t put my foot wrong and mischaracterize their positions. I’m happy to be corrected.
It seems that… in their view…
Benedict did NOT legitimately resign, because the language he used at the time he announced his resignation is confused. The confused language suggests that Benedict intended to resign the active dimension of his role, his ministerium (for example, doing stuff as Bishop of Rome and doing stuff as Pope to the larger world). However, he did not intend to resign his munus as Vicar of Christ. Much turns on the technical term munus.
The fact is that munus and ministerium do not mean the same thing, though they are often bound together. For example, one carries out a certain ministry in the Church because he holds an office, a munus. Canon law says that the Pope has to resign the munus.
Canon 332 §2: Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur. … If it should come to pass that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and that it be properly manifested, but not that it is accepted by anyone.
But Benedict said in his resignation:
Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commisso renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.… For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Words have meanings. It is not right simply to conflate munus and ministerium as if they are interchangeable. They are closely tied to each other but they are not synonyms. Not even close.
It is interesting to read the Canon that introduces the figure of the Roman Pontiff, the Pope:
Can. 331 — Ecclesiae Romanae Episcopus, in quo permanet munus a Domino singulariter Petro, primo Apostolorum, concessum et successoribus eius transmittendum, Collegii Episcoporum est caput, Vicarius Christi atque universae Ecclesiae his in terris Pastor; qui ideo vi muneris sui suprema, plena, immediata et universali in Ecclesia gaudet ordinaria potestate, quam semper libere exercere valet. … The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom persists the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.
First, in this, we see the person of the Bishop of the Roman Church. In this Roman Bishop one thing which “continues, endures”: a munus given by Christ. Permaneo is “to stay to the end; to hold out, last, continue, endure, remain; to persist, persevere”. Sounds rather “permanent”, no? This munus can be and must be (-ndum) passed to his successors. It goes from one Bishop of Rome to another. If you are legitimately Bishop of Rome, the munus is yours. It is reasonable to assume that the three things that follow in the canon, are results of this munus, and they go to whomever is legitimately Bishop of Rome, namely, 1) “Head of the college of Bishops, 2) Vicar of Christ, 3) Pastor of the universal Church on earth. On earth, not in heaven.
There is some evidence (e.g., a speech given by Archbp. Gaenswein) that Benedict reasoned that he could tease the active, ministerial role of the papacy away from the interior, perhaps even ontological, reality of being Vicar of Christ, an office which, once offered by the current legitimate practice (i.e., conclave) and accepted, cannot be lost until death or proper form of resignation (which Canon Law described). Hence, if that accurately describes Benedict’s thought, if a pope is invested as Vicar of Christ, he can’t lose that office even if he resigns as, say, Bishop of Rome. Why? Because, in this line of thought, it is “permanent” (cf. permaneo). Of course we can say that something is permanent, until it isn’t. The Washington Monument is a permanent structure… but it could be knocked down.
Let’s stick with “permanent” for a moment. There is permanence in the sense of baptism or Holy Orders. Matrimony is also permanent, until it isn’t. While the spouses are alive on earth, they are legitimately married, bound to each other by a bond that no man can break. On earth, it is permanent. Yet, when one of them dies, the other is no longer married. The bond ceases. On the other hand, when you are baptized or ordained, a permanent mark is on the soul such that even after death you remain baptized or ordained.
Now look at that phrase: “pastor of the universal Church on earth…. universae Ecclesiae his in terris Pastor.” Look at the structure. The words his in terris are inserted between Ecclesiae and Pastor. Not only that, in separates his and terris. Two examples of timesis, the separation of words that go together with other words, one timesis creating the other timesis.
The Latin of Canon Law isn’t really the place where one expects elegant flourishes. It’s legalese and, as such, it’s precise. Words and their arrangement have meanings. Does this elegant timesis within timesis, like onion peels, suggest that the dimension of the munus which confers being Pastor of the Church endures (permaneo) only while on earth? Again, words and their organization have meanings. If, for example, that sentence read: “Collegii Episcoporum est caput, Vicarius Christi atque universae Ecclesiae Pastor his in terris…”, it could seem that all three, Head, Vicar, Pastor, are only “his in terris“, while on earth. In the actual sentence, there is Head and Vicar and then, Pastor-while-on-earth. In English, it could sound like his in terris applies to all three but the Latin strongly connects it to Pastor, otherwise… why the timesis which obviously calls attention to it in Latin?
There is another timesis in that canon which emphasizes that the Roman Pontiff has full authority… where? Let’s see “suprema, plena, immediata et universali in Ecclesia gaudet ordinaria potestate”. All those adjectives connect to the last word, the noun potestas. Plop in Ecclesia smack into the middle of all that and you underscore that a pope’s power is in the Church, not in the world. He can command that which has to do with the Church, but he cannot command world leaders or make civil laws (outside Vatican City State).
Where is this going?
This Adventure In Timesis suggests that somehow being Pastor doesn’t have the same quality as being Head and Vicar. Just to spin that out a little more, could Pastor be the way that ministry is connected juridically to the munus that endures? Is this the way by which Benedict may have thought that he could separate ministerium and munus, remaining Vicar of Christ (an interior state of being) while handing over the activity, the ministry, of Bishop of Rome?
I’m not saying hereby that, because of this phrase, the state of being Vicar of Christ endures in heaven, like priesthood or baptism. However, it seems to me that that is something that Benedict suggested: that once conferred the state of being Vicar of Christ was like to, similar to, an ontological mark on the soul. So, resign the ministry of Pastor, and the qualities given by the munus of Vicarius and Caput remain.
This brings up some pretty interesting questions.
There have been discussions, for example around the time of Vatican I, about the nature of the papacy, the Petrine office. Among these questions is that of the connection of the papacy, the office of Vicar of Christ, with the See of Rome.
Is the Petrine Office absolutely and inextricably bound up with being the Bishop of Rome?
When Christ made Peter His Vicar at Caesarea Philippi, Peter wasn’t bishop of anything, much less of Rome. He wasn’t even a priest. That would come at the Last Supper. At that times Christ redefined who Peter was and renamed him. Inwardly, something was new about Peter. He had a munus. He didn’t lose it with his threefold denial during the Passion. Later, at See of Galilee in John 21, Peter was already Vicar of Christ when (now a priest and bishop), he was reconciled with the Lord for his threefold denials. At that time, Christ described more fully what Peter was to do: feed my sheep. Peter, who had an inward munus, then also had an active ministerium that flowed from the enduring munus. Later, Peter went to Antioch and founded a Church. Even later, Peter went to Rome where he died. A new Vicar of Christ was chosen in Rome, thus sealing the deal: Peter’s successor is both Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ. He has both the inward munus, and the outward ministerium.
But is being Vicar of Christ absolutely bound up with being Bishop of Rome?
Today we celebrate Sts. Peter and Paul, namely their martyrdom in Rome. Perhaps by Peter’s martyrdom, being Vicar of Christ (and Head and Pastor) was inextricably welded with being Bishop of Rome. Perhaps not.
The fact remains that Peter was Vicar of Christ before he was ordained, before left the Holy Land, before he went to Rome. Being Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ were not, in an absolute sense, tied together. Are they now? Auctores scinduntur.
BTW… I once was chatting with Card. Ratzinger in the halls of the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio. He jokingly quipped that he was glad that Peter stopped in Rome and didn’t go north to Germany. “Think of the great efficiency with which we could make our mistakes!” At least the Italian way of doing things slows down the effects of incompetence. I bring that up because I think that Ratzinger had pondered the connection of being Bishop of Rome and being Vicar of Christ long before he was elected as both.
Back to the issue of Benedict’s resignation. Let’s tease out some threads.
If the somewhat ambiguous use of what are technical terms in the resignation really means something, namely that Benedict intended to resign as Bishop of Rome but not as Vicar of Christ, and IF THE OFFICES ARE SEPARABLE, Benedict could still be Vicar of Christ while the guy the cardinals elected in the conclave of 2103 would really be the Bishop of Rome. After all, the cardinals are really clergy of Rome. That’s why all cardinals have assigned churches in Rome. In the ancient way of things, the Roman clergy elected their bishop when the See of Rome was empty. As it happens, that Bishop of Rome is also now Vicar of Christ because Bishop of Rome Peter was Vicar of Christ.
BUT… if it really is possible to resign the ministry of Peter as Bishop of Rome without resigning the office of Vicar of Christ, and if that is what Benedict intended, then in 2013 the cardinals elected the Roman Pontiff, their Bishop, but not the Vicar of Christ, that office still sticking stubbornly to Benedict.
Back to our scenario of Pope Silverius and Pope Vigilius.
Recall: Silverius is still alive when Belisarius imposes Vigilius. For all purposes he is Bishop in Rome. Vigilius acts like Bishop of Rome while Silverius is still the Vicar of Christ. Silverius dies and Vigilius is… then… what? Vicar of Christ also from the time Silverius dies? It defaults to him because a) the office of Vicar of Christ can be separated from Bishop of Rome though they are still tied together and b) the holder of the office of Vicar of Christ dies, thus “releasing” that office to snap over into Vigilius? That’s Gueranger’s solution.
But wait there’s more.
Still working the mind exercise now.
If the offices can be separated and if Benedict really was trying to separate the office of Vicar of Christ, which he desired to retain (hey… he still wears white, lives in the Vatican, kept his regnal name, etc.) then he is, in a sense, still Pope (insofar as he is Vicar of Christ) but without being Pope (insofar as he is no longer Bishop of Rome). That means that there are two Popes: Benedict (insofar as he would still be Vicar of Christ) and Francis (insofar as he was legitimately elected Bishop of Rome by the Roman clergy, the College of Cardinals, in a legitimate conclave).
Meanwhile, don’t forget what Benedict allegedly said to Corriere della Sera in an incoherent report in March 2020: “Non ci sono due Papi. Il Papa e uno solo… (ellipsis in the original)”, that is, “There are not two Popes. The Pope is one only….”
Remember: “pope” is just a word, a title. It isn’t magic. There are various “popes” in various Churches. Don’t get caught up too much in that one word.
However, if, as some people think, the offices CANNOT be separated, then Benedict was in substantial error about what he was trying to do. This is Ann and Edward’s position. Being in substantial error about the terms of his resignation would mean that the resignation itself was invalid. That would mean that Benedict is still Vicar of Christ.
If that is right, then what the cardinals did in the conclave in 2013 was to elect a new Bishop of Rome who, like Vigilius in 537, took Silverius’s See. As Hunwicke puts it: possession is nine tenths of the law.
Therefore, if all of that is right, should Benedict go to God before Francis, then the office of Vicar of Christ might mysteriously – a la Gueranger – attach itself within Francis (Bishop of Rome) and life goes on. If that doesn’t happen, then the office of Vicar of Christ would be empty, as it is normally between pontificates, until Francis should die and the College of Cardinals elects a new Bishop of Rome who will then also be, because of the powerful bond between being Vicar of Christ and Roman Pontiff, both, again in one person.
That said, if Benedict did the resignation properly so as to resign the whole shootin’ match, then all of this is moot: Francis is both Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome whether or not those offices can be separated. That’s the majority position, as you know.
Historically, there were long periods of time when the See of Peter was empty. For example, between the death of Nicholas IV on 4 April 1292 and the election Celestine V (of unhappy memory) on 5 July 1294, 2 years and 3 months passed. Then Celestine resigned and Boniface VIII was the result. Even Dante, who detested Boniface VIII, still defended Boniface’s office, if not his person, in the Divine Comedy.
Historically, there were long periods of time when the Vicar of Christ was not in Rome, starting with Peter. At Caesarea Philippi Peter received his office as Christ’s Vicar in AD 31-32. Peter goes to Rome in, perhaps, the early 50’s and dies in Rome in 64. So, Peter was Vicar of Christ for a long time before he arrived in Rome. Later, the Successors of Peter, who were Bishops of Rome, were away from Rome in Avignon from 1309 to 1377.
The point being that the Church can exist and function for a while without a Vicar of Christ or a Bishop in Rome. Perhaps the office of Roman Pontiff, Vicar of Christ, has, as John O’Malley suggests in his fascinating book on Vatican I, morphed into something that it wasn’t before. No. Better… perhaps our view of popes has, over time, shifted. Perhaps we emphasize the person of The Pope today in a way which clouds other important things.
Let’s be clear. The Petrine Office is a necessary, constitutive part of the Church as Christ founded it. In the short term it can be interrupted, but it is, in the long term, indispensable. The Church is indefectible and, therefore, there will be, to the end, a Successor of Peter, a Vicar of Christ.
At this point you might be wondering what practical effect this has for your life.
In some regards, not much. Popes came and went and things remained stable. Provided you have a couple of solid priests nearby, it doesn’t make a huge difference who the bishop is or who the Pope is. But… wait… bishops are replaced by popes and priests are replaced by bishops. Let there come “new pharaoh who knows not Joseph” and see just how fast he can screw up your faith life in serious ways! Hence, in shorter terms who The Pope is doesn’t make much difference, so long as there is one in one condition or the other, healthy and active or elderly and frail, sharp or not, etc. People once went for years with no idea about even the name of the Pope or that one had died and another was elected. In the long term it does matter.
Another thing you might wondering is, if it makes a difference who the Pope is, and if something is screwed up now in the succession, what’s going to happen? If Benedict is really the Pope and Francis is, but Francis is making all these changes, what is going to happen? If Francis is naming all sorts of cardinals, but Francis isn’t the Pope, then will the conclave be legit? Is this the end of the papacy?
No, the Church is indefectible. Gueranger tried to work through that, above.
Think of it this way. If Benedict was right, and he resigned being Bishop of Rome adequately (some say he didn’t) and Francis was elected to be Bishop of Rome (but isn’t Vicar of Christ), then Francis can name cardinals because cardinals are clergy of Rome. That’s why they have Roman churches. Naming cardinals is a function of the Bishop of Rome. Even if both Benedict and Francis should go to God, there is still a College of Cardinals. The one whom they would elect, Benedicto Franciscoque defunctis, would be The new Pope.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are jittering and puffing, “Why didn’t Benedict just tell us what he was doing? Why do we have to doubt and guess and surmise and … and … guess?”
There are a few theories about why he resigned. Firstly, he said that he didn’t feel up it or have the strength to do it anymore. I think we have to believe that he really thought that. But there may have been additional factors.
For example, it could be that he was under huge pressure from monetary concerns and problems at the “Vatican Bank”. There were reports about internal corruption and a “gay mafia”. It could be that he was worried about his health. He had had a stroke in 1991 and perhaps he was afraid that, with modern medicine, those around him would be able to keep him alive and then act badly in his name and authority. It could be all of those.
Remember: can. 188 says that a resignation made in the state of grave fear inflicted unjustly would be invalid. If Benedict was being pressured by powers that control banking, or if he was being threatened about a dossier or even matters concerning his brother, then he was under duress and the resignation would have been invalid.
Perhaps he did so willingly, but so willed because he was under duress from without and from within that caused him to think that resigning was the best option: and in that case it was willing. It turns into a Catch-22.
Again, why didn’t Benedict say what he was doing? Why doesn’t he say NOW what he tried to do?
If Benedict intended – here comes the speculation again – if he intended to bifurcate the papacy and remain Vicar of Christ while letting go of being actively the Bishop of Rome, then perhaps his use of ministerium rather than munus was a kind of “breadcrumb”, which he knew people would eventually follow. Thus, at the time he was being forced out, but he left tell-tale signs that he was under duress. And that would mean that he wanted people to figure out that his resignation was invalid.
If a Pope doesn’t resign willingly, the resignation is invalid.
If the Pope has in mind some sort of project papacy – like bifurcate it – and that project is in fact impossible, then the Pope is in substantial error and the resignation is invalid.
Can. 188 – A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.
Either way, duress or error, Benedict would still be Pope in the sense of being Vicar of Christ, for sure, and perhaps also of Bishop of Rome.
Breadcrumbs. Here’s another. I alluded to it, above.
[A]llow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. …
The “always” is also a “forever” – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God.
Breadcrumbs. Those remarks in the last audience can be read in different ways. For example, when he says he is not returning to his former life of conferences, etc., remember that as Cardinal Ratzinger he did a lot of that private activity that didn’t have to do with his munus and ministerium as Prefect of CDF and Dean of the College of Cardinals.
And he still dresses like a pope, except that he doesn’t use the shoulder cape that is/was a sign of jurisdiction.
Friends, I think the main point to take from this is, “all shall be well – all manner of things shall be well”.
The Church is indefectible. The Petrine dimension of the Church was willed by Christ as a constitutive element of the Church. Popes come and go. Historically there have been gaps and, as we have seen, overlaps of a kind.
“All shall be well.”
The Holy Spirit, as Joseph Ratzinger pointed out, guides the election of popes in such a way that they don’t cause total disaster. Fallible men elected wicked popes in the past. Some popes were imposed even while others were alive. Turning the sock inside out, it could be that even wicked popes were elected under the influence of the Holy Spirit in order to punish the Church or to awaken her from a slumber and to begin a reform. It could be that the Holy Spirit rigged the election of bad popes precisely to break us from thinking that their every word and action is more important than it really is; to batter down papalotry.
“All manner of things shall be well.”
One way or another, and it won’t be that long from now, all of these questions will be moot. The whole thing will resolve in time.
I apologize for the length of this. I apologize for the repetitions, too. After re-reading I left some in because I wanted to help some people keep track of important points.
I have turned on the moderation queue for this. There will be no Francis bashing. If that’s your point, think again and stick to the topic.