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FATIMA PERSPECTIVES FROM THE PAPAL CONCLAVE: Two Popes?

FATIMA PERSPECTIVES FROM THE PAPAL CONCLAVE: Two Popes?

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Published by The Fatima Center
As this column appears, the papal conclave is in its first day. While we await the momentous outcome, it seems the issue of Pope Benedict’s decision to retain his title, adding “emeritus,” continues to elicit concern about canonical confusion — as if we needed still more confusion in the Church.
As this column appears, the papal conclave is in its first day. While we await the momentous outcome, it seems the issue of Pope Benedict’s decision to retain his title, adding “emeritus,” continues to elicit concern about canonical confusion — as if we needed still more confusion in the Church.

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Published by: The Fatima Center on Mar 13, 2013
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07/27/2013

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FATIMA PERSPECTIVESFROM THE PAPAL CONCLAVE
Article No. 3
Two Popes?
by Christopher A. FerraraMarch 12, 2013
As this column appears, the papal conclave is in its first day. While we await the
momentous outcome, it seems the issue of Pope Benedict’s decision to retain his title, adding“emeritus,” continues to elicit concern about canonical confusion —
as if we needed still moreconfusion in the Church.I addressed the disturbing impli
cations of Benedict’s novelty in 
(“A
Quasi-
Pope?”). Writing in
La Stampa
back in February, Andrea Tornielli addressed the sameproblem,quoting
Civiltà Cattolica
, the Catholic intellectual journal whose content is vetted bythe Vatican Secretariat of State. The article in
Civiltà
, by the eminent canonist Gianfranco
Ghirlanda, notes that “He who gives up the papal ministry for any reason other than death,
remains a bishop of course, but is no longer pope as he loses all primatial power because he didnot gain this through Episcopal consecration but directly from Christ, after his legitimate
election.” Ghirlanda concludes that the appropriate title for Benedict, if not simply Bishop of 
Rome
emeritus
, would be “former Pope.”
 
In view of this, Tornielli (days before the papal abdication took effect) observed that “t
heoutgoing Pope is no longer Pope, regardless of whether he continues to give his whole life in
service to the Church, through intercessory prayer, ‘hidden from the world.’... ‘Pope Emeritus’
on the other hand risks insinuating he is a second Pope. One gets the impression that little
reflection was given to Ratzinger’s current title, from both a canonistic and theological point of view.” This is hardly the first ill
-considered novelty we have seen in the Church since the SecondVatican Council, however.Y
et Benedict’s decision is not necessarily final, as it will be his successor who determines
whether a living predecessor of his who renounced the papacy can still be called a Pope in any
way, shape or form. Benedict’s preference for a certain title cannot
bind the Pope who
succeeds him. So, how Benedict will be listed in the Church’s official directory of its hierarchy,
the
 Annuario
, remains to be seen. It seems hard to imagine that the
 Annuario
will officially listtwo living persons as having the title Po
pe, with one “retired” from the papacy. But, then again,
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