Monday, February 11, 2013

Just For Fun: Questions This Raises, and How I Would Answer Them

I'm not in charge of the papal transition after this resignation, of course, but there are a few questions it raises regarding Benedict's new role. Some answers are already being floated, but here's how I would answer them, regardless of if this is how things will actually turn out:

1) What should the former Pope's title be?

The best thing, I think, would be to call him Bishop Emeritus of Rome.

2) What place will he have in the "tables of precedence" in the Church? Will he retain the Cardinalatial dignity?

Traditionally, being a Cardinal means that you hold one of the Titles (Sees or parishes or deaconries) in Rome, and on becoming Pope that would seem to cease, given that his former Cardinalatial Titles now have new holders. Still, I think he should definitely remain considered a sort of "Cardinal" or equivalent, part of that College, even though, being over 80, he won't have a role in future conclaves (and should bow out of that anyway, for propriety's sake). He should be ceremonially considered immediately after the new Pope in rank, and a supra-numerary member of the Cardinal-Bishops, similar to Eastern Catholic Patriarchs who are made Cardinal (who, as far as I understand, have no specific Title other than their patriarchate). Or maybe the next Pope will actually re-create him a Cardinal or give him a suburbicarian See if one becomes available, but that seems unnecessary.

3) What name will he use?

I actually would think it would make the most sense if he continued to be referred to as "Benedict" and "Your Holiness" (after all, the Queen Mum/Dowager continued to be referred to as "Your Majesty" and given all the dignities afforded a Queen). Surely, when he dies, he will be buried as "Benedict XVI" (and given the Novemdiales and all that, I assume, during the reign of the next Pope) so to stop using that name "in the meantime" doesn't make much sense. Though perhaps he should cease to use the regnal number and be called "Benedict, Bishop Emeritus of Rome" or something like that, after the manner of "Diana, Princess of Wales" when the divorce left her no longer Princess (ie, not used as a Title/prefix).

Some news sources were already reporting that he will revert to "Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger," but if he is to change, I think a neat twist as Bishop Emeritus of Rome would still be to refer to him as "Benedict [Cardinal] Ratzinger." If "His Holiness" is refused, then "His Beatitude" like a patriarch might be best, given that emeritus patriarchs continue using that title, or His Eminence again. If he isn't considered to remain a Cardinal, then maybe "Joseph Benedict" after the model of his hero Pope St. Celestine V (Pietro da Morrone) who became known as "Peter Celestine" after his resignation...

4) What will he wear?

I think there should be no problem (to analogize to Queen Dowagers again) in him continuing to wear the white (after all, dead popes wear white in their caskets, and they aren't pope anymore either!) with perhaps the State dress of a Pope (ermine mozzetta, etc) as his choir-dress (assuming he ever attends a public liturgical even, which may not happen; he may lay really low from now on). 

But I expect we'll mainly see him in the simple cassock of priest, given his new "retired" life in the Vatican monastery. Or, he may also revert to the red of a Cardinal for formal occasions (if he does make any such appearances).

Or maybe it would be best to create a new outfit that is a bishop's cassock with a white sash and zucchetto? For choir dress, I'm not sure; maybe the red of a cardinal but then retaining the ermine mozzetta, a white zuchetto or biretta, and a white sash?



Nominally Catholic said...

Black aligator-skin cassock and white ermine...designed especially for Benedict-Ratzinger by Muccia Prada. Gucci for Georg (Benedict-Ratzinger's brother).

Anonymous said...

Now that people live much longer than 50, papal retirement at 80 or 85 might become more common. The monarchs of the Netherlands often retire as they age past a certain point. Pope Benedict is setting a precedent for the papacy which has some basis in European constitutional monarchy.

I do think it appropriate that the new pope establish Pope Benedict as a super-cardinal-bishop. The major archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church might be upset since the UGCC has long been denied a patriarchy. Still, Pope Benedict can't be "un-poped".

I do not see why he cannot wear the simar, or be called "Your Holiness". Pope Benedict should also be allowed the privilege of the papal altar of St. Peter's. However, Pope Benedict cannot claim to be Bishop of Rome, pontifex maximus, or the monarch of the Papal States, of course. But, your comparison with the Queen Mum is apt.

I have another question: will Pope Benedict be buried in the confessio below the papal altar in St. Peter's? I think he will, but only in terms of the years of his reign.

In any event, I'm bummed that PBXVI has sent in his two weeks' notice. He was an awesome defender of orthodoxy and liturgical traditionalism. I'm so hoping that we don't get all happy-clappy, LifeTeen Mass next time.

Anonymous said...


Some of your questions and answers match very closely what has been whirling through my mind, once the shock wore off a little.

Bishop Emeritus (Pontifex Maximus Emeritus even!) sounds about right. I doubt he can revert to cardinal. There is something permanent in the papal state that needs to be acknowledged: have been chosen by Christ as his Vicar, it hardly seems possible that he can revert to anything much less. His Holiness + Benedict, -Pontifex Maximus would seem sensible. His Beatitude would also be fine, although I would prefer something to acknowledge his previous universal primacy... "His Serene Beatitude"?!

On the site it says that he will be living in the monastery "for a period of prayer and reflection" which rather suggests it will not be his permanent home. My money is on his living with his brother Georg as soon as he can manage it, and as soon as they can find somewhere practicable for them to live: security will still need to be a feature of Benedict's life. Who will pay for it?

Let us hope he can pen some more solid theological fare for the masses. And let us accept the next few weeks of secular hatchet jobs on Church and Pope, or just plain misrepresentation, as a fitting penance for Lent.

God bless our Pope.

A Sinner said...

I also think it would be neat, for continuity's sake if the next Pope finished and released the Encyclical on Faith, and the Apostolic Exhortation on the New Evangelization that was supposed to come out of the Synod (Benedict's two major unfinished works, it seems) and then let Benedict cosign them, like:

Given by us this day at Rome, 29th June 2013, the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul,

Pius p.p. XIII
Benedict, bishop emeritus of Rome

They probably won't because they don't want "authority confusion"...but I think that would be a nice gesture.

A Sinner said...

More potential categories!

Anticipated Pope-Elect: a non-bishop validly elected Pope, who has not yet accepted the papacy. He should have the power to arrange and make decisions regarding the ceremonial (including ordinations) surrounding his own accession, even where this deviates from previous liturgical/ceremonial law as in the constitution on papal elections etc. He may choose to wait until after his episcopal ordination for the official ceremony of accepting his election to the papacy, for example.

Anticipated Pope: a bishop validly elected Pope, but who has not yet accepted the papacy (he should immediately accept, but theoretically he has powers similar to the Anticipated Pope-Elect regarding decisions on the ceremonial at that point).

Pope-elect: a non-bishop validly elected Pope who has accepted the election and is merely awaiting episcopal ordination (see the first "Stephen II" and Adrian V). He should be considered to have the full jurisdictional power of the papacy short of infallibility; basically, any powers a pope would be theologically able to delegate to a vicar canonically, he has. He would lack only those un-delegatable powers of a true pope which he would not have until episcopal ordination.