Skip to comments.Some distinctly non-canonical musings on the status of an ex-pope
Posted on 02/27/2013 11:16:20 AM PST by NYer
Aside from the resignation itselfthe canonical legality of which is incontestablePope Benedicts startling decision to leave office has occasioned much confusion in Rome and around the Catholic world. The simple fact is that the Catholic Church, at every level, has virtually no experience in dealing with ex-popes.
Beyond the barest of canonical points (c. 332 § 2), almost everything about Benedicts futurehis status under law (canonical and international), title(s), appropriate dress, relations with peers (assuming he has any), and so on and so on and so onmust be fashioned practically from scratch. One should not assume that any announcements being made about Benedicts future are based on the authority of some arcane-but-accessible protocol tome for dealing with ex-popes, because there is no such tome. Were making most of this up as we go.
We Catholics like order. We like knowing what the rules are (even Catholics who dont like the rules still like knowing what the rules are, so they have a target for their ire); we like thinking that at least those in charge know what all the rules are, even if we dont know and even if they are charmingly or irritatingly inept at announcing them.
Now, by and large, that Catholic nomian attitude is soundthe Church does have rules, Church leaders generally know what those rules are, and for the most part, other folks can find out what those rules are and impress still others with their discoveries.
But not this time. The rules say only, we can have an ex-pope. Period.
Historys not much help either. Setting aside some first millennium episodes that are almost too bizarre for words, the last pope to resign (Gregory XII) had been elected and tried to govern under conditions that would shock the conscience today. The only other pope to resign (Celestine V) was promptly arrested and died in prison. None of this is remotely useful for predicting Benedicts future.
But thats my point: if law says next to nothing about the status of an ex-pope, and if history teaches us little of value in regard to dealing with an ex-pope, then, pretty much everything about an ex-pope, right down to the color of his shoes, needs to be worked out, and likely enough, will need to be re-worked at least a couple of times till we get it right. Ish.
As the chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times!” You, dear friends, are experiencing history in the making!
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I think this is pretty simple - even for a Catholic. :)
He will become, in effect though not title, a retired priest living in a monastery at the Vatican. He’s indicated his primary “duty” will be prayer.
Anything further will be unofficial and determined by his and other’s wishes.
That’s the way I see it anyway, FWIW.
Personally, I wish him a long life and hope his influence continues. If he wishes, I’d like him to write more also.
I miss him already.
An excellent summation. I join my prayers and best wishes with yours. May his new commitment to prayer for the Church, rise like incense to the throne of our Lord. It takes great humility to make this decision. I also pray that his brother will be able to spend time with him at the monastery.
I’d forgotten about his brother; that could be great comfort for them both.
I too respect his decision, and we do truly live in interesting times.
John Paul II choose to continue to the end, and, as a rapidly aging senior myself, he inspired me greatly.
Pope Benedict XVI gave up his position to better serve the Church and so that the Church would be better served. A model of humility.
These are wise and deeply spiritual men. Though their choices were not the same, both increased my faith and devotion to the Church of God.
We have a good home in this dangerous time; I hope I can show a fraction of a percent of their devotion to Christ in the time I have left here.
thanks for your post and reply.