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Darrel Manson

Habemus Papam! Pope Francis of Argentina (Was Benedict to resign)

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Of course, in a sense, it's largely a moot point, since Benedict's goal will be to vanish from the public eye, to a monastery in Vatican City. He won't be writing any more books, doing any interviews, or making any public appearances. So, generally speaking, people won't address him as anything.

I wonder how many offers he's had to write the first out of office memoir of a Pope. Bet he could get a big advance.

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One of my friends wrote this on his facebook wall.

The Vatican says that the Cardinals will pick the next Pope. If it's anything like how they pick quarterbacks, this is gonna be a disaster.

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Honest question: Will Benedict still be considered infallible after he retires, or does that only apply to the office and not the person?

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Tyler wrote:

: Honest question: Will Benedict still be considered infallible after he retires, or does that only apply to the office and not the person?

I believe it applies only when the Pope speaks "ex cathedra", i.e. "from the chair", or the throne. So yeah, you could say it's the office and not the person that is considered infallible.

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Honest question: Will Benedict still be considered infallible after he retires, or does that only apply to the office and not the person?

It doesn't even apply to the office. It applies to one very specific area of the office: matters of faith and morals when taught, as Peter said, ex cathedra (from the chair of St. Peter, to whom Christ promised the Holy Spirit to guide him and his successors) i.e., A personal statement by any pope in a conversation is not ex cathedra and therefore not infallible. (That's not to say the pope would be wrong or right, but the statement would not be marked with Christ's promise of infallibility.)

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 891:

The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful...he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.

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Pope Benedict retired after inquiry into 'Vatican gay officials', says paper

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

The pope's spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called "Vatileaks" affair. . . .

Guardian, February 21

When a Pope Retires, Is He Still Infallible?

Before his decision, Benedict might have been remembered as a passive pope, a theologian who helped shape the doctrine of his beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, but whose own reign was marred by scandal. In stepping down, scholars say, his last act became his most revolutionary, making history and perhaps opening the door to a new era.

“The mere fact that he’s resigning has permanently changed the nature of the papacy,” said Eamon Duffy, a historian of Christianity at Cambridge University. “He’s thought the unthinkable, done the undoable. He’s broken a taboo that had last 600 years, the last 150 of which presented the pope as a religious icon, the emblem of Jesus Christ, not the leader of a global church.”

Rowan Williams, a theologian who was archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 until 2012 and is now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, said that Benedict’s resignation meant that “the pope is not like a sort of God-king who goes on to the very end.”

It was a statement that “the ministry of service that the bishop of Rome exercises is just that, a ministry of service and it’s therefore reasonable to ask if there is a moment when somebody else should take that baton in hand,” he told Vatican Radio, adding that the pope had made the role “slightly more functional, slightly less theologically top-heavy.” . . .

New York Times, February 18

The Papal Abdication

In 1294, Peter of Morrone—San Celestino, little St. Celestine, as popular devotion calls him—was elected pope of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Spirit moves where it will; perhaps a shy, ascetic monk was necessary at that moment, to remind the church of its truest calling. The college of cardinals thought so, at least, desperate after two years of failing to choose a successor to Nicholas IV.

Still, no one should have been surprised that a man who had previously lived as a hermit in a cave in Abruzzi would prove one of the least competent administrators the world has ever seen. He never actually made it to Rome, ruling—if the word is allowed a certain looseness—from Naples and attempting such governance practices as disappearing for the whole of Advent to fast and pray. After five months and eight days in office, the saint had simply had enough. Citing his desire for a purer life, his physical weakness, his ignorance, the perverseness of those around him, and a longing for tranquillity, he issued a papal decree that popes had the authority to leave their office, and then took advantage of his decree to resign the papacy and flee to a monastic retreat in the forest.

Where he was promptly arrested by his successor and imprisoned till his death: a chess piece no one wanted but no one could allow to roam free in the complicated game of thrones that was European politics. A certain cynical wisdom lay behind the previous ban on resignations. It took a saint to brush all that aside—the political cynicism, perhaps rightly; the political wisdom, less so—and bad things followed. Pope Celestine V was intelligent enough to see the reasons that he should abandon the papacy, but he wasn’t quite wise enough to see the reasons he shouldn’t. . . .

Perhaps no one could have done better than Benedict has with the looming problems that John Paul II managed to keep temporarily in the wings during the grand drama that was his pontificate. Still, the fact remains that Benedict has not done well with them—and perhaps mostly because he was never a good administrator. He was always a serious and absorbed theologian, and his advanced age is not the cause of his incapacity.

And yet, John Paul II also reminded us that running the Vatican isn’t the sole or even the most important job of the pope. Being a teacher, a living example of holiness, remains at the center. “I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering,” Benedict writes, but his resignation takes from the world stage that picture of a whole life, a rounded image of human existence with a shape and a goal.

After this, how will any of his successors feel able to do what John Paul II did, failing physically in the full view of the public—preaching one last homily with his death? Benedict speaks of the unique pressures of “today’s world,” which he insists require a younger man’s strength of mind and body. But today’s world is unique only because we say it is. Human life remains as it was, our aging and our deaths what they always were.

In other words, the modern world doesn’t really need to see in the pope a model of competent administration, nice as that would be. It does need, however, a public reminder that we are not incapacitated as human beings when we age and prepare to die. We are not to be tucked away or compelled by moral pressure to remove our lives and deaths from public view. The older vision of life is the more complete one, and in today’s world, perhaps uniquely, we are in special need of remembering that.

Besides, there remains the problem of political theory that the aftermath of San Celestino’s abdication taught us. If popes can resign, then popes can be forced to resign, notwithstanding the fact that the church believes they are chosen with guidance from the Holy Spirit. And after they resign, what then? What are we to do with them? The sheer presence of a retired pope in a Vatican monastery may prove a burden and distraction for his successor. And if, with Benedict in 2013, a retired pope does not seem to pose a direct political threat, that hardly insures that no future retired pope will prove so. The political portions are part of the pope’s job, too.

That’s something, one suspects, that the ascetic monk Peter of Morrone didn’t grasp while serving as Pope Celestine V, saint though he was. It’s something that Joseph Ratzinger seems to have ignored as Pope Benedict XVI, saint though he too may be.

Joseph Bottum, Weekly Standard, February 25

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Papal humor by Lutherans! This is awesome.

Lutherans apparently have to work on their animation/sound editing skills. The jokes are almost overpowered by those robot voices.

I haven't been able to understand half the news coverage about this story, but I have appreciated this (hat-tip to Kathryn Jean Lopez):

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J.A.A. Purves wrote:

: Lutherans apparently have to work on their animation/sound editing skills. The jokes are almost overpowered by those robot voices.

That's just a common internet thing: you write a dialogue and then get automated animation software to set it to video, or something like that.

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A question of form: when he steps down will he continue to be Benedict or go back to being Joseph Ratzinger?

Heard on the radio today that a Vatican spokesman said he will still be His Holiness Benedict XVI, and will be Pope Emeritus or Pontiff Emeritus. Link to Vatican news story

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A question of form: when he steps down will he continue to be Benedict or go back to being Joseph Ratzinger?

Heard on the radio today that a Vatican spokesman said he will still be His Holiness Benedict XVI, and will be Pope Emeritus or Pontiff Emeritus. Link to Vatican news story

This was all over Catholic news yesterday morning. "Pontiff emeritus" is fine, as is "bishop emeritus of Rome," but I don't like "pope emeritus." There is no such thing as papa emeritus. Once a papa, always a papa. A retired priest may be pastor emeritus; he can't be "Father emeritus."

Edited by SDG

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Actually, I may suggest to my grandson that I be called papa emeritus.

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I wonder if any of the Popes of Alexandria (the patriarchs of Alexandria were called "Pope" before the patriarchs of Rome were) have resigned... and, if so, how they have handled the post-resignation title...

Hmmm, per Wikipedia:

The word
pope
derives from the
πάππας, meaning "Father". In the early centuries of Christianity, this title was applied (especially in the east) to all bishops and other senior clergy. In the west it began to be used particularly for the Bishop of Rome (rather than for bishops in general) in the sixth century; in 1075,
issued a declaration widely interpreted as stating this by-then-established convention. By the sixth century, this was also the normal practice in the imperial chancery of Constantinople.

The earliest record of this title was regarding
(232–248) in a letter written by his successor,
, to Philemon (a Roman
) . . .

Not sure about resignations etc., though. Seems like there were a lot of power struggles in the first few centuries, though.

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Interesting. When I followed the links on that Wikipedia page it not only sent me to the website for the Coptic Pope, but also a website for a Greek Orthodox Pope. I know of the Coptic Pope, but I hadn't realized that the Greek Orthodox had a Bishop whom they considered a Pope.

I also knew that the Ethiopian Orthodox have/had what they considered a pope. I wonder if the same is true for the head Bishop of the Syrian branch of Christianity.

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And it's official, now. For over an hour, the Catholic Church has been in sede vacante (or interregum). Non habemus papam.

Actually, I may suggest to my grandson that I be called papa emeritus.

And your sons would call you what? Darrel?

I know of the Coptic Pope, but I hadn't realized that the Greek Orthodox had a Bishop whom they considered a Pope.

I also knew that the Ethiopian Orthodox have/had what they considered a pope. I wonder if the same is true for the head Bishop of the Syrian branch of Christianity.

In case there's any possible confusion, these Eastern popes are not understood in their own communions to be in any way what the Roman Pontiff is understood in Catholic Christianity to be, i.e., a universal pontiff. They are not believed to have universal pastoral authority or responsibility; they are each a first among equals, not by divine institution, but only by human convention. In principle, their claims aren't contradictory; there's nothing to stop two different bishops of prestigious sees from both being called popes in this sense. In fact, the Catholic Church has no problem calling them popes, as she obviously would a claim to be a pope in the sense that the bishop of Rome (whomever he may be) is pope.

Edited by SDG

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I wanted to go back and post the items below in the old "Habemus Papam!" thread (and change the heading to "Non Habemus Papam," for now), but it's in the archived Religion forum. (If Darrel has no objection, I may retitle this thread "Non Habemus Papam," and change it again when a new pope is elected.)

Excellent tribute to Pope Benedict XVI from Mark Shea.

Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered for many things: the renewal of the liturgy, his enthusiastic support for the extraordinary form of the Mass, his gentle simplicity, his eager willingness to engage a huge spectrum of postmodernity ranging from atheism, to non-Abrahamic religions, to Islam to Judaism to a wide range of thinkers within non-Catholic traditions and dissenting Catholic schools of thought. His deep conviction was that the Catholic faith is a profoundly rational faith since the Word — the very reason of God made flesh — is at the heart of things.

Front-page Washington Times piece by our own Victor Morton, offering a very good, balanced assessment of Benedict's papacy in light of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Despite lacking the public charisma of his predecessor, in fields ranging from the liturgy, ecumenical relations and theology to the handling of sex-abuse cases and other scandals that hit the church in recent years, Benedict in just eight years was able to carve out his own legacy, in significant part by continuing John Paul’s work in different ways.

Benedict “was John Paul’s right-hand man for 24 years” as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s chief orthodoxy overseer, said Monsignor Paul McPartlan, professor of systematic theology and ecumenism at Catholic University. “There’s a big difference in style and personality, but in terms of core commitments there’s a profound continuity between the two.”

Said Kurt Martens, associate professor of canon law at Catholic University, “Pope Benedict is the man you have to read. John Paul II was the one you had to see.”

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SDG wrote:

: They are not believed to have universal pastoral authority or responsibility; they are each a first among equals . . .

Not sure what you mean by this. In Eastern Orthodoxy (which includes the Greeks), the Bishop of Rome was "first among equals" until the schism, and now that honour goes to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. Unless you mean that the Pope of Alexandria is "first among equals" within his patriarchate, though I don't think that's how patriarchates work.

: In principle, their claims aren't contradictory; there's nothing to stop two different bishops of prestigious sees from both being called popes in this sense. In fact, the Catholic Church has no problem calling them popes, as she obviously would a claim to be a pope in the sense that the bishop of Rome (whomever he may be) is pope.

So it is by human convention, not divine institution, that the word "pope" has gravitated almost exclusively towards the bishop of Rome in western parlance?

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: They are not believed to have universal pastoral authority or responsibility; they are each a first among equals . . .

Not sure what you mean by this. In Eastern Orthodoxy (which includes the Greeks), the Bishop of Rome was "first among equals" until the schism, and now that honour goes to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. Unless you mean that the Pope of Alexandria is "first among equals" within his patriarchate, though I don't think that's how patriarchates work.

Or how the term "first among equals" has historically been used, anyway. It looks like the Coptic pope of Alexandria lays claim to the rank of "first among equals," but of course there's only one of him in the Coptic communion. I can't see that the Greek Orthodox pope of Alexandria uses that term, though -- and the Patriarch of Constantinople, who does claim to be a first among equals, doesn't call himself "pope."

So the two usages are separate, overlapping only in the pope of Rome and the Coptic pope of Alexandria. Perhaps I should have said "special eminence" or something of the sort.

So it is by human convention, not divine institution, that the word "pope" has gravitated almost exclusively towards the bishop of Rome in western parlance?

Yes. But in his case that term of human convention is widely used, in part, to invoke a reality that we believe is of divine institution, i.e., the Petrine ministry. Even so, that doesn't prevent us from using the same term of human convention of other popes who don't have the Petrine ministry.

Edited by SDG

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SDG said:

:In case there's any possible confusion, these Eastern popes are not understood in their own communions to be in any way what the Roman Pontiff is understood in Catholic Christianity to be, i.e., a universal pontiff.

Yep. I understood this. Of course it should go without saying that this isn't how the various Orthodox branches of Christianity, including the Coptic and the Ethiopian understand the Pope, as hinted at in Peter's quote from Wikipedia.

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The conclave is scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 12.

Saint Peter, ora pro nobis.

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