Pro Unione

Home » Church and World » Very brief thought on popes emeritii

Very brief thought on popes emeritii

[Found in the archives of half-written posts, from shortly after the election of Pope Francis, the third anniversary of which we have just celebrated]

When your pastor retires, he is not called Father Emeritus John Smith.
Rather, Father John, Pastor emeritus of St. Whatshisname Parish.

When your bishop retires, he is not called Bishop Emeritus Sean Patrick Murphy.
Rather, His Excellency, Bishop Sean, Bishop emeritus of Brigadoon.
Or, His Eminence, Cardinal Sean, Bishop emeritus of Brigadoon
(if also has a Roman suburbicarian see, titulus, or diaconiae).

When the pope retires, he ought not be called Pope Emeritus Benedict.
Rather, His Holiness, Pope Benedict, Bishop emeritus of Rome.

This seemed to be clear, we may recall, when suddenly it was not.
But then it was, at least to the new pope.

From such a good ecclesiologist as Ratzinger, the style Pope Emeritus always struck a discordant note. He knows better than most that there is no office of pope, and therefore no emeritus pope, only the office of bishop of Rome to which the style of “pope” adheres. (Like the priest who is styled “father”).

Roman Pontiff emeritus, also offered in the official statement, never really took off, either (can’t imagine why…).

Turns out, it apparently was not his idea, and he would have been happy with “Father Benedict” (or Pope Benedict, since “pope” just means “father” anyway), as a style. This also recalls and reminds us of the practice that all clergy – bishop, deacon, presbyter – can be addressed as “Father”, not only the presbyterate.

That would have made a lot more sense: Father Benedict, Bishop emeritus of Rome.

The cross of Pope Benedict XVI

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: