Robbing Peter to Play Paul: The Error or the Mirror of Pope Emeritus?

16 July 2020, Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The following is a full crosspost from Dr. Ed Mazza over at It is more of a research paper than a blog post (5000 words), so I encourage you to spend time with it. My darkened intellect took several readings of some sections to fully grasp the clarity and gravity of the points being driven home. Folks, this is a freight train. There is full annotation; reading all the footnotes really is a must. Some of the links and formatting may not work properly here, so if not, try HERE.

Reminder: Professor Mazza was fired from his job for being actually Catholic. If you can help in any way, please click here:

Podcast coming soon. Happy feast!

Robbing Peter to Play Paul: The Error or the Mirror of Pope Emeritus?

Edmund J. Mazza, PhD

“It was [only] logical to envision that with the cohabitation of ‘two Popes’ in the Vatican, a part of the conservative world disgusted with Francis would have looked to Benedict, considering him the ‘true Pope,’ set against ‘the false prophet…’” So writes the distinguished Church historian, Dr. Roberto de Mattei in a July 1st column[1] in which he accuses a segment of “conservative” Catholics of wishing to substitute the old Pope, Benedict, for the new Pope, Francis:

Benedict by giving himself the title Pope Emeritus, by continuing to wear white and imparting apostolic blessings, has engaged in gestures which seem to encourage this impervious work of substituting the new Pope with the old one. The princeps argumentation is however the distinction between munus and ministerium, whereby it seemed Benedict wanted to keep for himself a sort of mystical papacy, leaving Francis with the exercise of government. The origin of the thesis goes back to a discourse by Monsignor Georg Gänswein of May 20, 2016 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, wherein he stated that Pope Benedict had not abandoned his office, but had given it a new collegial dimension, rendering it a quasi-shared ministry(«als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst»).

De Mattei expresses his fear that “conservative” belief in an “invisible” true pope (Benedict) is the revival of

The thesis of the French visionary Jean de Roquetaillade (1310-1365), whereby shortly before the end times, an “angelic Pope” would appear at the head of an invisible Church, is a myth spread by many pseudo-prophets, but never accepted by the Church. Is this the road that a part of the conservative world is embarking on?[2]

And yet, an “invisible” or “mystic papacy” is not the personal fantasy of a clique of eccentric Catholic bloggers, nor of the Prefect of the Papal Household, it is the repeated public testimony of his master of some decades–Pope “Emeritus” Benedict XVI himself.

In 2017, Last Testament: In His Own Words, was published in which journalist Peter Seewald conducted a lengthy interview with Benedict. At one point, Seewald pointedly asks him: “Is a slowdown in the ability to perform, reason enough to climb down from the chair of Peter?” And Benedict replies:

One can of course make that accusation, but it would be a functional misunderstanding. The follower [successor] of Peter is not merely bound to a function; the office [munus] enters into your very being. In this regard, fulfilling a function is not the only criterion.[3] (Emphasis mine)

What “accusation”? What “misunderstanding”? A simple “yes,” would do.

But Benedict does not give a “yes” or “no” answer to this straightforward question. All the more bizarre, since his answer, in fact, must be a “yes,” or otherwise he is contradicting the very reason he gave for stepping down in his official resignation speech:

I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine office [non iam aptas esse ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum]… strength…has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry [ministerium] entrusted to me. For this reason…I declare that I renounce the ministry [ministerio] of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter[4]

But in his answer to Seewald, Benedict explains that a physical “slow-down” only affects the “functions” or “ministry” of a pope, his day-to-day tasks like any other official. But being Pope, Benedict insists, is not fundamentally about doing this or that, it’s about being. His answer is an ontological one: “the office [munus] enters into your very being,” not the “function” or “ministry,” but the office.

Seewald then observes: “One objection is that the papacy has been secularized by the resignation; that it is no longer a unique office but an office like any other.” Benedict replies:

I had to…consider whether or not functionalism would completely encroach on the papacy …Earlier, bishops were not allowed to resign…a number of bishops…said ‘I am a father and that I’ll stay’, because you can’t simply stop being a father; stopping is a functionalization and secularization, something from the sort of concept of public office that shouldn’t apply to a bishop. To that I must reply: even a father’s role stops. Of course a father does not stop being a father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such… If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function… one comes to understand that the office [munus] of the Pope has lost none of its greatness[5](Emphasis mine)

And in Seewald’s latest interview released in German this past May, Pope Benedict doubles down on his “Petrine” status:

This word “emerito” meant that he was no longer an active bishop but was in the special relationship of a former bishop to his seat…the need was taken to define his office in relation to a real diocese without making him a second bishop of his diocese. The word emerito indicated that he had given up his office in full, but the spiritual connection to his previous seat was now also recognized as a legal quality. If, in general, a titular seat means pure legal fiction, from now on there was a special relationship to a seat that had been a life’s work…It does not create any participation in the concrete legal content of the episcopate, but at the same time sees the spiritual bond as a reality. So there are not two bishops, but there is a spiritual mandate, the essence of which is to serve from the inside, from the Lord, in praying with and for his previous bishopric.[6](Emphasis mine)

Seewald then directly asks His Holiness: “But does that also apply to the pope?”

It is not clear why this legal figure should not be applied to the Bishop of Rome either. [Nota bene: Benedict uses the word “pope” as a synonym for “bishop” of Rome. Literally, it means “papa.”[7]] In this formula, both are given no specific legal power of attorney anymore, but a spiritual assignment that remains – albeit invisible. This legal-spiritual form avoids any thought of a coexistence of two popes: a bishopric can only have one owner. At the same time, a spiritual connection is expressed that cannot be removed under any circumstances.[8](Emphasis mine)

Benedict, then, repeatedly claims that he is not merely an ex-pope, but insists that as “Pope Emeritus” he has a REAL, ONTOLOGICAL, SPIRITUAL connection to the Episcopacy of the See of Rome THAT CANNOT BE REMOVED.[9] Thus, despite the fact that Rome elected a new bishop named Francis in March 2013, this has not stopped Benedict, de Mattei notes, from imparting Apostolic blessings–in his own name–to the faithful.

Indeed, what are the faithful supposed to believe in such a situation?

My own examination of the data led me to the rather daring hypothesis that perhaps Benedict used his plenitudine potestas to separate the role of Vicar of Christ from Bishop of Rome![10]

In point of fact, consistent with his explanations to Seewald, Benedict in his official Declaratio of February 11, 2013, explicitly renounces only “the ministry of Bishop of Rome” and not the munus of Vicar of Christ. (Nota bene: never once in the entire corpus of canon law does the word ministerium substitute for the word munus.) A puzzling fact to be sure, since canon law specifically directs a pontiff to renounce his “munus.” Canon 332 §2 states: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff renounces his office [“munus” in the authoritative Latin], it is required for validity that the renunciation is made freely and be properly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone at all.”

At first, the “Mazza Hypothesis”[11] seemed to some to be too outlandish or even downright heretical! But a cursory examination of the texts of the First Vatican Council (1869-70)[12] as well as multiple manuals of dogmatic theology[13] published just before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) confirm without question that the faithful may, indeed, hold the position that the Primacy of Peter, that is, his Vicarship of Christ, can be separated from the See of Rome; however, this could only be done by a reigning pope and never for light and transient reasons.

Now, it must be admitted, that this is a minority position among the theologians of the past five centuries. The great majority of the Church’s doctors have held that Peter’s (Christ’s Vicar) establishing his Primacy at Rome is of “Divine Right” and thus unalterable. So, let us play Devil’s advocate…

Scenario #1: The Error

“The Vicarship of Christ is indissoluble from the Episcopacy of Rome.” Let us say that this is the case and let us also propose for the sake of argument that in March 2013, Pope Francis became Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Rome. But “His Holiness” Benedict XVI insists that he still has “a spiritual connection…that cannot be removed under any circumstances” from the See of Rome. Indeed, it is the sole reason he continues to wear papal white, issue Apostolic blessings, and reside in the Vatican.

But, if the Vicarship of Christ is indissoluble from the Episcopacy of Rome, and Benedict claims his connection is indissoluble from the Episcopacy of Rome, then either he is the Vicar of Christ–or he is Vicar Emeritus of Christ!

Let us walk through the logic of Scenario #1…methodically.

Benedict insists he is no longer “pope” in the sense of “bishop” of Rome; Francis is. Benedict then, is Bishop Emeritus or Pope Emeritus, but this does not mean he has left “the enclosure of St. Peter.” No, a real, metaphysical, spiritual “connection” exists between him and his “former” diocese. If true, however, Benedict MUST possess not only a real, metaphysical, spiritual “connection” with the Episcopacy of the See of Rome–but with the Vicarship of Christ, since again, we are laboring under the assumption that such a Vicarship is inseparable from the See of Rome. This means Benedict cannot be Pope Emeritus of the Diocese of Rome without simultaneously being Vicar Emeritus of Christ.

Vicar Emeritus of Christ? What on earth is that supposed to be?

Our Lord and Savior turned His Apostle Simon into the “Rock,” “Peter” on which He built His Church. He gave the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter so that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:16-19). Christ the King thus makes Peter (and his successors) his Vicar or Steward, one who shepherds the flock in place of Christ until He comes again. While the location of Peter’s Vicaring changed throughout his life,[14] what CANNOT change according to Catholic teaching is that ONE man and ONE man alone is “personally responsible” for Christ’s flock or has the “total power of the keys over the Universal Church.”

What then of Vicar Emeritus? A hypothetical Vicar Emeritus of Christ would be a man who, though not the current Vicar of Christ, still had a real, metaphysical, spiritual participation in Peter’s Vicaring or Pastoring over the universal Church.

But this would mean that the current Vicar of Christ would not have total power over the Church and this is a substantial theological error. As Msgr. G. Van Noort says:

For if the plenitude of sacred power were to reside in [more than one]…in such a fashion that the [current] pope had more power than [the other]…he would still possess only the largest share of that power; but he would not strictly possess the total power without any restriction. In that hypothesis, the power of the Roman pontiff could still be called “supreme,”[15] but it would not be absolutely complete in itself. It is true that in the aforesaid hypothesis no individual… would have power equal to the pope but the power of the pontiff would not be absolutely complete in itself.[16]

To deny that the Primacy of the Vicar of Christ is restricted to one man is a proposition that has been historically condemned. In 1645, during the height of the errors of Jansenism, an anonymous pamphlet, De Auctoritate S. Petri et S. Pauli (possibly by an author named Arnauld) along with two other works began to circulate widely, claiming that St. Paul shared the Primacy with St. Peter:

It got to the point that Innocent X, by a decree of the Holy Inquisition in 1647 proscribed both the three aforementioned pamphlets, and also the proposition that Peter and Paul are the two heads of the Church, who form a singular thing, in the meaning understood that they posit every sort of equality between Peter and Paul without the subordination and subjugation of Paul to Peter in the supreme [total] power and governance of the universal Church.[17]

Catholics must hold that St. Paul acted as an auxiliary bishop of Rome, or by means of his own Apostolic authority, but only with permission from Rome’s only bishop and Christ’s only Vicar: St. Peter. To say as Gänswein, his office had a “collegial dimension, rendering it a quasi-shared ministry” is error!

If the Primacy or Vicarship of Christ cannot be shared by two, then there can be no Vicar Emeritus of Christ. But if there can be no Vicar Emeritus of Christ, there can be no Pope/Bishop Emeritus of Rome, because Vicar of Christ is inseparable from Pope/Bishop of Rome.

So, under Scenario #1, Pope Benedict’s resignation was made out of “substantial error,” even if his Declaratio seems valid enough on its face. Benedict, as the saying goes, thought he could have his cake–and eat it too! He thought he could give up the active governance of the Roman Church and yet remain within a spiritual mandate that is uniquely Peter’s own.[18] According to canon law, Benedict’s resignation was, therefore, rendered ipso facto invalid. Canon 188 states: “A resignation made out of grave fear, that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.”[19] This would mean Benedict remains the only Vicar of Christ and only Pope/Bishop of Rome. (To those who say only the wording of his Declaratio matters, therefore, he is not still pope, I would reply, as an expert confided to this author: “error must be in the mind, not in the words either written or spoken, because if it were just in the words it would affect the declaration of his will, not his will itself.”

That being said, “we are to infer the mental picture and intention of the author, first and foremost, from the words he chose.” So, the Declaratio is still front and center. But, as we have seen, the most important words: “office/munus,” “Vicar of Christ/Primacy” are conspicuous for having NOT BEEN CHOSEN. This, coupled with Benedict’s statements during the month of February when as Vicar of Christ he crafted the office of Pope Emeritus–not to mention the multiple Seewald interviews and infamous Gänswein speech in the years since then–leave no room for doubt that Benedict intended to remain PAPAL on some ONTOLOGICAL plane, regardless of whether this is really metaphysically possible or not. Benedict tells Seewald: “I was well aware that the situation of Celestine V [last man to voluntarily resign the papacy entirely] was unique and could not serve as a model [for his own action] in any way.”[20]

Benedict’s error, of course, would also invalidate the election of Jorge Bergoglio. But when “certain conservatives” in strict adherence to the rules of canon law, point this out, de Mattei raises the specter of schism. Space does not allow a proper rebuttal, a brief quote Fr. E. Sylvester Berry will have to suffice for now: “When there is a prudent doubt about the validity of an election to any official position…no one is bound to obey him, for it is an axiom that a doubtful law begets no obligation.”[21]

Indeed, Berry quotes no less an authority than St. Robert Bellarmine that in the case of multiple dubious claimants to the Chair of Peter, wherein a claimant refuses to resign, the bishops “can and ought to decide who is the legitimate pope” as at the Council of Constance (1414-1418).

Then there is Scenario #2: The Mirror

Let us suppose that Pope Benedict intended to separate the Vicarship of Christ from the Episcopacy of Rome and that it IS ontologically possible to do so. In this case, Benedict would be Pope/Bishop Emeritus of Rome. Having severed Vicar of Christ from the Episcopacy of Rome, there would no longer be any metaphysical impediment to a “Pope/Bishop Emeritus” of Rome. More importantly, Benedict would still be Vicar of Christ. Lastly, Francis would be the one duly elected Pope/Bishop of Rome. De Mattei, in fact, provides us with Gänswein’s honest affirmation of such in 2019: “there is only one Pope legitimately elected–and it is Francis.” But he would never have been Vicar of Christ because Benedict would have retained it even while he jettisoned his active governance of the See of Rome, which he bequeathed to its new bishop. Is it so preposterous to posit Francis as having only the Episcopacy of Rome, but lacking the Vicarship of Christ? His first speech from the balcony referred exclusively to his role as Shepherd of the “Urbi“–not the “Orbi.”[22] Perhaps it is not without typological significance after all that Bergoglio possesses only one lung and not the usual pair!

In conclusion, this author can see no other way for a Pope Emeritus (as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has thus far defined and lived it) to exist in harmony with orthodox Catholic teaching without the prior separation of Vicar of Christ from Bishop of Rome, leaving in its wake two distinct elements, held by two different men.

Now critics, of course, will cry: Far-fetched speculation! Conspiracy theory! Ad hominem labels: the last resort of those without arguments.

Can we forget that the children of Fatima saw “‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’…”? (Emphasis mine)

Mirrors produce two where formerly there was one.

And since the subject has arisen, if only the full text of the Third Secret of Fatima would finally be released, it would put an end to all speculation and theorizing. Our Lady, herself, would provide just the answers which we devout laypersons informed by Tradition are seeking about the Papacy and the Church in the face of unprecedented apostasy.

We, “the rest of her seed” (Rev. 12:17), are dedicated to seeking out the Truth about God and His Church,[23] for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. We do not claim to have all the answers. We would more than welcome some enlightenment from genuine shepherds. “But a stranger they will not follow, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers” (Jn. 10:5).

Benedict, who has read the Third Secret, has said that he has written a spiritual last testament. This author hopes His Holiness will shine the “light of faith’s clarity” and dispel the shadows of “ambiguity” which Benedict previously assured us, are always “the hallmark of the devil.”[24] “She shall crush [his]…head” (Gen. 3:15). “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

[1] Roberto de Mattei, “The Unknowns at the End of a Pontificate,” Rorate Caeli Blog, July 1, 2020.
In the original Italian at Corrispondenza Romana Blog, July 1, 2020

[2] Ibid.

[3] Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI, Last Testament: In His Own Words, (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2017).

[4] Pope Benedict XVI “Declaratio,” February 11, 2013.

[5] Seewald, Last Testament. Benedict claims he “remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on.” This is a crucial phrase for deciphering his ontological status because previously he wrote:

Yet this attachment to the Word and will of God because of the Lord is what makes the sedes a cross and thus proves the Vicar to be a representative. He abides in obedience and thus in personal responsibility for Christ; professing the Lord’s death and Resurrection is his whole commission and personal responsibility, in which the common profession of the Church is depicted as personally ”binding” through the one who is bound… This personal liability, which forms the heart of the doctrine of papal primacy, is therefore not opposed to the theology of the Cross or contrary to humilitas christiana but rather follows from it…(Emphasis mine)
— October 1977, during the symposium “On the Nature and Commission of the Petrine Ministry” marking the 80th birthday of Pope Paul VI; Cf. “The Primacy of the Pope and the unity of the People of God,” published as “Der Primat des Papstes und die Einheit des Gottesvolkes” in a book Ratzinger edited, Dienst an der Einheit (Service to Unity); it has also been republished in books by Ignatius Press and in Communio Spring 2014.

[6] Seewald, Benedikt XVI.: Ein Leben, “Letzte Fragen an Benedikt XVI,” (Droemer, 2020). My algorithmic translation, courtesy Google Translate.


[8] Benedict sees Pope Emeritus as an office: “the office enters into your very being” Last Testament: In His Own Words; “the need was taken to define his office in relation to a real diocese without making him a second bishop of his diocese.” Benedict XVI: Ein Leben. It is crucial to recall that Benedict created and discussed the Office of Pope Emeritus before he actually “left” the Chair of Peter. Should we not, therefore, consider this teaching magisterial? Don’t the normal modes of obedience apply? Cf. Last General Audience, February 27, 2013:

[9] Many writers have dismissed Pope Benedict’s explanation of his ontological status as the mere whimsical musings of a former pope. In truth, Benedict is–at the very least–a current bishop of the Holy Roman Catholic Church who is repeatedly teaching error regarding the ontological nature of the papacy. If his critics are correct that he lacks any metaphysical standing within the Episcopacy of Rome, then he is not a harmless ex-pope always waxing nostalgic about his closeness to his former See, he is an errant bishop who needs to be corrected in charity and justice for distorting Catholic teaching. Instead, critics treat His Holiness like some crazy-old-codger, out of touch with theological reality, still calling himself His Holiness, still wandering the Vatican Gardens wearing white… This is neither charitable nor just. Either challenge his teaching as erroneous or take him at his word!
Furthermore, the ostensible current Vicar of Christ/Bishop of Rome IS ALSO teaching error regarding the nature of the Office:

I think that a Pope emeritus should not be an exception; after so many centuries, this is our first Pope emeritus. As he put it: “I’ve grown old, I don’t have the strength”. It was a fine gesture, noble yet also humble and courageous. My thinking is that seventy years ago bishops emeritus were an exception; they didn’t exist. Today bishops emeritus are an institution. I think that a “Pope emeritus” has already become an institution. Why? Because our span of life increases and at a certain age we no longer have the ability to govern well because our body is weary; our health may be good but we don’t have the ability to deal with all the problems of a government like that of the Church. I believe that Pope Benedict XVI took this step which de facto instituted Popes emeriti. I repeat, perhaps some theologian will tell you that it isn’t right, but that’s what I think. Time will tell if it is right or wrong, we shall see. You can ask me: “What if one day you don’t feel prepared to go on?” I would do the same, I would do the same! I will pray hard over it, but I would do the same thing. [Benedict] opened a door which is institutional, not exceptional. (Emphasis mine)

–Press conference, August 18, 2014 on board the plane returning to Italy after his trip to South Korea.

[10] “Pope Emeritus Enigma: An Explanation At Last,”


[12] “It is to be noted that these opinions are reduced to three. The first one holds that Peter, by a command of Christ, joined the Primacy to the Roman See; therefore it concludes that not even the Roman Pontiff could separate the Primacy from the Roman Episcopacy: this is the opinion of Cajetan, Melchior Cano, Gregory de Valencia and other important theologians.

The second opinion holds that the Primacy is annexed to the Roman See by ecclesiastical law; hence it concludes that, for just reasons, one can be separated from the other by the Supreme Pontiff; Soto, Banez and others hold this view.

The third opinion, finally, is that of those who hold that the Roman Pontiff succeeds Peter, regarding the Primacy by divine law, regarding the Roman See by ecclesiastical law; but because Peter himself at the same time exercised the Primacy together with the Roman Episcopate, he joined one to the other in such a way that both the Roman Episcopacy and the Headship of the whole Church are one and the same thing…and so the Roman Episcopate must be had only as a condition for succession by divine law in the Primacy; from this fact of Peter they infer that the Primacy and the Roman Episcopacy have become absolutely inseparable…” Mansi, 52,1268.1307

Mansi is the abbreviation for Archbishop John Dominic Mansi’s (1692-1769) work, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova amplissima collectio, which was continued up until 1927. These 53 volumes (in Latin) contain not only the official canons and decrees of the Church’s ecumenical councils, but all the pertinent texts from the councils.

[13] Joachim Salaverri, S.J. Michaele Nicolau, S.J. Kenneth Baker, S.J. (Translator), Sacrae Theologiae Summa IB: On the Church of Christ/On Holy Scripture (BAC, 1956; Keep the Faith, 2015), 168-170. Originally published in Latin by the bishops of Spain. Msgr. G. Van Noort, S.T.D, Translated and Revised by John J. Castelot, S.T.D and Willaim R. Murphy, S.T.D. Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, Christ’s Church (Newman Press, 1955), 273-276. E. Sylvester Berry, S.T.D, The Church of Christ: A Dogmatic and Apologetic Treatise, (Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, 1955), 402-404.

[14] At first, St. Peter did his shepherding in Jerusalem. Later, tradition holds he did it in Antioch (and in a sense at Alexandria by sending his personal companion St. Mark). Ultimately, he was bishop of the Christians in Rome where he was crucified upside down under Emperor Nero. But while the Episcopacy of Peter could change before he went to Rome, in the scenario we are working under, the hypothesis is that it cannot change again.

[15] Critics of the notion that Benedict renounced the Bishop of Rome, but kept the Primacy of the Vicar of Christ point to his Declaratio wherein he states: “I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.” (Emphasis mine)

They claim that “Supreme Pontiff” == “Vicar of Christ.” But as Msgr. Van Noort explained, hypothetically at least, a pope/bishop of Rome could still be called “supreme” and yet NOT have total power, i.e. Primacy/Vicarship.

[16] Msgr. G. Van Noort, S.T.D., Translated and Revised by John J. Castelot, S.T.D and Willaim R. Murphy, S.T.D. Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, Christ’s Church (Newman Press, 1955), 281-282.

[17] Henry Soames, The Latin Church During Anglo-Saxon Times, (Longman, 1848), 174, Nt. 1.

[18] “Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision [to accept becoming Peter] was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always — anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church… The “always” is also a “for ever” — My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.” February 27, 2013


[20] Benedikt XVI.: Ein Leben

[21] Berry, 402.

[22] “You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the Earth to get him…but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome…And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome…My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar [of Rome], be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.” First remarks of Francis (sans mozzetta and stole) from the balcony, March 13, 2013. Not once does he refer to himself as Vicar of Christ–or even “Pope”!

[23] Canon 748 §1. “All persons are bound to seek the truth in those things which regard God and his Church and by Divine Law are bound by the obligation…of embracing and observing the truth which they have come to know.”

[24] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report, (Ignatius Press, 1985), 150.

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