A Pope by Any Other Name…

Pope Benedictus XVI

Benedict XVI resigns tomorrow and starts his new life as an ex-pope. The question of what to do with a former pope has proven to be a thorny one for some of the folks at the Vatican. The question provokes me to alter a bit of Shakespeare.

O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a Pope
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Benedict would, were he not Benedict call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.

Originally, the Church wasn’t sure what they’d call Benedict after the resignation. Some speculated that he’d have to give up the name Benedict and that his official title would be “emeritus bishop of Rome.” Benedict himself, however, decided that he’d continue with the name Benedict and that he would be referred to as “emeritus pope” or “emeritus Roman pontiff.” Curiously, he seems to have given up the “bishop of Rome” title completely. When you run into him, you should continue to address him as “Your Holiness.” In the Vatican, a rose will continue to be called a “rose.”

Not only will the rose’s name not change, neither will its petals. Originally, the Vatican suggested that Benedict would give up his white robes for the black robes of a priest, but the latest word is that Benedict will continue to don the white. I suppose this might be a cost saving decision. Why buy a whole new wardrobe? However, Benedict will change his costume a bit to reflect his retirement. He’ll give up his trademark red shoes in favor of plain brown ones. Still a rose, but no longer in full bloom, I suppose.

I think Benedict will be gracious in retirement, allowing the new pope room to be the pope. But it could be awkward for the new guy having Benedict still hanging around. It’s not the kind of thing a pope usually has to worry about. Benedict will continue to live at the Vatican, and his private apartment will have a view of St. Peter’s. His personal secretary will pull double duty, serving both Benedict and his successor. I hope, however, the pope and emeritus pope will each let the other enjoy his new position.

4 responses

    • “What’s in a name? that which we call a Pope
      By any other name would as often tweet.”

      I suppose Benedict will give up twitter along with the red shoes. He’s supposed to be retiring to meditate and pray. But I suppose he could tweet some prayers every now and then.

  1. Such are the fruits of acaucrte catechesis, including edifying liturgy, in those countries which have them, and which alone, apart from islands of the same elsewhere, are experiencing this abundance. Truly the Spirit of Vatican II.However, following on from some other comments, after a day including both Eucharistic Adoration and the Stations of the Cross, how I feel for my brethren in Ukraine who desire to retain both of those devotions, as well as the Holy Rosary.Apparently, these three forms of spirituality, all very long-established among Ukrainians, are Latin , with no part in a Byzantine Rite Catholic Church whose self-prostration to the Orthodox (who occupied her churches during the Soviet period) does not preclude very good relations with Buddhists and Hare Krishnas.Photian Monopatrism, and denial of the Petrine Office even in principle? Fine. Nirvana? Great. Bhakti? Marvellous. But Eucharistic Adoration, or the Stations of the Cross, or the Holy Rosary? Any of that carry on and you are looking at having to send your young men to Warsaw to be ordained (in the Latin Rite, of course) by none other than Richard Williamson, with the inevitable excommunications to follow.There is never any excuse for schism.But the wound is not felt only on one side.

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