Emeritus popes should return to college of cardinals

Hubert Wolf, Professor of Church History at the University of Münster, is calling for a clearer distinction between “pope” and “pope emeritus”.

According to Wolf, there are fears that “around Francis and Benedict XVI two competing power centres could come into being in the curia, with pope and antipope at the top of each.”

The comments reported by Kathweb, came in Friday’s edition of “Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung“.

Citing historical precedence, Wolf says that when Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, he traded his white papal clothing for cardinal purple and again became a member of the college of cardinals.

Wolf says the former Pope Gregory was no longer addressed as “Your Holiness” but as “Your Eminence”, like other cardinals.

The professor suggests the title “cardinal bishop emeritus” is more appropriate than “pope emeritus”.

Wolf’s comments come against a background of the recently released fourth volume of the collected works of Joseph Ratzinger, which, as reported by CathNews, Friday, Fr Joseph Ratzinger in 1972, qualified the statement that marriage was indissoluble in the eyes of the Church.

Ratzinger originally wrote: but if “second marriage has proven to have taken on a moral and ethical dimension” and is “lived in the spirit of the faith”, with “moral obligations” towards children and wife, then an opening of communion after a period of probation “seems to be nothing more than just and completely following the line of church tradition”.

Professor Wolf calls the excluded controversial paragraphs as “decisive” and says they clearly position Benedict in the current debate.

“(This) surely does not fit with the claim to withdraw from public life”, says Wolf.

Wolfgang Beinert, retired professor of dogmatics and kindred spirit to Benedict XVI, positions the dramatic change in the text differently.

Beignet told domradio.de that it is likely a coincidence that the book by the former pope appears now.

He says that of necessity, the text, to be published in book-form, would have been made well before the Emeritus Pope knew about the Synod on the Family and its issues.


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