Will Pope Benedict XVI become a shadow Pope?



SHADOW POPE? Pope Benedict XVI greets pilgrims at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI basked in an emotional sendoff Wednesday at his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square. concerns have been aired about potential conflicts arising from the peculiar reality now facing the Catholic Church: having one reigning and one retired Pope. AP PHOTO/GREGORIO BORGIA

VATICAN CITY—Two Pontiffs, both wearing white, both called “Pope” and living a few meters from each other, with the same key aide serving them.

The Vatican’s announcement on Tuesday that Pope Benedict XVI will be known as “Pope Emeritus” in his retirement, be called “Your Holiness” and continue to wear the white cassock associated with the papacy has fueled concerns about potential conflicts arising from the peculiar reality now facing the Catholic Church: having one reigning and one retired Pope.

Benedict’s title and what he will wear have been a major source of speculation since the 85-year-old Pontiff stunned the world and announced he would resign on Thursday, the first Pope to do so in 600 years.

There has been good reason why Popes haven’t stepped down in past centuries, given the possibility for divided allegiances and even schism. But the Vatican insists that while the situation created by Benedict’s retirement is certainly unique, no major conflicts will arise.

“According to the evolution of Catholic doctrine and mentality, there is only one Pope. Clearly it’s a new situation, but I don’t think there will be problems,” Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, said in an interview.

Critics aren’t so sure. Some Vatican-based cardinals have privately grumbled that it will make it more difficult for the next Pope with Benedict still around.

Swiss theologian Hans Küng, Benedict’s onetime colleague-turned-critic, went further:  “With Benedict XVI, there is a risk of a shadow Pope who has abdicated but can still indirectly exert influence,” he told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine last week.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said on Tuesday that Benedict himself decided on his name and wardrobe in consultation with others, settling on “Your Holiness Benedict XVI” and either “Pope Emeritus” or “Roman Pontiff Emeritus.”

Lombardi said he didn’t know why Benedict had decided to drop his other main title: Bishop of Rome.

In the two weeks since Benedict’s resignation announcement, Vatican officials had suggested that Benedict would likely resume wearing the traditional black garb of a cleric and would use the title “Bishop Emeritus of Rome” to avoid creating confusion with the future Pope.

Adding to the concern is that Benedict’s trusted secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, will be serving both Pontiffs—living with Benedict at the monastery being converted for him inside Vatican grounds while keeping his day job as prefect of the new Pope’s household.

Asked about the potential for conflict, Lombardi was defensive, saying the decisions had been clearly reasoned and were likely chosen for the sake of simplicity.

“I believe it was well thought out,” he said.

Benedict himself has made clear he is retiring to a lifetime of prayer and meditation “hidden from the world.” But he still will be very present in the tiny Vatican city-state, where his new home is right next door to the Vatican Radio transmission tower and has a lovely view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Küng said it was a mistake for Gänswein to serve both men and for Benedict to remain so close to the center of action.

“No priest likes it if his predecessor sits next to the rectory and watches everything he does,” Küng was quoted as saying in Der Spiegel. “And even for the bishop of Rome, it is not pleasant if his predecessor constantly has an eye on him.”

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Pert Cabatana

    the international press is beginning to sound like a cheap tabloid, speculating on the non-essentials, thriving on self-made intrigues. 

    • UrHONOR

      I think you’ve got a point there…it’s true that the pope is non-essential in the general scheme of things. :)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WC2VPZRJETRO5KOU4VOZCJXEDY Tamarindwalk

         Considering that the majority of the world is not Catholic (and those that are are declining in numbers!), you have a good point!

      • UrHONOR

         AND may I add the word FAST to your “declining in number” to make it more accurate.


    >>>Will Pope Benedict XVI become a shadow Pope?<<<

    THAT"S swell!  Tapos,  pag nagkaroon na ng bagong powp, pag-resignin…tapos mag-e-lect ulit ng isa pa…..at kapag nangyari yan…BINGO!  3 powps in one Vatican.  The prophecy shall have been fulfilled according to chap ano, verse ano din.

    BTW, Excellent reporting and journalism PDI!  

  • tarikan

    Why, call him ex-Pope problema ba yun? And when the next Pope is ordained, make a law to order the ex-Pope to be relocated to his home country (Germany should & must resettle him). And if the ex-Pope is a native Italian, he must be relocated to a permanent retirement home inside Italy but hundred of miles or even thousand of miles away from the Vatican. Surely the Vatican can afford to buy such a place. It really is an awkward situation for the ex-Pope living inside the Vatican premises and to top all that sharing the new Pope’s secretary. Wow, daming tsimis back and forth. Parang si Gloria at Mike dyan laang sa guest house ng Malacanan (g) nakatira hanggang ngayon. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WC2VPZRJETRO5KOU4VOZCJXEDY Tamarindwalk

    I think the press should stop speculating about this man and allow him to retire.  Catholics treated his words as law when he was Pope and he spoke the words when he was.  Why should people speculate on what this man says anymore?

  • chiapet0711

    They already got one shadowy pope, why do they need another? Shoot, why don’t they just have Adolfo step up to the plate. He’d make a fiiiiiine canidate.

  • RomyLitz

    Definitely it is quiet complicated as in the case of Singapore. You have a senior prime minister and “jr”. Prime minister..In most cases, Lee Kuan Yew, long known as retired leader of Singapore is still calling the shots !! He can because he is the father. In this case, two Popes, one retired and one reigning is confusing and divisive.. One way to be peacefull reigning is to kill the other Pope, which one I dont know…Catholics are fond of complicating things like assigning a Bishop or cardinal known to be gay !!

  • wode shouji

    You “Inquirer News” stands long against the Catholic Church. You editors and writers are Christians by name only. I believe on the last day you are all responsible for the evil words 
    which are spelling here above. As a Christian I am very ashamed of such kind of media way of “earning money” by so doing.   

    Hans Küng’s criticism has the background that he was stopped to teach in the Catholic universities for his own doctrines by the Blessed Pope John Paul II.

    Yes is yes, No is no. All else is out of evil.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos