In flying back from the Middle East, Pope Francis made a response to a question that has not received much attention:
After a grueling but ultimately successful three-day visit to one of the most complicated regions on the planet, the idea of retirement probably sounded pretty good to Francis. So it is no surprise that when reporters traveling with him on the papal plane asked if he would consider resigning like his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, he said he wouldn’t rule it out.
“I will do what the Lord tells me to do. Pray and try to follow God’s will. Benedict XVI no longer had the strength and honestly, as a man of faith, humble as he is, he took this decision,” Francis said, according to a transcript of his press conference published in La Stampa’s Vatican Insider. “Seventy years ago, popes emeritus didn’t exist. What will happen with popes emeritus? We need to look at Benedict XVI as an institution, he opened a door, that of the popes emeritus. The door is open, whether there will be others, only God knows. I believe that if a bishop of Rome feels he is losing his strength, he must ask himself the same questions Pope Benedict XVI did.”
Go here to read the rest at The Daily Beast. PopeWatch hopes that Pope Francis does not follow the example of Pope Benedict. A Pope Emeritus sets the stage for disagreement between the sitting Pope and the retired Pope with potentially disastrous consequences for the Church. Pope Benedict has been quite silent and discreet, but I do not think Pope Francis would, or could, follow his example. One of his patented free-wheeling interviews as Pope Emeritus, and the divisions created within the Church could be severe, especially with the media certain to hype any seeming conflict with the sitting Pope. Pope Benedict set a very bad modern precedent by retiring, and if Pope Francis does it too, it would become almost expected for the pope to no longer be a lifetime office, but rather one to be retired from. That changes the nature of the office and the role of the pope in the Church. Nothing but evil can come about if such retirements become part and parcel of the papacy.