The Pope gave another inflight interview on his flight back from Armenia, and it is a doozy. We will be examining it piece by piece this week. Go here to read the text of the interview.
Today we look at the Pope’s response to the question of whether there is two popes:
Elisbetta Piqué, La Nacion: Congratulations for the trip, first of all. We wanted to ask you: we know that you are the Pope and Pope Benedict, the Pope Emeritus, is also there, but lately some statements from the prefect of the pontifical household, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, have come down, who suggested that there is a shared Petrine ministry, if I’m not mistaken, with one active Pope and one contemplative Pope. Are there two Popes?
Pope Francis: There was a time in the Church when there were three! (laughs) I didn’t read those declarations because I didn’t have time to see those things. Benedict is a Pope Emeritus, he said it clearly that February 11th when he was giving his resignation as of February 28th when he would retire and help the Church with prayer.
And, Benedict is in the monastery praying. I went to see him so many times… or by telephone. The other day he wrote me a little little letter. He still signs with his signature, wishing me well for this trip, and once, not once but many times, I’ve said that it’s a grace to have a wise grandfather at home. I’ve also told him to his face and he laughs, but for me he is the Pope Emeritus. He is the wise grandfather. He is the man that protects my shoulders and back with his prayer.
I never forget that speech he made to us cardinals on February 28th, “among you I’m sure that there is my successor. I promise obedience.” And he’s done it. But, then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, this, eh – I underscore, I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character – that some have gone there (to him) to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s welcome because this man is like that. He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man.
He is the Pope Emeritus. Then, I don’t know if you remember that I thanked him publicly. I don’t know when but I think it was on a flight, Benedict, for having opened the door to Popes emeriti. But, 70 years ago bishops emeriti didn’t exist. Today, we have them… but with this lengthening of life, but can you run a Church at this age, with aches and pains or not? And he, courageously, and with prayer and with science, with theology decided to open this door and I believe that this is good for the Church.
But there is one single Pope, and the other… maybe they will be like the bishops emeriti, I’m not saying many but possibly there could be two or three. They will be emeriti… They are emeriti.
The day after tomorrow, the 65th anniversary of his episcopal (Fr. Lombardi says something to the Pope), sorry, priestly ordination will be celebrated. His brother Georg will be there because they were both ordained together. There will be a little event with the dicastery heads and few people because he prefers a … he accepted, but very modestly, and also I will be there and I will say something to this great man of prayer, of courage that is the Pope Emeritus, not the second Pope, who is faithful to his word and a great man of God, is very intelligent, and for me he is the wise grandfather at home.
Obviously the Pope has been paying attention to the remarks of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the personal secretary of the Pope Emeritus. Go here and here to read those remarks. It is instructive that the Pope mentions that he has heard that people have gone to the Pope Emeritus to complain about him and that the Pope Emeritus has chased them away. On June 28th, the Pope Emeritus on the occasion of his 65th anniversary as a priest, praised Pope Francis in words which strike PopeWatch as being carefully chosen. Go here to read them. As ever, wheels within wheels at the Vatican.