PopeWatch: One Pope



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.

More to explorer


  1. I don’t admire Benedict’s calculated tip toeing ( Francis has “goodness”…silently…prudence and wisdom…not so much)…and it reminds me of post Regensburg when Benedict distanced himself from the Islam critical remarks he himself cited from an historical figure. I’d admire Benedict if he privately not publicly rebuked Francis on clergy cooperating with the internal forum of objective adulterers and the reception of the Eucharist. As in Paul versus Peter in Galatians, courage trumps obedience. Instead we seem to have the safety of obedience trumping courage which means we can expect no fraternal correction of Francis by Benedict. Obedience trumping courage was why Ratzinger did nothing about Fr. Maciel Degollardo until St.JPII was dead. Paul would have resisted Peter to his face.
    I drew joy and strength yesterday when a New Jersey judge gave a home invader life plus four years for beating a small mother endlessly before her child….and in light of his long criminal history prior to that. The judge was more connected to the justice and severity of God (Rom.13:4) than our Church leadership for several decades now.

  2. I agree with Bill Bannon above. And as for Jorge Bergoglio, may God forgive me……I should not continue. You all know how I feel.

  3. It would be a much more congenial Church if our Shepherds were men of God, amply endowed with the Holy Spirit; brave, holy men who led their flock into all Truth. Protectors against evil days.

    This Church, we do not have.

    We are required by circumstances to choose. I chose, a number of years ago to leave family and friends and my familial patrimony in the Evangelical Protestant church to follow the One Faith in the Holy Bride of Christ. I did this because I judged one to be false and the other to be true. When that judgement was made, it was no longer just theory. It required action. I had to leave, physically and spiritually, the false and, with my wife and children and their souls at stake, I had to follow what I judged to be true. Against all the naysayers who were close to me that said I was wrong, and from whom there were consequences, I left false for True

    We Catholics must now CHOOSE. We cannot ignore these events. We cannot wait for the Shepherds to “do something”; to tell us what to do. They will not be judged in our place at our own Particular Judgement. We will be on our own for what we did in the times and circumstances given to us.

    There are now two men who claim the title of Pope. There is no such thing as a Pope Emeritus. There is only one living successor of Peter until death. It has always been so. A successor can abandon his Lord, but then he is no longer Christ’s Vicar. He is something much, much worse. There can not be a spiritual Vicar of Christ and an active, administrative Vicar of Christ; a retired Vicar who can’t cut it any more and an active Vicar who can. Man cannot improve on what Jesus gave to mankind directly as the Cornerstone. Man cannot expand the Petrine ministry. There is no such thing as one (or more!) “emeritus” POPES! Jesus did not grant it. Jesus did not make a mistake. Every Pope must walk with Jesus, carrying the Cross with Jesus, until his natural end. This new invention is of Man, not God!

    So now we must choose, as I chose. Comfortable? No! Required? Yes! And there will be consequences for either choice. But judge we must. To ignore this is to choose.

  4. Brian,
    You are seeing the papacy like marriage…” until death”. But what if a Pope has a massive stroke and goes into a coma for years. He cannot feed the sheep. There must be another chosen to do his vocation. The papacy is not like marriage and is not until death intrinsically.
    Try not to increase your dilemnas. Since you are strong willed, the devil will throw dilemnas at you that falsely increase your obligations. He, like the scribes, likes to add commandments to your shoulders.

  5. Bill, I’m not quite sure I understand you.

    In regards to the See of Peter, if you are referring to that, it can only become vacant if the occupant dies or resigns. It is not vacant while a Pope is in a coma for years. It becomes vacant when he dies.

  6. Bill, I referred to both; death or shameful resignation. Obviously, death is the normal path off of the August Chair of St. Peter. Popes are called to walk with Christ, like Christ, faithful to Christ to the end.

    I ALSO referred to a Pope “who chooses to abandon his Lord, but then he is no longer Christ’s Vicar, but something much less”. That is why it has happened only a handful of times in 2,000 years and 266 Popes. It s a betrayal to resign. It is like the Quo Vadis moment when Peter is leaving Rome to avoid persecution and has a vision of Christ going the opposite way. “Where are you going Lord?” Peter asks. “To be crucified again, since you will not”, He replies. Peter repents. Returns. Takes up his yoke to the end. Dies on the Cross upside down. And the Church was truly born. Peter was faithful, and upon THAT Rock the Bride of Christ stands.

    Pope “Emeritus” is impossible. Only in a false Church can there be an “Emeritus”. Christ did not ordain such a thing. Man came up with that one. I do not accept it.


  7. Brian,
    I think you’re underestimating what old age does to SOME men. Talk to elders in your family about Benedict and his resignation and listen to what they say. I don’t admire deeply any of the last three Popes because they all had a cafeteria approach to the Bible but I understand that Benedict reached his nervous system limit. Some men at 80 can run a hedge fund and others can’t handle their schedule for a week. With modern medicine, a Pope could be vegetative and comatose for a decade but fed through his veins which didn’t occur in the past centuries. Christ said nothing about being Pope til death while He did so speak about marriage. The permanency of marriage is because Christ loves the Church, His Bride, forever. The papacy does not have that symbolic role.

  8. Bill, sorry. You are wrong. The Pope has always had that role. Always. To accompany Christ no matter what. The Pope is bound to Christ until death (or he abandons Him).

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