Damian Thompson broaches the subject of the two-pope quandry today by first announcing that he’s about to wildly speculate.
Would Benedict have resigned if he knew Francis would succeed him? Purely hypothetical but interesting. Benedict must have known there was a chance that Cardinal Bergoglio would succeed him. My guess is that when the Argentinian emerged on the balcony the Pope Emeritus was dismayed but concluded that God works in mysterious ways. A more interesting, albeit even more hypothetical, question is whether Benedict would have resigned if he’d known Francis would call a synod that threw open the question of whether divorced and remarried Catholics should receive Communion.
My guess is that Benedict wasn’t the least bit surprised to get Bergoglio. After defending the faith for two pontificates, how could he possibly have blamed God for the election of man like Francis?
Why does Benedict wear white? Benedict’s decision to dress as pope – minus the little mozzetta cape around his shoulders, and switching from red to brown shoes – sends a signal to the faithful. But what signal? We don’t need reminding that he used to be the Supreme Pontiff. My theory is that, by remaining in papal white, Benedict communicates that although he is an ex-pope he is also a living successor of Peter. It would be fascinating to know whether Benedict feels that he retains some spiritual status or responsibility by virtue of having held his office.
Fascinating indeed! Perhaps he’s almost papal himself.
Do some Catholics believe there are two popes? The Italian journalist Antonio Socci has proposed that Benedict XVI’s resignation was not canonically valid because he was forced out. He and other conspiracy theorists therefore believe there is only one pope, but he is not called Francis. This is nonsense. As for the “two popes” business, no one thinks there are two reigning pontiffs.
I’ve written before that I think it would be a bit of a stretch to expect God, if it were the case, to give the papal charism to a man installed by the enemies of the Church after a reigning pope was pulled down from the thrown. I’m not sure we can faithfully presume God will go beyond what He’s always done. I’ve never read that Socci believes Francis is not pope. He doesn’t think he’s Catholic though, and I have to agree.
I don’t think Socci’s a ‘conspiracy theorist’ like Robert Dear.
In a time where there are two popes, an original and a second, and when such great evil reigns, I don’t think it’s nonsense to ‘speculate’ that the one who was pope first might still be pope. His resignation may have been compelled by force, under the gun so to speak, and not willed by him at all. Would that make Francis not Pope? I don’t know. Perhaps. The Benedict XVI situation is almost entirely unprecedented, really.
As to the assertion, “no one thinks there are two reigning pontiffs,” it seems Thompson is letting his blue blood show. That fact is no-one with any establishment ‘credibility’ expresses that, but still people must wonder.
Thompson closes with this unfortunate whopper:
Of one thing we can be certain: he believes that the Keys of Peter were handed to Jorge Bergoglio by the Holy Spirit, in whom the faith of the Pope Emeritus has never wavered.
How could the man know that?