Left Menu
Development News Edition

Amid Benedict book controversy, Vatican officials see need for rules on ex-popes


Amid Benedict book controversy, Vatican officials see need for rules on ex-popes
File photo

An imbroglio over former Pope Benedict's involvement in a book has sparked calls by some Vatican officials for clear rules about the status of any future pontiffs who may resign rather than the rule for life. Senior official sources said they hope Pope Francis addresses the issue after the death of Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pope in 700 years to abdicate and who is now a frail 92-year-old.

The idea of such rules, which is being discussed informally, is important because, as people live longer than they did in the past, it may become the new normal for popes to step down, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Francis, 83, has said he too would resign if ill health prevented him from properly running the 1.3 billion-member Catholic Church, as Benedict did.

Church law says a pope can resign, but it lacks specific rules on his status, title, and prerogatives. The issue exploded this week amid controversy around a book the publishers say was co-authored by Benedict and Cardinal Robert Sarah, a leading Vatican conservative, on the issue of priestly celibacy. On the eve of publication, Benedict said he wanted his name removed as co-author. The publishers refused. Sarah said Benedict had known he would be listed as co-author and dismissed accusations he had manipulated the ex-pontiff.

"The pope emeritus has been dragged yet again into an unseemly power play against Francis," wrote Austen Ivereigh, author of two biographies of Francis, adding that "the emeritus papacy has proved a disorderly institution, one vulnerable to manipulation ..." Supporters of Francis see the timing of the book as interference by Church conservatives such as Sarah, coming as the pope considers allowing older married men to be ordained in the remotest areas of the Amazon, to deal with the shortage of priests there.

Since he stepped down, Benedict has occasionally allowed his views on specific subjects to be aired outside the Vatican, to the joy of fellow conservatives who have used them as ammunition to contest Francis' more open-minded papacy. Papal resignations are still a new frontier. Days before Benedict abdicated on Feb. 28, 2013, he scripted his own rules, investing himself with the title pope emeritus, deciding to continue to wear white and to live in the Vatican.

'SYMBOLS ARE IMPORTANT' Some critics believe he should have stepped further away from the papacy and kept strictly to his promise to "remain hidden from the world" after abdicating.

"In the Catholic Church, symbols are important," said Father Tom Reese, a Washington-based Catholic author, and commentator for Religion News Service. "Symbols communicate, they teach. If you are not the pope, you should not be wearing white. Having two men wearing white sitting next to each other makes them look like they are equals when they are not," he wrote.

Reese said an ex-pontiff should not be called pope, should return to wearing either the red or black garb of a cardinal or priest, and should return to using his own name. Since a pope is also the bishop of Rome, Reese and others have suggested that a former pontiff should be called "bishop emeritus of Rome".

He would then be subject to the same written rules, last updated in 2004, that cover retired bishops. Those rules say any bishop emeritus "will want to avoid every attitude and relationship that could even hint at some kind of parallel authority to that of the diocesan bishop, with damaging consequences for the pastoral life and unity of the diocesan community".

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

Beware! Maximum cyber criminals eye your personal data

A report of the World Economic Forum revealed that cyber security is increasingly becoming an issue of public security as the majority of cyber criminals are increasingly targetting individual internet users. This requires preventive measur...

WEF 2020: Trump seems politically correct in pulling out from Paris Agreement

If the survey of the World Economic Forum WEF is believed, Trump seems to enjoy the confidence of his people in flaying climate intuitions and climate activists. His preference for economic development over environmental protection not only...

From home to healthcare, here are Robotic innovations transforming lives

Lovot is equipped with more than 50 sensors such as thermography, microphone array, obstacle detection, and touch sensor to generate motion and emotions in real-time....

Translating words to deeds: Achieving gender parity in access to financial resources

... ...

Videos

Latest News

UPDATE 3-Turkey quake kills at least 22, rescuers dig for survivors

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey reached 22 on Saturday, as rescuers searched for an estimated 22 more people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.The magnitude 6.8 quake late Friday shook Elazig provin...

Study shows effects of Chinese divorce law on women's wellbeing

Chinese divorce law affects womens wellbeing adversely, reveals a recent report. The study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. In the past, Chinas Supreme Court amended the property rights of women in 2011 by ruling that fa...

WRAPUP 6-China virus toll hits 41; Australia reports first four cases

The death toll from Chinas coronavirus outbreak jumped on Saturday to 41 as the Lunar New Year got off to a gloomy start, with Hong Kong declaring a virus emergency, scrapping celebrations, and restricting links to mainland China.Australia ...

Food scarcity may be the reason behind premature death, reveals study

A recent report reveals that adults with lesser access to adequate food due to financial inability are more likely to succumb to any health issues other than cancer. The count goes as high as 10 to 37 percent as compared to food-secure peop...

Give Feedback