As Kathweb reports, Hubert Wolf, professor of church history in Munster, calls for a clearer distinction between pope and “pope emeritus” in Thursday’s edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. According to Wolf, there have been fears that “around Francis and Benedict XVI two competing power centers could come into being in the curia, with pope and antipope at the top of each.”
The church historian notes that when Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, he became member of the college of cardinals again and traded his papal clothing for the purple of a cardinal. He was no longer addressed as “Your Holiness.”*
The professor suggests that instead of the title “pope emeritus,” more appropriate would be “cardinal bishop emeritus.”
There is currently much discussion about the recently-released fourth volume of the collected works of Joseph Ratzinger. In this volume, he altered decisive passages about those divorced and remarried which he originally wrote in 1972. Wolf writes that with this publication, the former pope “clearly” positions himself “in the current debate, which surely does not fit with the claim to withdraw from public life.”
On the other hand, Wolfgang Beinert, retired professor of dogmatics and kindred spirit to Benedict XVI, told domradio.de it is likely a coincidence that the book by the former pope appears now. He said,
The fact is that the publication of the collected works of Ratzinger was prepared long beforehand. There is a publication timetable which specifies exactly when each volume is to appear. And secondly, one must consider that between editorial reworking and then possible interventions of the author and the appearance of the volume, some time is required for purely technological reasons. I presume that the changes which Benedict made already took place before one knew about the bishops’ synod and its issues.
*The original post stated that he traded his white papal clothing, seemed to suggest that the council ended in 1415, and said he was then addressed as “Your Eminence.” The post has been changed because of comment #15 below. The original post faithfully translated the Kathweb story; because the full article in FAZ is not accessible, it is very possible that the error is on the part of the linked story rather than the respected historian.