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"Pope Emeritus" Benedict XVI Administers Joint Blessing
of New Cardinals created by Francis

What is going on here?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 24, 2016

Yet another strange spectacle in the reign of Pope Bergoglio.  Following the elevation of his seventeen new, reliably progressive cardinals, Francis loaded them into two mini-buses for the short hop to the convent where “Pope Emeritus” Benedict is residing.  There, Benedict XVI administered with Francis a joint blessing of the seventeen, thus lending further credence to the utter novelty of two Popes living at the same time: one active Pope, and the other a kind of passive auxiliary Pope who is trotted out for special occasions, including the previous two consistories Francis has conducted.

In this regard, Antonio Socci has recently called attention to an interview of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, no less than Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, regarding a small book of his, just published, bearing the strange title “Benedict XVI and Francis, successors of Peter, at the service of the Church.” During the interview, Müller made it clear that he thinks that, in fact, there are — somehow, in some way — two Popes currently residing in the Vatican: 

“In fact, we are living through a very special phase in the history of the Church: we have the Pope, but also the Pope Emeritus… Benedict and Francis are two men of God, they do not think about their own advantage, their own interests, but are dedicated fully to the mission of successors of Peter, and this is a great richness for the Church.”

Are dedicated? How exactly is Benedict currently dedicated to “the mission of successors of Peter” if, in fact, he fully renounced the papacy? And if he did not fully renounce that ministry, how could he have renounced it at all?  Why exactly is it a “great richness” for the Church that we have a Pope who abdicated the papacy but decided he would call himself “Pope Emeritus,” something unheard-of in the Church during the previous 2000 years? Is Müller suggesting that this “richness” consists in having more than one Pope at the same time? But how can there be two simultaneously living Popes? 

Socci rightly observes: “…. [U]ntil now it has been said that the papacy cannot be a ‘shared ministry’ by two Popes, neither has Pope Bergoglio accepted this ‘sharing’…. The plot thickens, because he [Müller] turns the spotlight again on the strange ‘renunciation’ of Benedict XVI.  What renunciation if he remains Pope, a Pope who continues to perform ‘fully’ the Petrine ministry.”  Socci has had enough of this nonsense, and I join him in his disgust.  As the headline of his column regarding Müller’s comments: “How much longer will he be able to pretend he does not understand? And why not clarify how things stand?” 

Almost three years into the Bergoglian pontificate all is confusion, and the confusion deepens with each passing week. One has the sense that the Church and the world are hurtling toward that apocalyptic scenario depicted in the vision pertaining to the Third Secret of Fatima, wherein “a Bishop dressed in White” is seen, but the visionaries merely “had the impression it was the Holy Father?” Why only an impression? Why the uncertainty?  How did Our Lady of Fatima clarify the impression, thus removing the uncertainty?  Just who is the white-clad bishop, seeing that there are now two of them living in the Vatican?

Only the text of the Third Secret we have yet to see contains the answers to these questions.  In its absence, we can only speculate: Just what is going on here?