Friday, February 22, 2013

Pope's name after resignation

Last Saturday, I predicted the pope would be referred to as "Emeritus Bishop of Rome" upon his retirement. I was close, I just got the words in the wrong order. It was announced today that upon resignation the pope will be called "Bishop Emeritus of Rome". The video from which I received this information did not mention what proper name he would go by, whether it would be Benedict or Joseph Ratzinger. That's still a tough question for me, and I'm on the fence about it.

Upon their deaths, popes are obviously still referred to by their regnal name. Therefore if Benedict goes back to being called Joseph Ratzinger, I would assume his name would be once again changed back to Benedict upon his death. This would seem rather odd. The problem with keeping the name Benedict is that it implies he is still pope since he has a papal regnal name and is still alive. That's why I'm on the fence. Both names have logical reasons to be used. It does not appear as though this particular issue was addressed by the Vatican.

Actually, scrap that! I re-watched the video and they did indeed address that question. They said he would still be addressed as His Holiness Benedict XVI. This decision makes sense to me when I think about it. Legitimate opes have never reverted back to their original name. Also, I can speak about "Pope John Paul II" without implying that he is still in charge. We do not now call him Karol Wojtyła. It's sort of like when an American president retires and he is still called Mr. President.

I'm glad this has now been cleared up.

Here's a video about the announcement:

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