New title for Pope Benedict reveals he will still be called Pope


Since the 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign on Monday, February 11, 2013, there have been much speculation in the media and the general public as to what the Pope will be called and what he would wear when he leaves the papacy.

There had been speculations that he will be simply called ‘Cardinal Ratzinger’ or ‘Ex-Pope’ or Former Pope’ or ‘Ex-Bishop of Rome’. These speculations came about because Pope Benedict XVI is the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. Thus for 600 years, no one…not even the Roman Catholic Church bothered about titles for former living Popes because no one was anticipating that a sitting Pope would resign.

Today…Tuesday, February 26, 2013, thanks to the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, we now know that Pope Benedict XVI (The pontiff), will be called “Pope Emeritus”, “Emeritus Pope” or “Roman Pontiff Emeritus”.  He will also keep the name Benedict XVI and still be addressed as “Your holiness” or “His Holiness” once he retires.

Secondly, he will continue to wear a white cassock instead of the traditional black garb of a cleric as initially thought by Vatican officials. Vatican officials had also suspected that he will use the title “emeritus bishop of Rome” in order not to create confusion with the future pope.Lovers Empire advert

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Pope Benedict made the decision himself in consultation with others to be called “Your Holiness Benedict XVI” or “Pope emeritus” or “Roman pontiff emeritus”. Following these decisions, the Pope has dropped his title of “Bishop of Rome”, which is the traditional title given to every Pope. It makes sense since he will be leaving office as active Pope so that the next Pope can assume that title which is a traditional one meant for active popes. It should be noted that in Roman Catholicism, the Pope is also called the “Bishop of Rome”.

What does “Pope Emeritus” or “Pontiff Emeritus” mean?

Emeritus by itself according to the Free Dictionary by Farlex means: “one who is retired but retains an honorary title corresponding to that held immediately before retirement”. Thus as Pope Emeritus or Pontiff Emeritus, Pope Benedict will still be called Pope or still be Pope, only that he will be called Retired Pope or retired Pontiff and of course he will be retired and not be the active Pope. Since Pope Benedict will also keep the name Benedict XVI and still be addressed as “his holiness” once he retires, it is safe to say that once he retires and moves into a life of seclusion and prayer as from Thursday 28th February 2013, he will be called…His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI”. 

Concerns Raised by Pope Benedict’s new Titles

Pope Benedict’s decision to call himself Pope Emeritus or Emeritus Pope and to keep wearing white might raise concerns. Some media sources say some cardinals have privately voiced concern about the unusual reality of having two popes, both living within the Vatican City walls. The concern stems from what some fear could be potential conflicts arising from having a former Pope and a reigning Pope at the same time.africdating ad

What is more worrying is the fact that Pope Benedict’s trusted secretary; Monsignor (Archbishop) Georg Gaenswein will be serving both pontiffs. Archbishop Gaenswein will be living with soon to be His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI” at the monastery inside the Vatican and at the same time will keep his day job as prefect of the new pope’s household.

A few Vatican experts see it as a mistake for Monsignor Gaenswein to serve both Popes and for Benedict to remain so close to the center of action.

About retaining the title of Pope, others have reasoned that Pope Benedict’s action is in keeping with those of other retired heads of state who are still called e.g President or Mr. President like in the United States of America. But there is no evidence that the Pontiff’s decision is based on that. 

Final Transition as Pope

At exactly 8.00 p.m prompt, Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement will become official. At this same exact time, the Swiss Guards standing outside the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo who for more than five centuries have protected the pope and his residence will go off duty…their service protecting the head of the Catholic Church will now end. From this moment according to the Vatican Spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, retired Pope Benedict will be protected by the Vatican police.

After his resignation, Pope Benedict will no longer use the Fisherman’s Ring; the symbol of the pope…says Rev. Lombardi. The ring will be destroyed, along with Benedict’s papal seal, after his departure from office. He will wear a simple white cassock, without the customary red mantle of the pontiff. He will also no longer wear red shoes. It is speculated that he may adopt instead the brown shoes that he received as a gift in Leon, Mexico, during a trip last year.