Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bishop Paprocki: Benedict will still be "Pope" but not "Roman Pontiff"

Joan Frawley Desmond of the National Catholic Register has an interesting report of Bishop Paprocki's analysis of Canon Law regarding what Pope Benedict should be called after February 28th.

Paprocki is truly a scholarly bishop. Among other degrees, he holds a J.D. (DePaul University), a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (St Mary of the Lake), and Licentiate and Doctoral Degrees in Canon Law (Pontifical Gregorian University).

He argues that "Pope" is still appropriate because the term is an honorific one. Technically, he says, the office he holds is "bishop of Rome" or "Roman pontiff".
“What seems to have been overlooked so far in these discussions is that the word 'pope' does not appear in the Code of Canon Law,” wrote the bishop. 
Instead, Canon 331, which defines the office held by the pope, provides “several titles for the office held by a pope: 'Bishop of Rome,' 'Successor of St. Peter,' 'Head of the College of Bishops,' 'Vicar of Christ' and 'Pastor of the Universal Church.' Other canons give us the title most commonly used for the Petrine office throughout the Code: ‘Roman Pontiff.’”
Bishop Paprocki then suggested that Catholics should view the word “pope” as “an honorific, even a term of endearment (‘papa’ in Italian). It is not the title of an ecclesiastical office.”
 . . . 
Thus, just as Catholics continue to call a priest “Father,” even though “he has resigned from the office of pastor,” so Italians probably “will continue to call Pope Benedict Papa Benedetto even after he leaves office as the Bishop of Rome,” predicted the bishop, who lived in Rome for three and a half years while studying canon law. 
“I don’t think people will have a hard time wrapping their minds around having a pope who is no longer the Roman pontiff, bishop of Rome, etc. Certainly, in direct address, one would never address him as anything but ‘Your Holiness.’” 
That said, Bishop Paprocki added that it “would be best to know what Pope Benedict himself wants to be called after February 28, and I hope he will tell us.” 
While some experts have said that the Pope should be called “Cardinal Ratzinger” after he formally resigns, Bishop Paprocki did not think term seemed “correct.” 
“If he had resigned before reaching the age of 80, after which a cardinal may no longer vote in a papal conclave, I do not think he would have, should have or could have donned a red cassock and entered the conclave in the Sistine Chapel to vote for his successor. 
“Instead, at 8pm Rome time on Feb. 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI will have a new identity to which we will have to become accustomed: His Holiness, Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, former Roman/supreme pontiff, bishop emeritus of Rome.”
He also discusses the proper term for what Benedict has done, i.e., "abdicate", "resign", etc.
“The official English translation of the Code of Canon Law translates renuntiatio in Canon 332, §2 as 'resignation.' ('If it happens that the Roman pontiff resigns his of­fice, it is required for validity that the resigna­tion is made freely and properly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone.')"

Accordingly, Bishop Paprocki pointed to “resign” as “a more accurate translation in this context than ‘renounce’ and certainly not ‘abdicate’ (a term used by royalty when a monarch steps down from the throne).” 
To those who find it “odd” that Pope Benedict resigned without actually “submitting that resignation to anyone,” Bishop Paprocki noted that the canon offers the following guidance on a “valid” resignation: The decision must be “made freely and properly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone.”

1 comment:

Esteban Vázquez said...

Finally, someone brings some clear thinking to bear on this discussion! It's been mystifying to hear people suggest that he'd be anything than "Pope Benedict" or "His Holiness" after the 28th--especially when it is also suggested that he would be considered a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church once again, or that he'd have to abandon his regnal name. Um, what now?! Thanks for the link!