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Dueling on their Knees

Lucubrations here from the same luminaries who didn't even have Bergoglio on their lists of papabili!The video is here.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Before the conclave John Allen did a number of profiles of the papabili, and he included Bergoglio as a long shot. Then there was the lady who walked into an Irish pub and told everyone to bet on Bergoglio. Those who took her advice cleaned up. She said she had an email about it, but didn't say who it was from. Hmmm.

Neither Allen nor the Pubster among the luminaries quoted in the "Times" piece. Hmmm.

The NY Times article is a good one, so I see no reason to complain of lucubrations. The use of the term "cohabitation" arises from politics in France and a few other nations, when president and prime minister are from different political parties. In this article, it might suggest some sort of Benedictine influence on the Pope's decisions, but Benedict has said he will avoid that role.----Many of us born around December, 1936, cannot kneel as the two Popes are kneeling in the photo. All the more good health to them!

Here's Allen's Mar. 3 profile of Bergoglio: I see it, The New York Times just doesn't live in exactly the same world that religious people live in. The NYT also doesn't seem to read Time Magazine. Here's Time's article about Allen's pre-conclave profile of Bergoglio. I really don't think that the NYT is prejudiced, it just isn't much interested in religious affairs -- doesn't see the relevance, no doubt (unlike food and health, which get an enormous amount of attention there).

Perhaps the Times's reporter are here infected by the spirit of their Italian colleagues who seem to be the main source for their "facts." And yes, pope and pope emeritus apparently have knees that bend!

In a couple of photos which I saw Benedict looked extremely bent over. I wonder if his health is worse than we've been told :-( I hope his encyclical on faith or whatever it would be called now is published before he dies.

A funny thing seems to have happened to the headline for the article since I posted the above. It now reads: "Behind Image of Seamless Transition, Vatican Navigates Uncharted Waters."When I first wrote the post the headline played with "dual Popes" and raised the specter of dueling spheres of authority. Hence the title of my post. Can anyone retrieve the original headline? And any thoughts on what prompted the change?

In the video, Pope Francis presents an icon which is entitled "Our Lady of Humility" to Benedict and says that when he saw it he thought of Benedict and his pontificate. Benedict was clearly moved by his successor's gracious words and gesture.

The current on-line headline (3/23/ 9:30 PM) is "Two Popes Are Side by Side as Brothers".Guess that's what multiple platforms produce.

Having a current officeholder and a retired predecessor in the same jurisdiction is very common, in the church and in the wider world. It happens in parish rectories where a pastor emeritus resides with the current pastor. It happens in many dioceses where a retired bishop continues to reside. All depends on the retiree. If he determines not to create any mischief, then there is no mischief. I'll be surprised if the bishop emeritus of Rome creates any mischief.

jP: I have seen the phenomenon you describe and it is often quite productive of both pastor and pastor emeritus. The problem may turn out to be the hangers-on from the pastor emeritus who don't accept the new pastor. What is your experience?

I am less worried now that I see the apparent ease with which Pope Francis goes his own way.When I remember that Benedict, when he was pope, was not "allowed" to keep his cat, and how he submitted to the rules, I can't help but think that Pope Francis would have made it work.The idea of their being in regular communication is a lot less threatening now than two weeks ago.

Regarding the "softening" of the headlines from "dueling" to "uncharted waters" to "side by side as brothers" -- I wonder whether watching the video, which shows (at least to my eyes) the progressive enfeeblement of Benedict, influenced the movable "platforms?"

If you Google "dual popes" it links to the NY Times article above with "Spotlight on Benedict Raises Questions on Dual, or Potentially Dueling, Popes" but when you follow the link, you get the softer headline you mention.And I think it raises more than a spectre of competing authority, when it manages to bring up the Western Schism. Fortunately, the Times was able to set all of our minds at rest when they cite a Church historian who "dismissed the possibility of a new schism like the one that occurred with the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378." Well. That's a relief, a new schism would have been a real downer. I had to look up "lucubrations" to find out what it meant (I thought maybe they were tearful).

Irene,thanks for following the headline trail. The "Times'" lucubrations are indeed lachrymose!

Irene - I looked it up, too. Speaking as one who did his graduate work and then deacon formation (academically speaking, more graduate work) at night while working during the day, not to speak of the husband and father stuff, I wish I had found the word years earlier, as it is particularly resonant for me :-).

"What is your experience?"Margaret - in my parish, it worked wonderfully well. In fact, for a number of years, our rectory had a pastor and two retired pastors, one the pastor emeritus, the other his bosom pal, the pastor emeritus of a nearby parish. It was enriching for everyone, including and especially the rest of us. I've seen some priests who, as they age, become kind of cantankerous and sour - well, it isn't just priests that it can happen to - but in the case of these guys, they just became more translucent with joy and holiness as they got older. We were all blessed by the arrangement.I've also seen one situation in which a retired pastor did elect to be difficult. In those situations, it boils down to a question of authority and its uses. In the end, the current pastor has all the authority. In the situation I'm thinking of, the pastor emeritus was thrown out on his ear, and rightly so - he's no longer the boss of the place, and lives there by the sufferance of the current master. I'd think the very worst situation for a faith community would be when there is a combination of mischievous pastor emeritus and weak/insecure/less-than-competent pastor. Hopefully, there won't be an issue in Rome (and the story in the NY Times strikes me as a tissue of speculation - journalistic wishful thinking? - with no actual evidence or indications of any problems). I find LA more interesting :-)

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