None of this consultation should cause a crisis in the church. On the contrary, I think it will help the church better understand the papacy, more as an office and less as a sacred status. Benedict set that office aside and is no longer pope, and whatever advice or reflections he may offer today come from a private citizen, so to speak.So why Pope Benedicts insistence that he will be hidden from the world? Because I think he also understands that whatever his working relationship with Pope Francis, hell have to greatly limit his other encounters, his public statements and even, perhaps, his published writings.Benedict is keenly aware of how information travels through back channels at the Vatican and through electronic media around the world. Even an offhand remark by the retired pope say, to a group of German Catholics or to a cardinal over tea could echo within the hierarchy or across the blogosphere, and possibly be construed as criticism or divergence from the current pope.Allegiance to Benedict still runs strong in some church circles, and there are those who would not hesitate to invoke the retired popes supposed opinion to impede or slow the projects of Pope Francis. Precisely to cut off that possibility, I expect Benedict to be true to his word and maintain a prudent silence.Whats intriguing is that there is still no attempt to codify any of this, and no official job description for a retired pope. Benedict is doing it his way, but the next time may be quite different.