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Questions about Benedict XVI you were afraid to ask

2015-04-16

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005. He led the Catholic Church for nearly eight years before resigning in 2013. Although he was once one of the most famous people in the world, he is now a mystery to many.

Here are answers to questions about Benedict XVI and his new life.

What is his title now?

He has kept the name Benedict XVI, and he is still referred to as "his holiness.” It is also appropriate to call him pope emeritus, emeritus pope, or Roman pontifex emeritus.

Why did he resign?

In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI became the first Bishop of Rome to resign since 1415. 

During a meeting with cardinals, he said this:

POPE BENEDICT XVI
February 11, 2013
"My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

He was the fourth oldest Pope of all time.

The Vatican had faced a series of challenges and scandals during his tenure, and it is likely that he believed a more capable and energetic pope could help the Church through that moment.

Are there two Popes?

No. While Benedict retains the title of emeritus pope, he has relinquished all power. He made a point of expressing complete loyalty to whoever the conclave chose as his successor. 

POPE BENEDICT XVI
February 28, 2013
"Among you, in the College of Cardinals, is the future Pope. I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience to him."

Although some were concerned that the resignation might cause confusion, Pope Francis has been universally recognized as the Catholic Church's only pope.
 
Where does he live, and what does he do?

The pope emeritus lives in a former convent inside the Vatican Gardens.
He typically wakes up before 8:00 a.m. for Mass. He spends his mornings reading, praying, and writing. That is followed by a walk in the afternoons. At night, he watches Italian television news and prays.

His secretary said that Benedict XVI still has a sharp mind and can play piano from memory. He very rarely appears in public.

Is he healthy?

An aide to the pope emeritus said that "sometimes his legs give him a few problems,” but he is otherwise healthy for a man in his late 80s.

What is his relationship with Pope Francis like?

By all accounts, good. When he resigned, Benedict XVI said he would provide counsel to the new pope if need be.

Pope Francis is known to visit or call him from time to time. They were last seen together in February, when new cardinals were inducted.  Benedict XVI smiled, and the two popes embraced each other.



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