At the risk of overdoing the ecclesiastical content of Argus over the last few days, I must say that the decision that Pope Benedict XVI after he retires tonight will be called Pope Emeritus is a mistake. Emeritus implies that you still are in some way what you were, something that the holders of offices of absolute authority cannot be. They are unique and are either what they are or they are not. King Edward VIII could have been called King Emeritus but of course nobody suggested it. Emeritus is fine for retired professors still pottering around the campus but there can be only one Pope. With a Pope Emeritus - still clad in papal white, moreover - there could be the illusion of two; and if the new one is not quite as, let us say, traditionalist as Benedict, well let's not enquire where that could lead. Benedict XVI should revert to the title of Cardinal or Archbishop Ratzinger, put on his decent black and stay out of the limelight.

That said, I'm taking a few days off, which I suppose entitles me to call myself, at least for the present, a blog-writer emeritus.

28 February 2013


  1. I agree. There is only one Pope. B XVI is no longer Pope, so what rank and title should best define him? Emeritus? Too confusing. Cardinal? But he can't/vote for the new Pope, so that is peripheral. Bishop? But he doesn't have a see [even if there is a titular one somewhere]. But he ++remains+++ a priest, forever. So after abdicating his role as Pope, I think he would have strenghtened the role of the priesthood by saying something like: I no longer hold any of the grand offices of the Chursh, but I remain a priest, Fr Joseph Ratzinger. Of course his holiness and scholarship should still be available to the Church through his last years.

  2. Mr. Akehurst,
    Michael McLaren at 2GB would like to interview you about your piece in The Spectator 'Manufactured guilt' either this Friday or Saturday night, please.
    Could you please send me an e-mail?