What does a Retired Pope do? 2 May 2013

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus BenedictPope Benedict XVI became the first Pope to retire from his position in six centuries. This doesn’t leave much precedence by which to answer the question. Having just recently returned to the Italy to live out his retirement, it’s worth making a few educated guesses.

In terms of practicalities, the former Pope will still live in the Vatican. He will be addressed as ‘His Holiness’ and known as Pope Emeritus, Emeritus Pope or Roman Pontifex Emeritus. The Pope has no pension (it was presumed he would serve as Pope till death) but the Vatican is to provide for all his financial needs and a stipend in addition, although the latter is unlikely to be used in any significant way.

Official statements have said he will retire from ‘public life’ and devote his life to ‘prayer’. It is unlikely of course that someone who once wielded such influence over the Catholic Church can ever truly disappear, although the Pope Emeritus will certainly try to do so. As a capable and trained theologian, the Church can most likely expect to see works of theology produced during his quiet retirement.

About Karen Willows

Karen Willows is a researcher and freelance journalist. She has a BA in Religion and Geography and an MA in Social Science Research.

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