Bp Paprocki & March Madness: How to Address B16 After Feb. 28


Bishop Thomas John Paprocki [STL, JD, JCD] of Springfield in Illinois sent around the following canonical analysis on what to call Pope Benedict when he leaves office on February 28th. He has graciously allowed me to post them for those of us engaged in a different sort of March Madness.

Since Pope Benedict’s surprise announcement last week, there has been much discussion about what to call a Pope who steps down from office. The confusion is understandable since a Pope has not left office alive for almost 600 years. It might even be said that a Pope has never stepped down quite under these circumstances in the 2,000 year history of the Church.

What seems to have been overlooked so far in these discussions is that the word “Pope” does not appear in the Code of Canon Law. Canon 331 defines the office held by the Pope: “The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the of­fice given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, first of the Apostles, and to be trans­mitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of the uni­versal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is al­ways able to exercise freely.” Read more here.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Dr. Pia de Solenni is a moral theologian and cultural analyst. She is an expert in issues relating to women’s health, life issues, the new feminism, Catholicism, and culture. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter, and National Review Online. An international expert, she has given popular and academic talks to a variety of audiences, including lay, clergy and the hierarchy. Dr. de Solenni has appeared on MSNBC, “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, “The O’Reilly Factor”, CNN, ABCNews, among others. Dr. de Solenni has been quoted in newspapers nationwide, including The New York Times, The Washington Times, and The Associated Press. Dr. de Solenni received her doctorate in sacred theology summa cum laude from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome. Her dissertation was published in the university series Dissertationes. On Nov 8, 2001, she received the 2001 Award of the Pontifical Academies for her doctoral work. The award was presented by John Paul II. Dr. de Solenni resides in Seattle, Washington.

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