Future title for Benedict XVI
There is finally an answer to one of the most popular questions. Once the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI goes into effect on February 28 at 8 p.m. local time in Rome, he will still be addressed as “Your Holiness Benedict XVI.”
According to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the President for the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the same procedure will apply to the Pope as with other bishops and archbishops. After that date, Benedict XVI will be referred to as the Bishop Emeritus of Rome.
A Professor of Canon Law at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr. James Conn SJ, explained to Vatican Radio that, from that moment, the governance of the Church through the organs of the Roman Curia goes into an administrative holding pattern, which lasts until the election of a new Bishop of Rome, who, by virtue of his office, shall be the Church’s Universal Pastor. “There is an important canonical principle with regard to any sede vacante, [which is]: sede vacante nihil innovetur – ‘There is to be no innovation during a vacancy’ of any see. That principle [holds], and the College of Cardinals, all of them, would be the administrator of the Apostolic See in its vacancy.”