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Vatican archbishop: I do not agree with the title ‘Pope Emeritus’

Pope Francis greets retired Pope Benedict XVI in 2015 (CNS photo)

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, has said he does not agree with calling Benedict XVI “Pope Emeritus’.

Speaking at a presentation of the book Il Papa del coraggio (the Pope of courage) by Italian journalist Mammo Muolo, the archbishop said the title “theologically creates more problems rather than solving them”.

“I respect it, but I will not use it,” he added, saying he would wait for “another expression” to describe the former pontiff.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Benedict XVI said he wanted simply to be known as “Father Benedict” after stepping down as Pope but felt too weak and tired to push the decision through.

Last year, Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura, a close confidant of the former pope, also said he did not agree with the title.

“The uniqueness of the Petrine succession does not allow within it any further distinction or duplication of offices, albeit no longer free in exercise,” he said in an interview with La Stampa.

Despite his reservations over the title, however, Archbishop Fisichella said Benedict XVI’s decision opened a “new horizon” for the papacy, and could lead to future popes doing the same.