You've just tuned into St. Corbinian's Bear Ephemeris to see Bobby Ewing in the shower. For those unfamiliar with 1970s American television trivia, the popular prime time soap opera Dallas killed off a major character, Bobby Ewing.
Imagine viewers' surprise in a subsequent season to find Bobby Ewing, in the shower, as if nothing had happened. Indeed, it turned out that the entire ninth season was another character's dream.
|Bobby Ewing in the shower: it was all a dream.|
So, just when you thought things could not get any weirder, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is Pope Emeritus Benedict's personal secretary as well as prefect of the pontifical household dropped a bombshell. Gänswein, who ought to know, after all, announced during a speech on May 20th to the Pontifical Gregorian University, that Francis did not replace Benedict after all. Instead, we now have an "expanded" petrine ministry, with an "active member" and a "contemplative." Edward Pentin writing for the National Catholic Register goes on to report:
[Gänswein] therefore stressed that since Francis’ election, there are not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member.” He added that this is why Benedict XVI “has not given up his name”, unlike Pope Celestine V who reverted to his name Pietro da Marrone, “nor the white cassock.”
“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.”
Archbishop Gänswein repeated that Benedict’s resignation was “quite different” to that of Pope Celestine V.
You can read more about why Pope Benedict's imagined division of labor is impossible at aka catholic.
So, wake up, sleepyhead! The last three years have all been a dream. Benedict's attempted division of labor between two co-popes was a nullity ab initio. Therefore, he never resigned according to any reasonable definition of "resignation." Looking back, the white outfit and lame excuse that it was the only thing he had to wear should have tipped us off.
This sounds crazy, but it sure looks like Benedict's resignation failed, which looks like it nullifies Jorge Bergoglio's election.
The Bear would observe that Pope Benedict's old Archdiocese of Munich-Freising first belonged to St. Corbinian. Pope Benedict has spoken fondly of the St. Corbinian's Bear of legend. It may be that he somehow absorbed a Bearish delight in elaborate jokes and unpredictable behavior. What a finale! This Bear salutes the old white bear.
However, you would have to be smoking peyote to imagine that the Catholic Church is going to say the last three seasons were just a dream, and nothing Jorge Bergoglio said or did counts. Wait for the spin to smooth out Archbishop Gänswein's comments. The Bear is also cautious to make too much about what this looks like when there are probably canon law considerations that bear on the issue. All law everywhere values finality as much as correctness. Three years is a long to time to permit serious contemplation of some Back to the Future scenario.
But feel free to indulge in some innocent fantasies. Those are best kept to ourselves.