Antonio Socci quotes Cardinal Müller the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith speaking to Vatican Radio's German language station.
Something similar could be said today of the Vatican. Perhaps it is also this aura of secrecy - in addition to the solemnity and beauty of the "location" - that a [TV] series, as banal and surreal like "The young pope" is so successfull.
Much more exciting than the [TV] fiction are the mysteries of the real Vatican. Where, for the first time in Church history, a pope - after months of heavy attacks - "resigned" (for unknown reasons), but in fact remaining pope.
A Vatican where today two popes live, without anyone explaining how this is possible, since it has always been taught that there can be only one Successor of Peter.
[A Vatican] Where - probably - something important is happening these days behind the impenetrable silence of the sacred palaces.
Unfortunately, the media has seemed, for a while, uninterested in information about the Church and the Holy See, perhaps because they are too busy in the celebrations and the "hosannas".
The fact is that no one, at least in Italy, seems to have noticed an explosive interview with the number 2 of the Church, Cardinal. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the role held by Card. Ratzinger at the time of John Paul II).
It was Benedict XVI who called him there [at the CDF] and later Francis confirmed him there and made him a Cardinal. However, because of deep divergences on doctrinal reforms wanted by Francis in the two synods on the family, relations between the two have led to the substantial isolation of Müller respect to Francis's executive team.
Therefore Müller, who is also the editor of the complete works of Ratzinger, the day before yesterday gave an interview to the German version of Vatican Radio where, the first time, a top Vatican official poses the problem of the coexistence of the two popes, and where he meekly reveals that there is an ongoing debate beyond the Tiber [ie at the Vatican] where, he proposes a surprising scenario will take place.
The Cardinal said:
"For the first time in the history of the Church we have the case of two legitimate living popes. Certainly only Pope Francis is THE Pope, but Benedict is the emeritus, so somehow he is still tied to the papacy. This unprecedented situation needs to be addressed theologically and spiritually. On how to do it, there are different opinions. I have shown that even with all the diversity that relate to the person and the character - which are given by nature - that the internal link must also be made visible. "
But - the journalist asks - what does "this inner connection" consist of? Müller's answer:
"This is to profess [to proclaim the faith in] Jesus Christ, Who is the 'ratio essendi ', the true foundation of the papacy, Who holds the Church together in the unity in Christ ... ".
It seems an abstract , theological, answer, but it actually refers to Muller's words earlier, making us understand that the "Petrine ministry" of Benedict XVI continues still. Something that is confirmed in the continuation of the interview
In fact, the journalist asks: "What do two popes together offer the Church?" (two who are popes simultaneously)?
"Both exercise an office that they didn't give to themselves, nor are they able to define: an office that is already 'defined' by Christ Himself, as it has been understood by the believing conscience of the Church. And each man experiences within the papal office - as in every other ecclesial office - a weight that one can only bear with the help of grace. "
These are surprising words. Because here Müller does not at all say - as has so far been heard - that Benedict XVI is basically no longer Pope, he does not say at all that is a pensioner who has no role in the Church, he does not say at all that he is something similar to the "bishops emeriti," as Pope Bergoglio affirms.
He [Muller] says, that Francis and Benedict XVI, "both exercise an office" that is the "Papal office". And he says that this unprecedented situation, of "two legitimate living popes", "needs to be addressed theologically and spiritually. "
Therefore Müller seems to be going in the same direction as in the sensational conference, on 21 May, at the Gregorian [University in Rome], of Msgr. Georg Gänswein, secretary of Benedict XVI and the Prefect of the Pontifical Household of Francis.
In that talk, which had an explosive effect in the Vatican (but the Press ignored it), Gänswein said among other things:
"Before and after his resignation, Benedict has understood and understands his task as a participation in the 'Petrine' Ministry. He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step [he took] on 11 February 2013, did not abandon this Ministry at all. Instead, he integrated the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a ministry in common. "
"Since the election of his successor Francesco on March 13, 2013, there are not, then, two popes, but 'de facto' there is an expanded ministry, with an active member and a contemplative member. This is why Benedict XVI has not given up his name, nor the white cassock. For this the proper form with which to address him is still 'Holiness'; and for this, also, he did not retire to a monastery in isolation, but he is within the Vatican, as if he had only made a step to the side to make room for his successor and for a new stage in the history of the papacy. "
Therefore, not a step backwards, but only a step to the side. The Bishop Conference. Gänswein was explosive, but one had to wait a couple of months to get a reaction: an interview with a canonist of the Curia, where Gänswein was never mentioned, which entitled : "A shared papacy cannot exist "
The 'Bergoglian' journalist Andrea Tornielli, author of this interview, began by saying that Francis himself had already replied: " 'There is only one pope. Benedict XVI is the Emeritus'. Last June, during the return flight from Armenia, Francis had responded in a clear and precise manner to a question on the theories concerning the possibility of a 'shared' papal ministry.
If the pope had already responded what need was there to also get a canonist talking two months later? Perhaps because the matter was not at all closed? maybe because - as Müller says today - "there are different opinions"?
In fact the previous statements of Msgr. Gänswein and the statements of Card. Müller today, demonstrate that the issue is entirely open.
But above all it was Benedict XVI himself to open the issue, not only with choice of an emeritus papacy, but also with the words of his last speech, where he explained that the Petrine ministry was "forever" in his life and added: "My decision to give up the active exercise of the ministry, does not revoke this fact".
Then in his recent best-selling book, "Last Conversations", Pope Benedict dedicated a page to explain his current situation and he did this with a few sober words, but in perfect congruity with the intervention of his secretary in may and with that of Müller. He says that his was not "an escape, but another way to remain true to my ministry." And he adds that he continues to be pope "in a deeper, more intimate, sense".
Today Müller says that "the internal link" that ties the two popes together and binds them to guard the "Depositim Fidei" (that is to defend the Catholic Faith) , "must be made visible"
Maybe it's a lifeboat that Benedict is offering to Francis, in order to help him to continue his work, but remaining within the railroad tracks of orthodoxy - thus avoiding bad choices (and Bergoglio makes many of them) and tragic schisms.
In light of all this one better understands the collaborative tones that Benedict uses with Francis in his book; and also the new volume[book] by Muller attempts to reconcile the two pontificates under the title "Benedict & Francis. Successors of Peter at the Church's service "