I could also call this article The Wacko Factor!
Another British conservative press article: Pope Benedict XVI resigns: he won’t be a recluse, so could he divide the Church?
I see the conspiracy theories coming! Thirty years ago I was hearing from some of the more extreme cranks that Our Lady had said in a place called Bayside in the USA during the pontificate of John Paul II that Paul VI was still alive (had been replaced by an impostor until the impostor’s death in August 1978), drugged and kept in some Vatican dungeon. I don’t believe any of this rubbish, but I know that some people will believe just anything.
The scenario seems straightforward. A new Pope will be elected sometime in March, and Bishop/Father/Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger will spend a time at Castel Gandolfo, and then will be unconcerned for anything than living in retirement with his books, piano and cats. It happens in any diocese when the old bishop retires and a new one is appointed. But, the Papacy is enshrouded in irrational belief and the idea of infallibility that has been instilled into Catholic minds for a long time.
I suppose that future Cardinal Ratzinger would be a free man, not a prisoner. There would be media reporters waiting for him at every street corner. Perhaps someone really wicked might have the idea of kidnapping him, pumping him full of sodium penthatol or scopolamine, and making him sing like a canary about all the Vatican secrets! The mind boggles. He is certain not to influence the conclave election as he would not be there, but he would certainly meet the new Pope, and maybe there would be some influence. The prospect seems quite frightening, the possibility of a schism – especially if the new Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger are opposed. It is quite surreal.
How can a former Pope regain his freedom both to come / go and to express himself through writing books? I suppose there will be answers to all these questions, but it will certainly do much to bring the Papacy down to realistic proportions – the Bishop of an ancient Apostolic See and something like one of the Eastern Orthodox patriarchs. It that possibility intended?
The Vatican press officer Fr Lombardi seems assured that Cardinal Ratzinger will fade out of the picture and that all will be business as usual. It makes sense to me, but if enough people latched onto marginal ways of thinking like sede-vacantism, sede-impeditism, sede-privationism and the like, there could be some significant schisms over the brow of the hill.
See this Wikipedia article on Sedevacantism to discover a whole world of the irrational and falsely based intellectual speculation. Also see the Paul VI impostor theory. There is also a colourful theory concerning Cardinal Giuseppe Siri at the conclave that elected John XXIII in 1958. The “Siri Thesis” Unravels and The Pope in Red. That makes for fascinating reading more intriguing than a Clive Cussler novel!
As always, we have the Church of the theologians and the Church of the people. All the same problems come and go, and yet the “bad religion” the Reformation set out to eliminate is still there. It is simply the paganism of the unconverted masses, a problem with Christianity in itself or the replacement of Christianity by something alien and entirely man-made. Or something of our own making without any conspiracy?
Faith and reason, fides et ratio!