I have read in a newspaper that Benedict XVI is the first pope emeritus.

Is he really the first pope in history to resign? Or does the title pope emeritus have more specific meaning than just a "pope who has resigned"?

  • I had some doubts whether to ask here or on christianity.SE, But I had to choose one of the two sites, so I've decided to try here. – Martin Apr 10 '15 at 13:59
  • Please read How to Ask with an emphasis on the third bullet under what not to ask. It might also help to read this. Questions that dispute an assertion with no research should be out of scope for H:SE. If you have a reasons to doubt the assertion, please provide it. If you want to discuss the term, please use a discussion forum. – MCW Apr 10 '15 at 17:30
  • Hmmm. I thought we'd had this question, but no. It seems like it ought to have been asked already though, so I'm glad we have it now. :-) – T.E.D. Apr 10 '15 at 19:35
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    @Martin It would have been a duplicate: What Popes have resigned in the past? – frеdsbend Apr 13 '15 at 7:04

No, he is absolutely not the first to resign. There has been several resignations in Papal history, not all of which are undisputed or voluntary, though admittedly none in recent centuries. Some examples include:

Celestine V in particular laid down the canon law basis for popes to abdicate. The current provisions are provided in contained in Canon 332 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

All previous popes who had resigned or abdicated their positions may be justifiably referred to as "pope emeritus", which basically just means "retired pope". In this sense, Benedict XVI is definitely not the first, either.

However, Benedict XVI does seem to be the first to be officially styled "Pope Emeritus".

  • I know when last I looked at it, most such situations came about due to political disputes. What's probably new now is that the advent of modern medicine allows for a situation where the Catholic Church is liable to end up with popes who are unable to fully perform their duties for decades at a time if there isn't some provision for them retiring before death. – T.E.D. Apr 10 '15 at 19:50
  • Oh, I thought Celestine V was the only one, instead! – o0'. Apr 13 '15 at 14:04

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