A Vatican ceremony on June 28 marked the 65th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It featured a rare joint appearance by Pope Francis and his predecessor that seemed aimed at tamping down speculation prompted by the unusual circumstance that there are two living popes. In recent weeks debate has erupted over whether the two popes are sharing authority in the church or whether Francis is the sole successor of St. Peter. But Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is “clearly” a retired pope, Francis said during an in-flight press conference on his return to Rome on June 26 from Armenia, adding, “There is one single pope.” Francis recounted how Benedict has shooed away conservative supporters who come complaining about his reformist papacy. His predecessor reinforced that dynamic at the celebration, offering an endorsement of the course Francis has charted for the church. “We hope that you can go forward with all of us on this path of divine mercy, showing us the path of Jesus toward God,” said the retired pope.
One Pope at a Time