EWTN Catholic Q&A
What if a pope emeritus outlives successor?
Question from Barbara on 02-28-2013:

Pope Benedict has now resigned, turned over the emblems of office, is now considered Pope Emeritus, and bound to honor the cardinals' choice for pope and be obedient to him. So what if Pope Benedict outlives his successor? I remember when John Paul I was elected and his service was only a few months.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 03-01-2013:


Actually John Paul I reigned for 33 days. As for Benedict XVI, although it is theoretically possible the cardinals could elect him to succeed a successor, it is unlikely because he is already 85 years old (will be 86 in April) and because he has made it clear that he no longer believes he should be pope. My guess is that Benedict himself would take much the same position on the possibility of his re-election as U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman to the possibility of being nominated by his party to run for President: "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers