When Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, fled to the Vatican in late 2002, he left behind a trail of human and financial wreckage. The actual number of victims, by some estimates, could be nearly three times the number who settled with the Church in 2003. Meanwhile, Law was assigned a comfortable post in Rome, where he disappeared from the headlines.
As Francis has repeated on several occasions, "the Pope emeritus is not a statue in a museum. It is an institution," which "participates in the life of the Church." This new "institution" is a consequence of Benedict's historical resignation on February 11, 2013. It has "opened the door," according to Jorge Bergoglio. Meaning, he could very well do the same.
Nothing can distract you in Santa Martha. When you enter the residence, where the Vatican accommodates some of its visitors, there is no Raphael fresco or Bernini sculptor to catch your eye. Just plain white walls and green plants on a tidily kept marble floor. The outside six-story facade and the inside lobby alike are as neutral and impartial as a clinic. Yet the one you may come across, in the elevator, is Pope Francis. He stays in Room 201 on the second floor. A young cardinal once found himself with the pope suddenly entering the lift. "Holy Father," he said most politely. Francis replied: "Holy Son!" The pope recently explained to journalists that he had insisted on taking the elevator alone, with no one on duty to accompany him: "My life is as normal as I can make it." And as normal as one of a priest, that he wants it to remain.