The story is told that when Jesuit Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach was set to step down as 29th superior general of the Jesuit order, he was asked what work he would do next.
His answer: “Whatever the next superior general tells me.”
I thought of this after learning today that Pope Benedict has decided he will be called “His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman pontiff emeritus,” starting 8 p.m. Thursday Rome time, when he leaves his office. Benedict has also decided he will continue to wear a white cassock, though he will no longer be seen in red shoes.
Alas, brown shoes.
So it seems we will have two white-cassocked prelates inside Vatican walls. Whatever signal this sends out -- in my opinion, not a good one -- it does not seem to be a wise gesture.
There seems to have been more wisdom in Kolvenbach’s approach to retirement.