The move seems to be an attempt by Francis to clear up any ambiguity about the pontiff's power to replace prelates around the world.
Pope Francis on Monday waded into the controversial debate over the origins of human life, saying the big bang theory did not contradict the role of a divine creator, but even required it.
The pope was addressing the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which gathered at the Vatican to discuss "Evolving Concepts of Nature."
"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.
Retired Pope Benedict XVI is a perfect example of how intellectual knowledge and scientific curiosity do not lead a person further from God, but can strengthen their love for God and for his human creatures, Pope Francis said.
"Benedict XVI was a great pope," he said: "Great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his considerable contribution to theology, great for his love for the church and for human beings, great for his virtues and his religiosity."
Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures.
Pope Francis praised Blessed Paul VI as a "humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church" at Paul's beatification Mass on Sunday.
Making a Difference: True respect for life requires us to get out of our comfort zone. Do you respect life in all arenas, or just one?
A Roman Observer: For his first column, Robert Mickens, a longtime Vatican observer, tells us what to expect when the synod on the family opens this weekend.
Pope Francis warned against the abandonment and neglect of the elderly, calling it a "hidden euthanasia" rooted in today's "poisonous" culture of disposal and an economic system of greed.
In the presence of his predecessor, Pope Francis also thanked retired Pope Benedict XVI for staying to live at the Vatican and being like "a wise grandfather at home."
"A people who don't take care of their grandparents and don't treat them well is a people with no future. Why no future? Because they lose the memory [of the past] and they sever their own roots," he said.
Making a Difference: We need to quickly move toward and heavily invest in clean, safe and renewable alternative sources of energy, like wind, solar and geothermal.
Analysis: Eight years after Pope Benedict XVI's lecture in which he seemed to diagnose Islam as flawed, some of his allies are saying, "He told you so."