That’s the argument—pretty good one too—reported in this article from Chiesa.
Not One Pope But Two, One “Active” and One “Contemplative”
It is the unprecedented innovation that Ratzinger seems to want to put into practice. It has been announced by his secretary, Georg Gänswein. Redoubling the already abundant ambiguities of the pontificate of Francis
ROME, June 17, 2016 – The revolution of Pope Francis is turning the Church upside-down. But his meek predecessor named Benedict is not to be outdone.
The resignation of the papacy was not his last act. Already in his withdrawal from the see of Peter, in that memorable February of 2013, Joseph Ratzinger made sure to say that in his election as pope there had been something that would remain “forever.”
In fact, he continues to wear the white tunic, continues to sign himself “Benedictus XVI, pope emeritus,” continues to use the coat of arms with the two Petrine keys, continues to live “in the enclosure of Saint Peter,” continues to have himself called “Holiness” and “Holy Father.”
And most recently the archbishop in closest contact with him, Georg Gänswein, has told us that Benedict “has by no means abandoned the office of Peter,” but on the contrary has made it “an expanded ministry, with an active member and a contemplative member,” in “a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a shared ministry”.
These staggering statements from Gänswein, made on May 20 in the aula magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University, have sown dismay among Ratzinger’s admirers themselves. Because no one doubts that they correspond to his thought and were authorized by him. But no one would have expected from him such an unheard-of act of rupture in the history of the papacy, totally without precedent, “a sort of exception willed by Heaven,” as Gänswein himself has called it, after a pontificate that is also “exceptional,” an “Ausnahmepontifikat.”
The absolute innovation is not the resignation, but the sequel.
When on December 13, 1294 Celestine V announced his abandonment of the pontificate, as the story goes “he came down from the throne, took the tiara from his head and put it on the floor; and mantle and ring and all he took off in front of the astonished cardinals,” aftfer which he went back to being an ordinary monk, in complete withdrawal from the world.
This is what even the most authoritative of Catholic canonists, the Jesuit Gianfranco Ghirlanda, envisioned in “La Civiltà Cattolica” immediately after the resignation announcement of Benedict XVI: that he would indeed remain a bishop, more properly “bishop emeritus of Rome,” in that sacred ordination is an indelible act, but would “lose all his power of primacy, because this did not come to him from episcopal consecration but directly from Christ through the acceptance of legitimate election.”
But then Ratzinger’s behavior contradicted this order of things.
And right away appeared some who justified him theoretically. Like the other canonist Stefano Violi, who maintains that Benedict XVI did not by any means renounce the office of Peter, but only his active exercise of governance and magisterium, keeping for himself the exercise of prayer and compassion. Precisely what Gänswein gave as fact one month ago: a double papacy “with an active member and a contemplative member,” Francis and Benedict, “almost a shared ministry.”