Overton window, meet my old friend, Momentum.
Father Z weighs in on the Mazza Theory, that Pope Benedict appears to have attempted to separate the Roman See from the Primacy. Whether or not Benedict accomplished this act remains unclear. But the possibility of executing such a separation does appear… possible. Anyway, Fr. Z is a pretty significant voice to be wading into this. Expect more. Many, many more.
“There is nothing holding a Pope in Rome except for custom, property, tradition, international laws, finance, etc. Not theology. In his person a Pope is Vicar of Christ and Successor of Peter whether he is BISHOP of Rome or not.
“In the podcasts, Mazza brings up the debate about Romanitas and the papacy in the 19th c. at the time of Vatican I. Is Romanitas of the very essence of the papacy or not? The answer is: “No.” Mazza checked with Archbp. J. Michael Miller of Vancouver (with whom I used to live in Rome in a clerical residence) about the possibility . Miller had written an amazing doctoral thesis: “The divine right of the papacy in recent ecumenical theology”. There are relevant sections in the thesis about the nature of the papacy. Miller confirmed that it is not wrong to to say that Romanitas is not of the very essence of the papacy, that is, the office of Vicar of Christ as Successor of Peter. It would obviously be of the essence of being Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter in that sense.
“So, cutting though the verbiage. There is a strong argument to be made that Benedict might have intended to renounce the active ministry (office of the Bishop of Rome) while retaining the spiritual ministry (Successor of Peter). Hence, while juridically Francis can be called Bishop of Rome, because he was elected by the “clergy” of Rome (the College of Cardinals), Francis is not, in fact the Successor of Peter on the other, spiritual level, even though he succeeded to the office of bishop that Peter held. The distinction is to be made about Peter qua (insofar as he is) Vicar of Christ and Peter qua (insofar as he is) Bishop of Rome.”