Is Benedict XVI the REAL pope? 4 factors fueling Vatican conspiracy theories

benedict xvi

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd during one of his weekly general audiences in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in 2007. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

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When Benedict XVI stunned Catholics by announcing that he would resign, it immediately sparked concerns – which were dismissed just as quickly – that having an ex-pope around could undermine the legitimacy of his successor. Now those fears are emerging again as conservative Catholics continue to express doubts about the agenda of Pope Francis while Benedict remains a player in intrachurch debates.