Benedict's resignation Feb. 28 creates an awkward situation — the first in 600 years — in which the Catholic Church will have both a reigning pope and a retired one. The Vatican has insisted that Benedict will cease to be pope at exactly 8 p.m. on the historic day, devoting himself entirely to a life of prayer.
But the Vatican confirmed Thursday that Benedict's trusted private secretary, the 56-year-old Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, would remain as his secretary and live with Benedict in his retirement home in the Vatican gardens — as well as remain prefect of the new pope's household.
That dual role would seem to bolster concerns expressed privately by some cardinals that Benedict — by living inside the Vatican and having his aide also working for his successor — would continue to exert at least some influence on the Vatican.
Asked about this apparent conflict of interest, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the prefect's job is very technical, organizing the pope's audiences.
"In this sense it is not a very profound problem," he said.