It is nearly three years ago that Pope Benedict shocked the world by his sudden resignation. Probably he believed that he was too infirm and unable to cope. Was it the daily texts from Robert Mickens asking "Aren't you dead yet?" or the fact that every time he met Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor he was given a selection of brochures for retirement homes? Or maybe it was just the regular phone calls from Cardinal Kasper saying "You, Mr Pope, have been specially selected to try out our new range of heresies"?
Whatever it was, Benedict decided to quit, and handed over to a little-known ex-bouncer, ex-chemist and Jesuit called Imbroglio (memo: check spelling), who took the title of Pope Francis the Humble. But then Benedict refused to go away: this was possibly because the Vatican had never thought of providing a pension scheme for retired popes, and so the ex-pontiff was forced to hang around, stealing food from the kitchens.
"I wish he'd move along a bit."
Pope Francis found that, everywhere he went, Benedict was on his tail. His white cassocks were being borrowed by the former Pope - they needed cutting down to size, of course. In fact, the papal vestment issue was already a problem for Francis, after the day he caught Cardinal Vincent Nichols hiding in his wardrobe (Vin had been trying on Francis's spare cassock "just to see whether it would suit me"). Much more of this borrowing, and Francis would be forced to do his papal rounds dressed in jeans and an "I am the Pope" tee-shirt.
Pope Francis's sole victory was over the question of red shoes: luckily his feet are much larger than Benedict's so that the ex-pope has been unable to borrow the papal footwear without a grave danger of tripping over.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of things while you're away, Francis."
Benedict continued to haunt the Vatican. He would get up early and grab the post, so that anything addressed to "The Holy Father" or "The Pope" that did not mention Francis by name would be taken. Pages would mysteriously disappear from Francis's latest encyclical Non salvati estis, ego solus salvatus sum ("You is not saved, only I is saved" in Francis's rather poor English); so that proposals to allow people to marry llamas, to canonize Pinocchio, and to project Reservoir Dogs onto St Peter's Basilica never saw the light of day.
Of course, having two Popes - one retired and one still employed - poses all sorts of constitutional questions. Are they both infallible? What happens if they say contradictory things infallibly? Who takes precedence? For example, should Pope Francis really have pushed his way through the Door of Mercy first, knocking Benedict to the ground?
Who gets to feed the papal rabbit from now on?
It is known (to us insiders) that Benedict, as an art-lover and music-lover, is distinctly unimpressed by the Year of Mercy logo, and the Paul Inwood theme tune. It is said that he tore up the logo, and it was reassembled from the pieces (which is why one of the eyes in missing). Moreover, the Inwood score was also reconstructed (badly) from fragments found in the waste bin. Surprisingly, the jumbled version was considered to be an improvement.
Pope Francis is 79, and also in poor health. What will happen if he also decides to retire? Will Pope Nichols/Tagle/whoever gets the job be haunted by a duo of retired popes, pinching his favourite breakfast cereal and making faces at him in church? The prospect is daunting.