[The comparison of the teachings of the First Vatican Council with Maria Divine Mercy's messages, which was previously a part of this post, has been made into its own post: see here.]
Maria Divine Mercy's messages depict the "keys of Rome" as a symbol of the papacy (see here), (though it was the "keys to the kingdom of heaven" which Christ gave Peter when instituting the papacy, not the "keys of Rome"). Throughout the past couple of years, the messages have oddly depicted a sort of game of "hot potato" with the "keys of Rome" between Benedict XVI, God the Father, and Chris Jesus:
- First of all, it took eight months for them to get the game going. Although we were allegedly told by Christ on June 6, 2011 that "the keys of Rome will now be handed back to God the Almighty Father" by Benedict, we were finally told by the Virgin Mary on March 20, 2012, "The keys of Rome have been returned to my Father," then
- On February 17, 2013, Christ tells us, "The keys of Rome are now within my hands having been passed to me by my Father," then
- On February 19, 2013, Christ tells us, "The keys of Rome are now under the command of my beloved Father", indicating that he had apparently passed them back to the Father, and...
- To top it all off, we were recently told on July 22, 2013 by the "Mother of Salvation", "There can only be one Head of the Church on Earth, authorised by my son, who must remain Pope until his death." So apparently the keys have been handed back to Benedict XVI, who, according to the message, must still be pope since he hasn't died yet.
According to the Code of Canon Law, a pope may indeed resign from the papacy and thus, upon the effective date of his resignation, not be pope anymore though still alive: "If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone" (Canon 332, Section 2). Since a pope cannot resign once he is dead, it must be assumed that a pope would resign his papacy while he is still alive, and, thus, upon resigning, is both no longer pope and still alive.
When he announced his resignation on February 11, 2013, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made it clear that he would no longer be pope upon the effective moment of his resignation:
"Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is." (Declaratio, February 11, 2013)
This is yet another circumstance in which we are faced with taking Maria Divine Mercy at her word or Benedict at his. Because according to Maria Divine Mercy, Benedict "must remain Pope until his death". But Benedict stated that as of the effective moment of his resignation on February 28, 2013 at 20:00 hours, "the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked." And, as before, this is an instance in which we should take Pope Emeritus Benedict's word over Maria Divine Mercy's.
UPDATE [2-25-14]: Benedict himself recently wrote that any speculations that he was still pope were "simply absurd". (See here.)