But, Walsh added, "what I don't understand is that he says he wants to be part of it all, which could be disastrous if you take it at face value," referring to Benedict's promise not to abandon the church.
"The notion that you have two people that claim to be pope, in a sense, is really going to be very confusing," Walsh said.
Vatican officials have said they don't anticipate any interference from Benedict as a new pope takes office.
However, his influence will be felt in as much as he appointed 67 of the cardinals who will enter the conclave.
Whoever his successor may be will have plenty on his plate, from allegations swirling in the Italian media that gay clergy may have made themselves vulnerable to blackmail by male prostitutes -- a claim forcefully denied by the Vatican -- to the festering issue of the church's handling of child abuse by priests.
Scandal flared again over the weekend, as Scotland's Roman Catholic archbishop was accused in a UK newspaper report of "inappropriate behavior" with priests. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who contests the allegations, resigned Monday and said he would not attend the conclave.
The Most Rev. Philip Tartaglia, archbishop of Glasgow, will take his place until a new archbishop is appointed, the Vatican said Wednesday. "These are painful and distressing times," Tartaglia is quoted as saying.
The Vatican said Monday that a report by three cardinals into leaks of secret Vatican documents, ordered by Benedict last year and seen only by him, would be passed on to the new pontiff.
Meanwhile, the cardinals who must elect the new pope are already gathering in Rome, Lombardi said.
The dean cardinal will on Friday summon the cardinals to a general congregation, Lombardi said. That could come as soon as Monday, although the date is not yet fixed.
The cardinal-electors will then decide exactly when to hold the conclave, during which they will select a peer via paper ballot. The voting process will end when only when one cardinal gains two-thirds support.
After his resignation, Benedict, who cited the frailty of age as the reason he resigned, will no longer use the Fisherman's Ring, the symbol of the pope, Lombardi said. The ring will be destroyed, along with Benedict's papal seal, after his departure from office.