" I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry…. in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. " - Pope Benedict XIV's announcement of resignation.
The Pope has had a pacemaker for years. He reportedly suffered strokes in 1991 and 2005. He has arthritis in his hips, knees and ankles making it difficult to walk. He has problems with balance and has frequently fallen, most recently last summer when he broke his wrist. And for the past 8 years, he's been carrying a schedule of meetings, ceremonies and global travel that would exhaust a 40-year-old.
If the number of Catholics are declining in Europe, the number is booming in South America, Africa and Asia. Today, the Church with over 1.2 billion members is a global ministry requiring a global presence necessitating frequent travel. The increasing persecution of Christians around the world demands a strong response almost daily. In the 20th century the Papacy has been a bulwark against the tyranny of Nazism and Communism. In the 21st century, the strongest defense of Western values and Christianity against radical Islamism and aggressive secularism has come from Pope Benedict. For that, I began reading closely to what Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict had to say.
When Cardinal Ratzinger gave his speech on the dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires, I was struck to the heart because I recognized myself and how shallow my life was. That's when I decided to explore the God thing in a serious way. Ultimately, Pope Benedict brought me back into the Church. As I began reading Ratzinger and other theologians, I became so impressed with their intelligence, openness, moral seriousness and intellectual coherence, I had to be at least open enough to try it out. So I did and then I experienced extraordinary grace and surrendered to the Great Mystery. For that, I have profound gratitude to Benedict personally.
I admired Pope John Paul II, but I loved Pope Benedict. For the clarity of his teaching, for his intellectual fearlesssness, for his emphasis on reason and for showing the mind is a way to God, for bringing back the Latin Mass and more and better sacred music, indeed for showing us that art and the saints are the greatest evangelists, for his ecumenism and the ordinates for Anglicans, for his delight in the young, for embracing the digital world to evangelize the culture, and for his calm joy, spiritual simplicity and great love.
I was first dumbfounded, then saddened when I learned of Benedict's resignation. The shock was like learning of a sudden death. But, a day later, I'm grateful and happy that he will live on in monastic seclusion where he will have plenty of rest and time for prayer, more writing and playing his piano.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, was present at the consistory when Pope Benedict announced his resignation and responded, “We have heard you with a sense of astonishment, almost in disbelief…"Your Pontificate Will Shine Like a Star".
Startled by his resignation, Timothy Cardinal Dolan said
"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter." —
The Anchoress has the best roundups. Her first Benedict Announces Retirement (It’s what he WOULD do!)
If John Paul went out like the sustained note of a grand organ, fading into silence, Benedict simply senses his tiredness and the hour, closes up his piano, and bids us adieu. Ratzinger, in the end, is still Ratzinger: he does his work, kisses it all up to the Holy Spirit and moves on, not particularly concerned about the peripheral yakking of man or media.
Her second. First — best comment of the day; “Pope joins Twitter. Loses interest in job.”
I think part of the reason some people have had trouble processing what Benedict is doing — aside from the fact that we’ve never seen this in our lifetimes — is that we have become so habitually ironic that we don’t know how else to be. But even irony has grown stale. Only authenticity can still surprise us, and being shaken from our torpor today suggests that authenticity has been in short supply. That can’t be a good thing.
Wall Street Journal's Andrew Nagorski: The Pope Who Made History in His Leaving
This fundamentally conservative pope has taken a bold step that is truly exemplary. Not only his successors but any number of religious and secular leaders would do well to keep his precedent in mind as they contemplate how long they should stay in office.
In The London Telegraph The pope who was not afraid to say sorry
Pope Benedict XVI was a courageous pontiff who made a sincere attempt to restore the good name of the Church.
In January 2009, for instance, he wrote to every Catholic bishop in the world to confess to his own mishandling of the case of Bishop Richard Williamson
The Reason Benedict Resigned William Fahey
Benedict XVI has marked his pontificate by humility. If anything, he has tried to depersonalize the use of authority, even that uniquely personal authority, the Petrine Office. Yet we must always remember that the “person” of the Papal ministry is St. Peter, who with his successors acts in the person of Christ. The papacy is a lived authority and a living authority and one that must respond to the needs of the Age.
The Holy Father’s reasons for resignation spring from a grave sense of office and a faithful belief in what that office truly is. He has remained through his pontificate faithful and true to his vocation of father and teacher. Both father and teacher must daily put aside themselves to be true to their calling.
"I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.."
Samuel Gregg in the National Review
Ever since I started writing about Joseph Ratzinger in the late 1990s, two qualities about the man impressed me. The first was his quiet but clear love of Christ as a living Person rather than the vague abstraction of liberal, often atheist theologians. The second was Ratzinger’s genuine humility.
Which brings me to what I think will be this great Pope’s last legacy….. arguably the most intellectual pope to sit in Peter’s Chair for centuries…..As Benedict spelt out in four key addresses that repay careful re-reading—the famous 2006 Regensburg lecture, his 2008 address to the French intellectual world, his speech to the Bundestag in 2011, and his remarks to the world of British politics in 2010 in Westminster Hall (the site, not coincidentally, of St Thomas More’s show-trial in 1535)—man, especially Western man, has lost confidence in reason’s power to know more-than-empirical truth.
And what’s the result? It means very basic discussions in the realms of politics and universities are no longer conducted along the lines identified long ago by figures such as Aristotle and Aquinas. Instead it’s all about power, who is stronger, and who can evoke the highest degree of sentimental humanitarianism from people looking for guidance in increasingly incoherent societies.
David Goldman, ‘I Have a Mustard Seed, and I’m Not Afraid to Use It’
Pope Benedict's commitment to theological truth as he understood it at the expense of political correctness is unique among today's religious leaders….The West has lost a great spiritual leader. We will be hard put to find another like him.
Andrew Klavan, Turn Out the Lights of Europe When You Leave, Pope
I think Joseph Ratzinger — aka Pope Benedict XVI — is one of the greatest men of the age — possibly the only great man of the age — and almost certainly the last great man Europe will produce. As far as I’m concerned, he should turn the continent’s lights out as he steps down at the end of the month.
The Vatican Insider The Opus Dei and Benedict XVI’s “silent clean-up" operation
Richard Fernandez discusses the possibility the new Pope will be a non-European in After Benedict
the identification of Christianity with Europe is over now. And perhaps Benedict will be remembered a herald of that sea-change.Posted by Jill Fallon at February 12, 2013 2:08 PM | Permalink
One immediate effect of the broken linkage is that it will no longer be possible to depict Christianity as a “white man’s” or “colonial” religion. The only people who will continue to parrot that line will be those on the Left who after all live mostly in the past. But more importantly it will allow Christianity to sharpen the distinctions between itself and the only indigenous world-religion of Europe: Marxism and its derivatives.
For Christianity is fundamentally at philosophical opposition to the zeitgeist of the PC West. Thus, newly freed, the way will lie open to a debate over such things as the nature of truth, the sacredness of human life, the possibility of transcendence. Such questions can be openly discussed again