Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict Resigns

I awoke to breaking news. What had happened to Pope Benedict?

He decided to resign???

I feared he suffered some catastrophic health crisis that would prompt him to make such a dramatic move, one not done in nearly 600 YEARS.

No, it wasn't that.

Why would the Pope, who just starting tweeting to the faithful two months ago, suddenly step aside?

Read: "The unexpected announcement that rang out in the Concistory Hall"

From John Moody, FOX News:

He never had a chance.

From the moment he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s on April 19, 2005, to greet the faithful, Benedict XVI faced an insurmountable problem: He was not John Paul II.

Benedict’s decision to resign the papacy is being blamed on his age – nearly 86 – and his health – never robust. He might just as well have been diagnosed with a broken papal heart.

Because his nearly eight years on the Throne of the Fisherman never really produced the results he hoped for. He did not unite the conservative and progressive wings of the Catholic Church. He did not re-establish its place in Europe, the work of a previous Pope Benedict and the reason he took that name. Nor did he expand its foothold in Asia, cement its dominance in Latin America, or make serious inroads in Africa. And he did not bring to fruition the ecumenical understanding with other major faiths that he hoped would bloom during his reign.

...Benedict’s meek initial outings were public relations meltdowns. His smile, though genuine, looked somehow sinister, as if he were about to bite his audience. Determined to restore the Church’s luster in Europe, where it is often treated like a dotty old aunt, Benedict gave a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006 that appeared to denigrate Islam. The non-Catholic world howled; the Vatican cringed and apologized.

On his first visit to the U.S. as pope, Benedict offered contrite apologies for the Church’s ham-handed treatment of the U.S. church’s sex scandal involving its priests. Even the pope’s humble mien did not satisfy some, who pronounced him cold and unfeeling toward the plight of victims of clergy abuse. He joined the Twitterati, but his first attempt was a sterile: “I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. I bless all of you from my heart.” At least he stayed under 140 characters.

In nearly eight years, Benedict issued three encyclicals – direct messages to the faithful that often reveal a pope’s enthusiasms and interests. Benedict’s first – entitled “God is Love” -- is a caressing, simply worded, logic-based reassurance that our Lord loves us. Yet even his writing about love suffers in comparison with John Paul’s towering, intellectual yet intimate canon of work.

None of which lessens Benedict’s place in the line of Vicars of Christ. His decision to resign was a brave one, based on personal humility, in keeping with his message to the faithful that the things of Earth are transient, but the promise of heaven lasting and infinite. For that he should be remembered.
I think that's a rather unfair assessment. Moody makes Pope Benedict sound like a failure, let alone being lost in Pope John Paul II's shadow.

Catholics had spent years watching Pope John Paul II's health decline. He was no less loved and respected.

Yes, Pope Benedict was an old man when he began his papacy. No rational person could have expected him to have the vigor of the young John Paul.

For a much more accurate assessment of Pope Benedict's legacy, here's the statement from Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Pope Benedict's resignation on Febraury 28:

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.

Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, and Spain.

He delighted our beloved United States of America when he visited Washington and New York in 2008. As a favored statesman he greeted notables at the White House. As a spiritual leader he led the Catholic community in prayer at Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As a pastor feeling pain in a stirring, private meeting at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, he brought a listening heart to victims of sexual abuse by clerics.

Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.

He unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church. More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity.

He spoke for the world’s poor when he visited them and wrote of equality among nations in his peace messages and encyclicals. He pleaded for a more equitable share of world resources and for a respect for God’s creation in nature.

Those who met him, heard him speak and read his clear, profound writings found themselves moved and changed. In all he said and did he urged people everywhere to know and have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

The occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s world.
I am stunned that Pope Benedict would make this announcement now, given that he hasn't suffered a dramatic, sudden decline in health.

We are just two days away from the beginning of Lent and the holiest of days.

I don't know why he would leave at this time. Why not wait until after Easter?

There's an uncertainty that is disquieting.

Hey, Catholics, we're giving up the Pope for Lent!

This makes me sad and uncomfortable. It's all just so odd.

I don't want him to step aside. However, I trust it is the right decision. I believe Pope Benedict's resignation is a selfless, brave act. He obviously feels he lacks the stamina to do what's best for the flock. I suppose what he wants and needs to do doesn't match what he's physically able to do.

I wonder what his role will be after the next pope is elected. That's uncharted territory. I'm sure this humble man won't seek the spotlight or in any way undercut the new pope's authority.

This is really weird.

I'll miss Pope Benedict. He's a gentle, wise, loving, holy man. He was no failure in my eyes.

As Cardinal Dolan wrote, I thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict.


Read Cardinal Egan's statement on the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Not surprisingly, the Catholic bashing is running rampant today.

CNN Uses Resignation News to Trash Pope, Catholic Church

Celebrities Pile on Pope Benedict XVI in Resignation Wake

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