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Our readersFebruary 16, 2023
pope benedict talks in one of his general audiencesPope Benedict XVI delivers his talk during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 20, 2011. Pope Benedict died Dec. 31, 2022, at the age of 95 in his residence at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

America published a number of articles commemorating the life and passing of Benedict XVI, the first pope to abdicate the chair of St. Peter in hundreds of years. In the February editorial, the editors recognized both his accomplishments and the more controversial aspects of his papacy, noting in particular his resignation as “a stunning historical development” that “required wisdom and courage.” At the time of his resignation, Benedict asked “pardon for my defects” and said his “strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited for an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” Our readers offered a variety of perspectives on Benedict and his ministry.


Respectfully, while Benedict may well have been a “humble laborer” as pope, his actions leading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are hard to reconcile with the post-feudal church many of us hoped had been set in motion by Pope John XXIII. For example, Benedict’s “Dominus Iesus” largely dismissed the legitimacy of other faiths, as did his subsequent ban of the Jesuit theologian Roger Haight. Moreover, his actions at C.D.F. emboldened and enabled the reactionary cadre of bishops in the United States who continue to sow division among their peers, Catholics and our fellow citizens.
Ed Dailey

I pray God is merciful to Benedict in eternity. I am grateful for his courage to resign, which gave the church Francis.

What a blessing to have had two great popes (St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI). Benedict will be a saint and deservedly so. I encourage those who don’t like or know him to read his words. They are incredible. Don’t believe the partisan propaganda. Santo subito!
Pat Carington

As a clerical abuse survivor, I see Benedict as a controversial and complex figure in the life of the church. I commend him for his extraordinary intellect, theological prowess and for meeting with victims a few years into his papacy. But in the same vein, he looked the other way when it came to the hierarchy for years as head of the C.D.F. and as archbishop of Munich and Freising. His forcing of my friend Tom Reese, S.J.—a real truth-teller in the church regarding the [sexual abuse] scandal—out from leading America magazine has always given me pause. What was he afraid of? I pray God is merciful to Benedict in eternity. I am grateful for his courage to resign, which gave the church Francis.
Mark Williams

No one should be canonized until several decades after his or her death, since every detail of everyone’s life comes out in modern times.

I hope there’s no rush to canonize Pope Benedict. He has a very mixed legacy, especially concerning sexual abuse cover-up allegations in Germany. No one should be canonized until several decades after his or her death, since every detail of everyone’s life comes out in modern times.
Pamela Berdanier

Why is no one writing articles about how Benedict [investigated the Leadership Conference of Women Religious]? Major communities were put through hell for several years during his reign trying to prove how they served God. It was horrible what he and his bishops did to these holy women. I will never forget it!
Jean Hansen

I appreciate the ministry of both of these popes (Benedict and Francis). I am of the belief that God sends those who are necessary for each particular moment of salvation history. I hope that a pope’s agenda is God’s agenda for us as a people. If I look to Pope Benedict, an intellectual, I see a man that brought to light the whys of church teachings. There are a lot of Catholics out there who are lacking in this regard, which makes them very vulnerable to media disinformation. Pope Francis places those teachings into our everyday life, particularly in teaching us about how to encounter each other and how to respect the natural world that we are an integral part of. Both were needed. If their agenda doesn’t match our expectations, then we just might need to open our hearts to change through prayer.
Christine Gall

Benedict was truly a doctor of the church. A clear thinker, a man devoid of ambiguity and foolish off-the-cuff remarks. A great man. The church was blessed to have had the miraculous papacies of both St. John Paul II and (hopefully soon) St. Benedict XVI. They were the true embodiment of Vatican II. Both men will be read, studied and remembered for centuries to come.

Let us pray for clear teaching and unambiguous truth. It is what the world needs now more than ever. Truth, clarity and, most importantly, the call for all men to return to Jesus. Santo subito!
Marcus McMaster

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