It is revealing the different decisions made by saints and popes facing similar conditions. The uniqueness of each human being reflects how God guides each conscience through his/her own path when discerning and making serious life decisions. Benedict XVI’s historic resignation shows the Spirit leading the church. The mystery of the future is just that, the mystery of God’s plan.
The Christocentric depth, beauty and deep spirituality of the pope’s theological writing continues to take my breath away and has been instrumental in opening a door to Jesus, so long blocked for me. I had not expected it. Reading his original work was an encounter with the “author of life” this pope unfailingly loves.
I think the resignation in many ways reflects a return by the pope to an earlier stage in his ecclesiology, for it fits perfectly with the reformed vision of the church’s future that he sketched in his 1969 radio address, “What Will the Church Look Like in 2000?” This post-conciliar vision of reform saw times of both crisis and renewal ahead for the church, which would issue in a smaller yet holier institution. It would be a church that shed its arrogant claims to worldly greatness in the pursuit of a humility born of the meeting with Christ at its heart and soul. As our Lord reminds us, faith need not be physically large to be fruitful, for the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.
There is hardly a situation that occurs in the life of man that Shakespeare has not summarized in a phrase. I paraphrase Malcolm’s words in Macbeth: “Nothing in his papacy became him like the leaving it. He resigned as one that had been studied in his resignation to sign away the highest role a priest can aspire to as if his talents were not up to the task”(Act I, Scene IV).
I always considered that as a good German, this pope would doggedly do his duty as a pastor. This may be his finest hour. The rest of the story must be handed over to the Spirit; we have to pray that the human instruments listen to the Spirit and not make it into a Curial football match.
After Feb. 28, will Cardinal Ratzinger (formerly known as Pope Benedict XVI) kiss the new papal ring? This would be the ultimate act of humility.
How interesting that there is no mention here of what many Catholics will most remember about his papacy—his total and absolute failure to hold a single bishop accountable for enabling child abuse and protecting the abusers. Instead, he often promoted bishops who were involved in protecting criminal priests.
I’m truly sad that Pope Benedict is stepping down. How fast almost eight years have passed since his election as pope after the sad days that followed the death of Pope John Paul II. God bless him. I can only imagine what a difficult decision it must have been for Pope Benedict XVI to resign, but he more than anybody understands the brutal challenges the church is facing in the very near future that demand a healthy and younger man. Let’s pray this Lent that Christ and Mary give the church a young and vibrant Peter ready to kick some sense into a manic world.
The resignation is a sign of wisdom. Moving “a stone’s throw away” from the Petrine cathedra itself...not so much.
The tribute to Pope Benedict XVI by James Martin, S.J., is accurate and substantive and certainly reflects a perspective that all who love the church should remember. There can be no doubt that the demands on any successor to St. Peter are immense, regardless of the times in which he is called to this ministry. That said, I daresay Father Martin’s words are also quite kind, perhaps overly so. I pray that history is kind to Benedict, though time will tell what his lasting legacy will be. I cannot help but think of His Holiness without also remembering with great pain the way in which he has marginalized God’s LGBT sons and daughters. His pursuit of a smaller, holier church can and should be challenged regarding its faithfulness to fundamental Gospel values and Jesus’ example of welcome and inclusion.
(Rev.) Timothy MacGeorge
I think time will tell if this was an “act of a humble Christian” or a calculated move to ensure he has a say in his successor. I will hold judgment until I see how this plays out.
Mary Hanlon Castronuovo
In the age when so many people are living longer and longer, it is good to allow popes the freedom to decide when it is time to retire from active ministry. It’s a good example for other bishops, too. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if popes had “term limits” of 10 years each, but this is a good start.