Pope Benedict’s Legacy Is Inseparable From His Resignation

He announced in Latin like him. Because of this election, and because the event was scheduled as a routine part of Vatican business on the morning of February 11, 2013, few of the Cardinals present did not immediately realize what they had just heard. The great traditionalist XVI.

A pope doesn’t resign – that was modern wisdom. Popes are not like studio heads; There is a supernatural element in their choices, and there is a supernatural element in their departure, presumably. They waited until God took them.

Yet Benedict, who was about 86 years old at the time and nearly a decade before his death, who was 95 on Saturday, knew that despite tradition, there was no canon law against resignation. He explained that “mind and body strength are necessary to steer the ship”. [ship] St Peter’s, he said, had deteriorated to the point of “I had to admit my incapacity to adequately perform the service entrusted to me.” A few days later, he announced that he would spend the rest of his days in a life of prayer “hidden from the world.”

Under normal circumstances—that is, if the meeting following his resignation had elected a pope who pointed the barricade as Benedict had done—the effect of his departure would have taken decades to be clarified, and discussion of it would have been somewhat theoretical. Years later, people would still rehearse for you. fr. Thomas Reese, a church liberal whom Benedict once forced to resign as editor of the Jesuit magazine Americacommended his decision to retire. “Medicine these days is able to keep a Pope alive beyond its capacity to handle missionary work,” he said. “That’s fine, and it’s important that he be humble enough to say, ‘You know, God can take care of this.’ I can step aside and this is God’s church, not my church. First Things“This is a bad precedent. We don’t want the Pope to be like a CEO who has to resign if he becomes ineffective. I think it is wrong to think that through our manpower we can solve the problem of the Church or avoid any institutional pain.”

Such thoughts, however, were made strange almost instantly. Because the 2013 meeting -to almost everyone’s surprise – was played in such a way as to realize the resignation’s maximum potential for disruption.

When the cardinals named their peer, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, named Francis, Benedict and his predecessor Pope II. The meeting sought, among other things, someone to clean up the inefficient and corrupt papal bureaucracy or the Curia. This meant finding a suitable candidate for the pope from outside Europe and the US, who supplied most of the Curia staff. During the meeting, Bergoglio, the competent and charming Archbishop of Buenos Aires, may have rekindled this feeling with a short speech criticizing the “spiritual worldliness” of the Church. He hadn’t made a name for himself as a liberal, or he wouldn’t have been elected.

However, while in office, Francis shocked many by removing the emphasis of Church hostility towards active homosexuals and remarried Catholics, and apparently dedicating as much energy to pursuing immigration justice and environmental stewardship as outlawing abortion.

For the more conservative Catholics, it was like losing your Prohibition father and discovering that your stepfather ran a retort. And whatever they were, it was ruthless. Francis clearly would not have become Pope if Benedict had not resigned. But even if Benedict had served four years in the military before he resigned, Francis, who was 76 at the time of his election as his successor, would probably never have become Pope – after the age of 80 Cardinals would no longer attend meetings of all modern priests. Instead, Reno complains that before John Paul’s pontificate, “we are reconsidering everything we fought in the ’70s.” “They’re all back.”

And with that, an acid countercurrent emerged. Papal successions are always accompanied by gun-class gossip, but Francis’s was a first in the social media era. Hints of conspiracy and threats of schism spread from the margins to the mainstream with astonishing speed, and a retired pope living in Vatican City, going by the papal name and wearing the Papal white robes, became a sort of dust magnet. The not-so-nonsense season peaked in late 2014 when he became a conservative columnist for New York. TimesIn a post claiming that Francis could divide the Church, he half-jokingly added the only caveat, “Remember, there’s another Pope still alive!”

Nobody forgot. A far-right minister in the Italian government displayed a T-shirt that read “My Pope is Benedict”. Inevitably, the resignation debate led to the great black hole of modern Catholicism: the tragedy of sexual harassment. Conspiracy theorists, determined to throw this scandal on homosexuality, claimed that a “gay lobby” protecting its own lobby in the Vatican was blackmailing Benedict. In 2016, the not-so-secret retiree said he was a gay lobbyist, but had “dismantled” it. In 2018, when the disclosure of the hunts by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick cast a shadow over the three Popes (Francis, Benedict, and John Paul II) who could be expected to know something and do something about it, Benedict 6,000- came to blame for the disaster in the 1960s. a statement of speech that attributes it to sexual freedom and a moral philosophy that some might say reminiscent of Francis’s.

2019 Netflix movie Two PopesA fictional friend set before Benedict’s resignation received several Oscar nominations, reflecting what most people probably hope is the mood of the two-man relationship. Real life that year was more ups and downs. Francis (briefly) entertained the discussion of appointing married men in priest-poor areas of the Amazon. Within months, a book came out categorically against the marriage of clergy, announcing a prefix “I can’t keep quiet” – Benedict was the co-author and had his picture on the cover. There was a noise; Benedict’s indispensable friend and secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, irrationally claimed that Benedict was unaware of his co-author status. Working for both Popes, Gänswein was soon “redistributed” from Francis. In early 2022, a report commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich revealed that Benedict mismanaged at least four cases of harassment while he was Archbishop of the city. Gänswein called the accusations unsupportable, and said the retired pope had benefited from a move that “really wanted to destroy his person and business.”

Later, Francis tried to deny any disagreement between himself and Benedict, which he called “personified holiness.” “Our relationship is really good and we agree on what needs to be done,” he told an Italian news agency. “Anyone can say and think whatever they want,” he added.

With Benedict’s death, Roman Catholicism became, for the time being, an openly monolithic church. Referring to Benedict’s precedent, Francis considered retirement and thought that if he resigned, he would relinquish any papal status for the title of Honorary Bishop of Rome. “The first experience went very well,” he commented; but in the future “it would be better to describe or better explain things.” This time, everyone knows how important this could be for his boat downstream of the church.

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