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Monday, February 11, 2013

Quick Thoughts on Benedict's Retirement

I'm not much into blogging lately, but a few quick thoughts prompted by the extraordinary news of the day concerning Pope Benedict's decision to step away from the papacy:

1) It is an act of great humility in keeping with the Ratzinger/Benedict that people closest to him speak of. I admire him for it.

2) The early years of the youthful John Paul II's papacy dramatically changed the expectations of the men who serve as pope, and the latter years of his papacy which were marked by continual health problems demonstrated the effects of a weakened pope upon the Catholic Church. Ratzinger was a vital part of the Vatican through both of those stages and I believe the lessons learned from both stages effected his decision as Pope Benedict to step down. As historically significant and unique as it is, this is a decision that was in some ways predictable given Benedict's experience with John Paul II, and it could well become the norm. Here is a key quote from his speech this morning announcing his retirement:
"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 St. 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."

3) A fascinating replacement would be Cardinal Christopher Schonborn. He is a figure of great intellectual capacity and conersvative theological leanings, but tremendously pastoral and prophetic in his response to the sexual abuse crisis. I suspect there will be a strong push for him in the Western media, and I would be quite pleased to see him elevated. Here is the transcript of an interview he gave to my favorite Vatican journalis,  John Allen, in the Fall of 2012.


  1. Interesting thoughts. The demands of his office must be exhausting!

    Personally, I would love to see a pope from a 2/3 World country... or for a person of color. It would speak volumes...

  2. Insightful thoughts Greg. Thank you for relating today's event so tightly to lessons learned during John Paul II's experience. That helps add clarity and depth to the news of this decision.
    Iagree with you that this evidence of the humble spirit of this servant, and of his wisdom as to the needs of the church.