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Benedict’s Unique and Complex Legacy

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who will be remembered as the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign in 600 years, died Saturday at his home in the Vatican.

The retired pope’s health began to deteriorate over the Christmas season, and Pope Francis on Wednesday called on his followers to pray for his “very ill” predecessor.

The emeritus pope’s body will be taken to St. Peter’s Basilica on January 2, the Vatican announced on Saturday.

Before his fellow cardinals elected him as the first German pope in 2005, Benedict began to focus on Catholic theology and thinking as head of the Ministry of Faith under his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. had already left an indelible mark on His strict and usually conservative interpretation of church teachings and discipline earned him the nickname “God’s Rottweiler”. This is in stark contrast to the shy, introspective, art-loving man portrayed by his friends.

His death put an end to the complexity of having two popes in the Vatican. Aside from the need for a cardinal conference to elect a successor, it is the first time in modern times that another pope has died while another pope was in power.

Benedict XVI spent his last years in relative isolation in the Vatican, living in a monastery within the walls of the city-state and surrounded by a small number of aides and supporters. He made only a few public appearances with Pope Francis.

When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger appeared as Pope Benedict XVI at the 2005 Conclave, he faced the challenge of following the charismatic Pope John Paul II. John Paul II’s influence exceeded that of the Catholic Church in his nearly 30-year papacy.

John Paul is credited with overthrowing communism and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Through his immense popularity and experience in the persecuted Polish church, he ignited a deep conservatism in the Catholic Church, perceived the danger of communism and readiness to fight the looming greater threat of secularism. I made it.

Benedict was seen as a continuation of this conservative push against secularization, but with an academic bent. Theologian, Light of Reason, Light of Faith, Joseph Ratzinger and German Enlightenment.

“For someone of symbolic sensibility and temperament, Ratzinger’s choice of the name ‘Benedict’ was deliberate: by proposing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he would It was a desire to re-engage the nations.” E-mails Religion News Service.

“Benedict believed that reason and love could be a better foundation for the freedoms the West sought and desired,” he added.

Early in his accession to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI waived the traditional five-year waiting period to begin the process of beating John Paul. Benedict’s first encyclical, half of the papal official document called “Deus Caritas Est”, was written using the incomplete writings of John He Paul.

Benedict also paid tribute to his predecessor after being elected Pope in 2005.

“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinal elected me as a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that you know how to act even if you have enough comforts me, and above all I surrender to your prayers.”

Born on April 16, 1927, Benedict was ordained a priest in his native Bavaria, Germany, in 1951 and was soon acclaimed by influential Catholic theologians of the 20th century, including Hans Urs von Balthazar and Henri de Lubac. I entered the circle of

Initially, he was drawn to the progressive theological currents of nouvelle theology, which spearheaded new ideas for church reform.

He participated in the Second Vatican Council convened by Pope John XXIII to reform the Church and served as theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Richard Frings of Germany, who advocated on behalf of the Jews during the Nazi regime. rice field. youth.

The suit-wearing young Ratzinger was considered a Reformer at the time, working closely with the most progressive theologians present at the Council.

The sexual and cultural revolution of 1968 put an end to Ratzinger’s progressive leanings and his views became more conservative.

Appointed bishop of Munich and Freising in 1977, and cardinal the same year, he went to the Vatican in 1981 to take over the role of prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine (now Calamity for the Doctrine). Faith), responsible for dealing with important theological and doctrinal questions of the Catholic Church.

The bookish Ratzinger was reluctant to take the high-profile position, and John Paul had to ask several times before Ratzinger accepted. After going to Rome, he asked the Pope to remove him to work in the Vatican Library, but was refused.

A brief stint as a bishop in Munich would haunt him years later when a January 2022 report accused him of covering up abuses by a priest. Benedict has denied any wrongdoing while accusing him of sexual abuse and a cover-up in an open letter.

As secretary, Ratzinger espoused traditional Catholic views on life’s issues, sexuality and homosexuality. He approved a rule barring men with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” from entering the priesthood. He was also responsible for overseeing sexual abuse accusations by the clergy under his jurisdiction.

After making headlines around the world in 2002 after the Boston Globe reported that a number of priests had abused children, he published a letter titled De Delicti Gravioribus (On More Serious Crimes). bottom.

The letter was later criticized for “obstructing justice” in a US clergy abuse case.In 2005, Benedict was named in a Texas lawsuit involving a seminary student accused of abuse. Government officials argued that he should be granted immunity.

But while at the CDF, Ratzinger initiated the Vatican’s first effort to combat clerical abuse, expanded canon law to address child pornography, increased the likelihood of waiving statutes of limitations, and increased the likelihood of waiving the statute of limitations. We sped up the procedure for making priests lazy.

Upon being elected Pope, Benedict launched an investigation into the Legion of Christ and its founder, former priest and pedophile Marshall Maciel.

Although Benedict visited fewer countries than his worldwide traveled predecessors, his trips to the United States, Australia, Africa and the Middle East drew large crowds. He often used art as a bridge to facilitate dialogue with the countries and communities he visited.

“With his two visits to Africa and his post-Synodal recommendations Africae Mnus, Benedict demonstrates a clear admiration for African cultural values,” said Ashley Agbau-Ebay. “From an African perspective, the Benedict pontificate is a cultural and spiritual papacy, a Christ-centered Eucharistic spirituality that calls for breaking down tribal walls and fostering love and reconciliation in Africa. You can read that there is.”

Benedict sometimes refers to Africa as “the lungs of the church” because of its strong spirituality, multitude of occupations and young population. He appointed several Africans to Vatican posts and strengthened ties between African countries and Rome.

“Benedict was a teacher, and I think for the wider church his pope represented a course back to the basics of Christianity,” said John Sabis, an American journalist and author of The Vatican Diaries. rice field.

“After more than a quarter of a century of evangelism under John Paul II, the Benedictine Church looked inward to see what it believed and what it taught,” said Thavis. says. “I think Benedict thought that Christians needed to have a clearer understanding of their faith before they could engage with the world.”

Benedict succeeded in promoting ecumenical dialogue with Protestant and Orthodox denominations, but he failed to foster interreligious dialogue with Muslims and Jews.

In September 2006, Benedict gave a controversial speech at his former university in Regensburg, Germany, in which he said that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, brought only “wicked and inhumane” 14th-century emperors. , which angered Muslims.

Benedict’s decision in 2007 to allow Trident Mass celebrations prompted a backlash from Jewish groups opposed to the anti-Semitic language used in the ritual.

In 2009, Benedict apologized for lifting the excommunication of British Holocaust-denier traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson, who was wrongfully ordained in 1988 by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. bottom.

As Pope, Benedict also failed to clean up the Vatican’s unorganized and scandal-ridden office. According to Rev. Thomas Reese, author of “Inside the Vatican” and his RNS columnist, Benedict’s “public failure was due to his failure to consult a wide range of advisers.”

The Vatican scandal that erupted in 2012 revealed letters and other documents outlining corruption and lack of financial transparency in the Church’s operations, accusing the Pope of sectarianism and political gamesmanship within the Vatican. He made it clear that he was overwhelmed.

On February 11, 2013, Benedict announced his resignation in a speech to the Cardinals in Latin, citing “lack of strength of mind and body”. He received the title of Pope Emeritus and continued to live in a secluded alcove at the Mattel Ecclesier Convent in the Vatican. He spent his last days writing songs while playing the piano with his beloved colorful tabby cat.

As a pope who straddles the past and present, he paved the way for the church’s progress in the new millennium, laid the groundwork to tackle sexual abuse, and, more prosaically, created the first pope’s Twitter account. .

But he struggled to reconcile traditional Catholic views, based on the union of faith and reason, with a world he believed to be “under the dictatorship of relativism.”

While sticking to his firm beliefs, his resignation gave a new shock to the future.

“Benedict XVI may be our least understood pope,” said Reverend John Wark, professor at the University of Santa Croce Opus Dei in Rome and media commentator on Catholic issues.

“He was a revolutionary, but in some ways it’s hard to pull off and it’s easy to miss. He was bold, boldly understated. Nothing is clearer than his unprecedented resignation. This is , the most revolutionary act of any Pope of the last few centuries, his version of rebelling against tradition, or doing it “in his own way”, took the form of: The church can thrive without Joseph Ratzinger. ”

  • Claire Junggrave Author of RNS.first published RNS. Reprinted with permission.

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https://cathnews.co.nz/2023/01/01/benedicts-unique-and-complex-legacy/ Benedict’s Unique and Complex Legacy

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