…by becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
It’s not because of scandal or politics, it seems. Pope Benedict has been infirm for quite some time, and he writes:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
Benedict is 85 and has had a number of cardiovascular problems, and has been observed lately to have become increasingly frail. His more universally beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was incredibly infirm during the last years of his papacy but did not take this route; the usual thought is that it sets a bad precedent if popes resign.
I can’t say I’ve followed this pope’s tenure, but it’s my impression that although he hasn’t given people the warm fuzzies like some recent popes (and some of the coverage of his resignation reflects that media grumpiness), he was a fighter against the right things (hmmm, maybe those two are related). He angered the Muslim world by a speech he gave; but hey, doesn’t everyone anger the Muslim world?
I will now turn to a blogger I deeply respect who is a devout Catholic, The Anchoress, for her take on the resignation:
Perhaps Benedict’s retirement is meant to remind this exceedingly busy world — the non-stop, twenty-four-hour-live and very self-important world — that we are none of us indispensable; that there comes a time to step back, throw oneself into the arms of the Lord and trust that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Yes, I am sad. I have loved Benedict XVI; he has been my favorite pope — I loved John Paul, of course, but as I have said before, he was a grand, dramatic pipe organ of a man; he belonged to the whole world and his writings are often so dense I cannot plumb them. Benedict has always been the more accessible tinkling piano, simply inviting one to come closer. His copious writings have been almost avuncular in their gently-voiced but brilliant instruction, and somehow it always felt like he belonged “to me”. I will miss him terribly.
I agree with Ed Morrissey, Fr. James Martin, and others who call this an act of extreme humility…
The story goes that when he was a POW during World War II, the young Joseph Ratzinger shot craps with another prisoner, Gunter Grass, while they argued philosophy. “There are many truths,” Grass said. “No,” answer the 15 year-old Ratzinger, “there is only one.” He went from war to seminary and has spent his entire life in service to Christ and the church. Perhaps this shy, transparently holy introvert — whom the mainstream media have never “gotten” — has earned some time for quiet prayer, and reading, before he takes his leave…
Even I, who am not so very conversant with things Vatican, noticed the negativity of the MSM coverage. The Anchoress directs us to a blog called Get Religion that seems to specialize in the ways the press disses religion, and a post there which discusses the error-ridden and/or negative coverage of this event. For example, it calls Piers Morgan “the first Vatican Truther of the day.”
And Da Tech Guy has a lot of links, too.
[ADDENDUM: And right on schedule: diversity!]