February 11th, 2013

Pope Benedict surprises…

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!]

20 Responses to “Pope Benedict surprises…”

  1. southpaw Says:

    If the next Pope is Peter, I’m building a bunker.

  2. Mac Says:

    I’m with the Anchoress: John Paul was a great pope and a great man, but personally I’ve felt closer to Benedict. Maybe it’s just as simple as being more like him. His theological writings certainly go as deep as one can go. Parts of his encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love) are very beautiful to me. I couldn’t help being surprised that this 80-year-old celibate could speak so evocatively of romantic love.

  3. roc scssrs Says:

    My wife sleeps a little later than I do, and has the all-news station on snooze-alarm. When I came in to see if she was up yet, she told me she had a dream that the pope resigned.

  4. MissJean Says:

    I’ve already had a co-worker refer to him as a friend of child molesters, which is a bit like calling Lincoln a slave-owner. I can only imagine what the media says.

    The Anchoress is quite right about his writing. He writes like a teacher of students, not like an academic trying to impress other academics.

  5. MissJean Says:

    On a funny note: Another co-worker noted that among the possible new popes are a couple who are not only ultra-orthodox but very outspoken. I wonder what the media would do with a “conservative” pope from Africa or Asia?

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    MissJean: that’s easy.

    Same thing they did with Clarence Thomas.

  7. Shanna Carson Says:

    Can we expect the Catholic change with the next Pope? I don’t really think so. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, formerly the archbishop of Quebec City, has the best odds of replacing Pope Benedict XVI, but he is an extremely conservative man who will definitely not want the Catholic church to change. He is expected to be a carbon copy Pope Benedict XVI.

  8. CV Says:

    I remember when he spoke at the funeral of Pope John Paul II. At the time I was more inclined to absorb the mainstream media mischaracterizations of Joseph Raztinger (soon to become Pope Benedict) as God’s Rotweiller, etc.

    When I actually heard him speak, I was amazed at his gentle clarity and realized he was not at ALL like he had been painted in the press. I have basically been hanging on his every word since.

    As The Anchoress and others have pointed out, Benedict is a towering intellectual (like Pope John Paul II had been) but he is a teacher at heart and he has an extraordinarily ability to explain Church teachings in a manner that is accessible to all, from very young children to adult scholars.

    I particularly like the book God and the World, in which he was interviewed by the journalist (and fellow German) Peter Seewald. Another book in the same format is Light of the World.

    I had the misfortune of hearing this monumental news while watching Morning Joe on MSNBC this morning and one of the first things talking head and Catholic Mike Barnicle did was jump in and start “pontificating” (sorry) about Benedict’s legacy, future of the Church, etc.

    Totally and typically clueless, and the mainstream media coverage has just gotten worse as the day has gone on.

  9. expat Says:

    German talkshows are giving lots of space to lefty Catholics who are talking about the next pope who will have to deal with bringing the church into today’s world. Women want more of a voice. Birth control must be addressed. There must be more outreach to other religions. Blah, blah, blah.

    There was even a repeat of a program about Benedict’s election. It was heavy on conspiracies about conservative groups like Opus Dei. I guess they committed voting fraud.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    expat: I’ve got it—Obama for Pope!

    Or maybe Hagel, if he doesn’t get the Defense job. Unlike Obama, he’s even Catholic, too.

  11. George Says:

    “There was even a repeat of a program about Benedict’s election. It was heavy on conspiracies about conservative groups like Opus Dei. I guess they committed voting fraud.”

    Did they suggest Jimmy Carter monitor the next election?

  12. expat Says:


    The Germans wouldn’t even have to commit voter fraud.


    Don’t put any ideas in their heads.

  13. MissJean Says:

    George, I think that’s the funniest comment I’ve read all day! 🙂

  14. jon baker Says:

    southpaw, I am an evangelical. But the first thing I thought of today when I heard that the pope was stepping down was the story my Baptist preacher Uncle mentioned some years ago about a belief in certain Catholic circles that the next pope would be a “false pope”. Sounded like what in evangelical cirlces is known as the “antichrist’, though the Muslim expectation of Mahdi and his side kick Issa seems to fit the bill to a certain extent also. Interesting times.

  15. Steve Ducharme Says:

    No to go negative but…. as an agnostic who is not anti-religion but anti-“Oracle” (and the it’s hard to fathom a larger one than the Pope) I have a great deal of difficulty reconciling the many great and good deeds performed by the sincerely devoted with the decades coverups from the highest levels of the church. If you’re not blinded by devotion, it’s hard to cheer for “management” where the church is concerned.


  16. rafinlay Says:

    True diversity demands the election of a Muslim as Pope.

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    “” have a great deal of difficulty reconciling the many great and good deeds performed by the sincerely devoted with the decades coverups from the highest levels of the church.””

    You must not have heard how early Communist infiltrators setup the logistics support for homosexuals and other easily blackmailed people in the Vatican, for a future Soviet op then.

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    “I’ve already had a co-worker refer to him as a friend of child molesters”

    If the co worker is a Leftist member, then he had more to do with installing homosexuals and child molesters in the Vatican.

  19. Steve Ducharme Says:

    Sorry Ymarksakar. I’m not buying. there are so many flaws in the logic of this argument that I don’t even know where to begi, but try this on. Assuming you’re 100% correct. Why protect them at all and who continue so long after the fall of the SU?

  20. Molly NH Says:

    As a Catholic I have been shocked & scandalized by the abuse that went on & the official behavior to hide it & sweep it under the rug. The Church lost a huge, huge amount of moral authority
    it will take 100 years to get it back & that is only if they decide to operate above board from now on.
    My husband & I used to have conversations about it. I remember
    us saying “where can a gay man, who is a pedophile,or just gay & into going to rest areas, get a job that gives him access to boys, & he never has to worry about the pretense of a wife, & he can draw a salary, possibly have a wine cellar & oriental rugs & drive a new Buick.” Sad that a calling that was instituted to emulate Christ became so tainted.
    If there was no request for absolution then there must be a very hot section of Hell reserved for these sinners.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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