Skip to comments.The challenge Pope Benedict has left for his successor—and for ordinary Catholics
Posted on 02/12/2013 3:00:09 PM PST by NYer
Although Pope Benedict caught nearly everyone by surprise when he announced his resignation, we can’t say that he didn’t give us fair warning. In an interview in 2010, the Holy Father explained at some length why a Pope should resign when he no longer had the strength to carry out his duties. He even said at the time: “I also notice that my forces are diminishing.”
For months now, visitors to the Vatican have reported evidence of the Pope’s physical decline. He not only needs help walking because of aching joints, but also has trouble concentrating through a long work session because of flagging energy. After a nap his mind is as sharp as it ever was, but the need for rest is coming more frequently. Apparently the Pope assessed his own condition—humbly, prayerfully, and unsparingly—and concluded that he can no longer do the work.
The decision must have been a painful one, because Pope Benedict still has several cherished projects to complete: the liturgical “reform of the reform,” the completion of the Year of Faith, the new encyclical. An ordinary man would no doubt struggle to complete those last few projects, even if he knew that his strength was failing. But Benedict XVI is no ordinary man.
This has been a pontificate of surprises. The most important announcements have come without accompanying fanfare, without premature news leaks. Yet when he has taken action, Benedict XVI has always been decisive. His resignation announcement is no exception.
As my colleague Jeff Mirus points out, a papal resignation is not unprecedented. But nothing of the kind has occurred in this era of instant worldwide communication. From this day forward, for better or worse, every Roman Pontiff will face questions about if, or when, he plans to resign. The Twitter generation will begin asking questions whenever a Pope experiences a health crisis. (Is it possible to serve as a Pope while fighting early-stage cancer or heart disease? With failing eyesight?) More ominously, the same sort of questions will arise when the Pope loses a popularity poll; the political pressures on the papacy are sure to increase.
Count on it: The mass media will remark with surprise that the next Pope, whoever he is, is “conservative” on doctrinal issues, because he upholds perennial Church teachings on matters such as the male priesthood and the dignity of human life. The secular media cannot be made to understand that every plausible candidate for the papacy is “conservative” by their standards, since the papabile are all believing Catholics. An unbelieving world, accustomed to appraising all disagreements in political terms, cannot comprehend that the Bishop of Rome has no personal discretionary authority on questions of doctrine: that he can only teach what the Church teaches. So the pressure on the new Pope will begin from the day of his election; the media will demand radical change, and attack him when he fails to meet their expectations. Pope Benedict has endured this sort of pressure for nearly 8 years now, and never buckled. But the hostility of the mainstream media have undoubtedly taken their toll, as they will on his successors.
In retrospect we can see that Pope Benedict has been preparing for his own departure. If he has been contemplating resignation for months, as his brother reports, it is much easier to understand why he called two consistories within the space of one year. He wanted to ensure an appropriate balance within the College of Cardinals, among the men who will choose his successor. He chose to step down now, no doubt, so that he will not leave that successor burdened with too many tasks that he himself was unable to complete.
So now Pope Benedict has left us, the faithful, with a task of our own. We have a day to swallow the news of his resignation, and another day to digest it. Then Ash Wednesday will arrive, and we must all buckle down to a season of prayer and fasting for the good of the Church, and especially for the strength of Benedict’s successor.
It is anecdotal but I am seeing a lot of chatter about the possibility of an African Pope...
Pray for Pope Benedict and the cardinals as they prepare to meet in conclave! That is our Lenten mission.
The complete text of the announcement of the resignation
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to
communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.
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. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in todays world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint 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.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.
With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
We can, and the media certainly does, make conjectures about this man or that.
The Holy Spirit is the one who chooses and as such, we should just relax in that knowledge and pray.
I do believe that the gates of hell will not prevail and that whomever comes into the papacy will do so as God will’s.
There are only two African (sub-Saharan, that is) candidates. The one most discussed is Peter Cardinal Turkington of Ghana, who seems pretty conservative (although he’s very involved in some sort of “economic justice” initiative, which doesn’t sound very good to me). He’s president of the “Peace and Justice Commission,” so he has Vatican experience.
But I don’t think Africa is ready to have a Pope, or at any rate, not this time. I don’t think he’d be a good choice, aside from his anti-capitalist leanings, because I don’t think he’d be able to bring in people of his own with experience and the background to deal with the Vatican bureacracy. This will be a problem with most Africans, who come from complete missionary territory.
It’s kind of a foregone conclusion that no American will be accepted, since Europeans (who make up the bulk of the electorate) are fervently anti-American, but I’d like to see either Cardinal Burke or Cdl Ouellet (Canadian). Both have considerable international experience, are multilingual, scholarly but very strong - Burke recently came out and said that pro-abortion pols should be DENIED Communion.
From Latin America, I think there’s one possibility, Cdl Sandri of Argentina. He has a lot of international experience, has spent much of his career at the Vatican, has very good relations with the Jews (important to BXVI), also knows the Mid East, and I think is quite a forceful person.
Whoever takes over is going to have to be very strong. BXVI had the ideas, but not the strength to carry them out, and I think this is why he is resigning. They (the Vatican appartchiks and the old VII crowd) opposed him at ever step and many of the things he ordered never took place, such as the broader distribution of the Old Mass. The bishops simply refused to comply, as in my diocese, and BXVI didn’t have the ability or the will to force them to do so. I hope his successor takes up his ideas...but is more forceful and can actually implement them.
Not sure if he's too old, but Cardinal Arinze would make an excellent Pope. Can't remember which African Archdiocese he represents, but he's very faithful and orthodox.
Sorry for not being politically correct here, but I don’t want an African Pope. The tradition of the church is not, nor ever has been, in Africa. It is a Western world religion, not an African or South American continent religion. There are no historical roots in Africa. And not that much in South America. And none in the Orient either. I want a traditional Western World Pope. My favorite pick would be Cdl Ouellet (Canadian), as he is a multiple linguist, is very traditional on the matters that count most, abortion, gay marriage, the basic principles of the Church’s teachings. I pin my hopes on him as being the best of the potential lot. This politically correct thought has got to end.
Otherwise, here is the political version of what is now going on with the Pope: the next President of the United States has to be a woman, and thus Hilllary Clinton should be the nominee after the first black President’s term is over. Do you really want that? I don’t think so. Get out of the mindset of political correctness. In today’s world we can’t afford to have a politically correct Pope dealing with international affairs. No way.
Doesn’t Gods Spirit transcend racial, national and geographical boundaries? I think you place God in a small box of your own construct to make a statement like that.
In a sense, I’m almost in agreement. Western Civ became what it was in Europe. I’d love to see Europe return to that era. But it doesn’t look at all likely. Europe has come close to demolishing Christianity in the last century, and it’s highly unlikely, given the influx of Islamic immigrants, that it will ever return to that golden age.
Right now, the old church flourishes in unEuropeanized (sorry about the word) countries. Africa’s dioceses conform more to the culture and tradition, never mind the dogma, of the old European church than Europe does. But it’s not just that. The Church is universal. What there is about the Roman Catholic Church that makes it unique isn’t the surrounding secular culture. It’s the essence of the Church, the same essence that transformed Europe and the lack of which will transform it again.
Don’t worry about an African pope (or a South American, or a Chinese, or an Aleutian pope). Who cares? The choice is not ours or even the cardinals’, it’s the Holy Ghost’s. (I’m not PC either.)
Really? You don’t want a bishop from Africa? If I wanted a nationalist religion, I’d become an anglican, and what you’re asking for is just anglicanism on a bigger scale.
The RCC consists of the worldwide communion. Nothing less.
Besides, the African leadership is some of the most conservative in the church. Their seminaries are filled, while ours are empty.
It is quite possible since Africa has witnessed the greatest growth of christianity in the past half century. Not surprisingly, the secular mainstream media ignorantly put forth information that fits the framework of contemporary society. This morning I caught Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends, show a picture of Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana. She excitedly commented that were he elected, he would be .... the first African American pope. Yes .. she said that. I could only laugh. Moreover, I doubt the msm have done much research. Were they to dig deeper, they would discover that the Catholic Church has already been served by 3 African popes source.
“Really? You dont want a bishop from Africa? If I wanted a nationalist religion, Id become an anglican, and what youre asking for is just anglicanism on a bigger scale.
The RCC consists of the worldwide communion. Nothing less.”
What you say, of course, is ridiculous. If you want a worldwide communion, then it appears YOU are the globalist. Yes, Catholicism has spread all over the world, but it is still a Western religion, with all of its strong roots in the West, and no, I don’t want ANY MORE PC BALONEY. Comprende? (just a little globalist lingo).
“Doesnt Gods Spirit transcend racial, national and geographical boundaries? I think you place God in a small box of your own construct to make a statement like that.”
Well, what percentage of Africa is Roman Catholic? Where are the bulk of Catholics to this day? It’s in the Western culture, because that is where it started. If you pick a Latin American or African Pope, you are going to get lots of social justice philosophy mixed in, just wait and see. I don’t want to chance it. I want a conservative Western Pope. He can then minister to the whole wide world, including Africa and Latin America and the Orient, but I want the Pope to be a Westerner.
And I’m sick to death of political correctness (or in this case, spiritual correctness). Some of you can continue to try to guilt trip me with your PC ecumenical, globalist philosophy by ceding a western church and its spiritual culture to other foreign lands for the Head of the Church, but you won’t succeed. And I’ll bet a Pope’s chalice that there are a bunch of readers on this thread that agree with me 100 percent, many of whom may be afraid to admit it though. So sad that it has come to this.
“Besides, the African leadership is some of the most conservative in the church. Their seminaries are filled, while ours are empty.”
Ours aren’t empty. They are doing better a lot better of late, in fact and many of them are Latin Mass conservative young men. And there are plenty of conservative Catholics throughout the Western countries. Plenty. You sell your own kind short, unless of course, you aren’t of western kind.
I thank God for Pope Benedict.
And pray that he will get healing rest soon and spend many many years as he wishes in prayer and contemplation.
Irrelevant. What percentage of Heaven is comprised of Africans? I don't know. I don't care. It's above my pay grade. If you are indeed Catholic, why do you not trust the process? I'm not Catholic. I don't care who they elect but any consideration of race or geography, plus or minus, is wrong minded. No, I don't believe in Affirmative Action but I have no proof it would be employed here. I don't think you do either.
My own kind?
Personally, I’m only hoping for a pope who will be true to church doctrine, and the Holy Spirit can sort that out.
Meanwhile, you can pray for your western pope, but I doubt that skin color is high on God’s list of priorities.
By the way, my “kind” is white. Cajun white.
“By the way, my kind is white. Cajun white.”
Good, my kind too. Let’s have a Cajun Pope. Can you find us one? Would Cajun fit the politically correct quota, do you think? Oh no, sorry, that won’t work. Must be an African or Latino. Cajun just isn’t quite politically correct enough. Too white. Can’t have any of those white folks. Now THAT is politically incorrect.
“I’m not Catholic. I don’t care who they elect but any consideration of race or geography, plus or minus, is wrong minded. No, I don’t believe in Affirmative Action but I have no proof it would be employed here. I don’t think you do either.”
From the posts on this thread, it was the first thing that was spoken about, having either an African or South American Pope. Anyhow, you don’t have any dog in his fight as you are not Catholic. Therefore it is immaterial to you as to who is Pope. Well I do care, and I am of western heritage, and Catholicism is a western heritage religion that should be led by a western heritage Pope. Roman Catholicism is the last bastion of western Catholic philosophical spirituality, the original Christian religion. If it gets watered down into some PC diluted mess, that would be the biggest sin. It has already been battered by allowing homosexuals to infiltrate its ranks in the name of PC, and look where that has led to. I want nothing of PC to affect the Catholic Church any more than it already has. I want no more Father Pfleger in Chicago types. I want a conservative western Pope who shares our heritage. I guess you will vote for Hillary for Prez next time around, as we must have a first woman, now that we’ve had a first black Prez. Bah humbug.