What a wild week in the Catholic world. For most of us the shock of Pope Benedict’s announcement to step down has not subsided, but the reality of the situation is settling in our minds and hearts. With that, the reactions from around the world are starting to pour in.
One item lost in the frenzy of the announcement is that with the timing of the renouncement, the Holy Father’s last open public mass as Pope has already come and gone. It was on Ash Wednesday. If you missed it, CatholicTV has it in their archive.
Rocco Palmo quoting the Pope in a foreshadowing speech in November:
Dear friends, at our age we often experience the need of the help of others; and this also happens to the Pope. In the Gospel we read that Jesus told the Apostle Peter: “when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go”
Edward Pentin for the National Catholic Reporter on a Benedict’s “Prayerful Decision to Resign”:
The news prompted speculation about the reasons for his unexpected decision. However, those close to the Pope argue that his decision is very much in keeping with his character. Reluctant to be Pope — he once remarked that on learning of his election, he felt like a guillotine had come down on his neck — he went on to courageously embrace it. But it was no secret that, as cardinal, he harbored dreams of retiring and spending time back in his native Bavaria writing books.
Non-Catholic Religious Leaders React
Considering the divisive portrait some in the media like to paint of Pope Benedict, his papacy has been one of great strides in Christian unity. This can be seen most clearly in the words of religious leaders from communities that have not always been kind to the Bishop of Rome.
Daniel Burke writes for the Washington Post on this changing respect toward the Papacy:
“Pope Benedict XVI has exemplified moral courage and an unwavering commitment to the Gospel message,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian political group…Just a generation or two ago, such lavish praise might have been unthinkable. During the 1960s, evangelist Billy Graham — sometimes dubbed the Protestant pope — took heat for inviting Catholics to join his revivals.
But after the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), denominational barriers fell and ecumenism prospered.”
Thoughts from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:
We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend of our Church and a faithful servant of the sacred proposition for the union of all. Moreover, we shall rejoice upon learning of his sound health and the productivity of his theological work.
Thoughts from Patriarch Hilarion, Russian Metropolitan of Volokolamsk:
“The Russian Orthodox Church is grateful to Pope Ratzinger [sic] for his work in understanding and solving problems that obstruct the relationships between Orthodox Christians and Catholics, especially in regions such as Ukraine.”
Thoughts from Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury:
“In his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict showed us all something of what the vocation of the See of Rome can mean in practice – a witness to the universal scope of the gospel and a messenger of hope at a time when Christian faith is being called into question.”
Examining the Papal candidates
While Irish oddsmakers have Peter Cardinal Turkson of Ghana favored to be the next Pope, The Catholic Traveler has compiled a list of the members of the College of Cardinals, and Focus takes a look at some of the candidates via YouTube.
Lastly, a friend of mine, Sarah Dickmeyer, reflects on a special blessing she received from Pope Benedict XVI (with a special shout out to another friend The Catholic Traveler):
As the processional of Cardinals began, sure enough, our seats were in prime location of catching a glimpse as he was be [sic] escorted in his ‘Popemobile’. He drove by, no more than fifteen feet away, and I couldn’t help but be drawn in to him more because of his smile. He seemed so gentle, loving, kind, and peaceful. All I could do was just to smile and wave in return.