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The Reason Benedict Resigned ^ | February 15, 2013 | William Fahey

Posted on 02/17/2013 7:06:13 PM PST by Salvation

The Reason Benedict Resigned

William Fahey

by William Fahey on February 15, 2013 · 

The Catholic world is largely shocked by the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter of resignation this morning.  The secular world assumes the worst—no, it desires the worst, and by insinuation worms doubts into the minds of even the faithful.

The secular world will tear through the brief letter and fixate upon the line about a “world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.”  It will weave from these deconstructed words an existential tale of despair, scandal, and an authority which realizes it is no longer in touch with reality.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Benedict’s resignation is utterly consistent with his character.  It is traditional—he brings from our history and our law a fact and feature of the Papal Office: one can and—under certain circumstance—should put aside that office.

His resignation demonstrates once again the firm mark of a father and a teacher.   A father knows that his role is to provide example, instruction, and discipline, and ultimately put himself aside for the good of his own. The Petrine ministry is not exercised for a man, or for bishops and priests, or even for Catholics alone.  It is a ministry exercised for all those seeking God and for all those towards whom God’s mercy is extended.  It is a demanding office.

As with every text published by Benedict, this letter of resignation has no imbalance, flab, impression, or vagueness.  Not a word goes astray.  It is shot through with paternal love and professorial clarity.

An honest reading of this document can only lead to profound gratitude and sympathy for a suffering father who must understand each act and decision he makes as having “great importance for the life the Church.”

No one could doubt that this Holy Father has meditated profoundly, and I expect repeatedly, on The Pastoral Rule of St. Gregory the Great—that sixth-century handbook for those who hold the highest spiritual authority, what Benedict and others have called the ars artium (“the art of arts”).  Much of the book is a warning against the wrong reasons for grasping or holding on to power, followed by an outline of the virtues needed to exercise leadership well.  In the first book of The Pastoral Rule we find this line, which I believe has quietly echoed for some weeks in the Holy Father’s thoughts:  “He must be a man whose aims are not thwarted by the frailty of his body.”  The office of Peter is not a spiritual thing which discounts human nature.  That sacred ministry resides with a person, but that person must have the nature to exercise its rigors.

Benedict XVI has marked his pontificate by humility.  If anything, he has tried to depersonalize the use of authority, even that uniquely personal authority, the Petrine Office.  Yet we must always remember that the “person” of the Papal ministry is St. Peter, who with his successors acts in the person of Christ.  The papacy is a lived authority and a living authority and one that must respond to the needs of the Age.  It is natural that we love the concrete that we know, and love the particular character of our popes.  And we must do our best to accept that like a humble and adored teacher, Benedict now forces on his students a hard lesson: that the teacher should never be the focus of our final attention and love.

Our age has become overly focused on a model of “leadership” which is nothing short of superficial, for whom the shallow gilt of charisma and “personality” have blinded everyone to questions of duty and responsibility.  Benedict’s resignation teaches us once again that leadership—while exercised by a person—is not about that person. Benedict has set before our eyes the old Roman sense of officium—duty, office, responsibility.  Benedict’s embrace of the Petrine office has always been a reluctant one, and that reluctance is born of clear self-knowledge and deep understanding of the history and purpose of papal authority.

The following words are taken from one of the Holy Father’s General Audience in 2008.  He spoke on St. Gregory the Great and his reluctance to sit on the throne of St. Peter, reluctance that gave way to grace, prayer, and action:

Recognizing the will of God in what had happened, the new Pontiff immediately and enthusiastically set to work. From the beginning he showed a singular enlightened vision of the reality with which he had to deal, an extra-ordinary capacity for work confronting both ecclesial and civil affairs, a constant and even balance in making decisions, at times with courage, imposed on him by his office.

These are not words set down in a theoretical fashion. They rise from the Holy Father’s lips with experience behind them.

More moving are Benedict’s closing words from the following day’s audience.  Again, speaking on St. Gregory and his lonely pontificate, he ends:

Gregory remained a simple monk in his heart and therefore was decidedly opposed to great titles.  He wanted to be—and this is his expression—servus servorum Dei. Coined by him, this phrase was not just a pious formula on his lips but a true manifestation of his way of living and acting. He was intimately struck by the humility of God, who in Christ made himself our servant. He washed and washes our dirty feet. Therefore, he was convinced that a Bishop, above all, should imitate this humility of God and follow Christ in this way.  His desire was to live truly as a monk, in permanent contact with the Word of God, but for love of God he knew how to make himself the servant of all in a time full of tribulation and suffering. He knew how to make himself the “servant of the servants.”  Precisely because he was this, he is great and also shows us the measure of true greatness.

The Holy Father’s reasons for resignation spring from a grave sense of office and a faithful belief in what that office truly is. He has remained through his pontificate faithful and true to his vocation of father and teacher. Both father and teacher must daily put aside themselves to be true to their calling.

The papacy is not a mere person, it is not a great man, it is certainly not a bloodline or earthly principality. It is the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter. It is a sacred office entrusted to the entire Church. It is an enduring stewardship through time.  Behind the Vicar stand the Kingship of Christ and the enduring nature of His Church, yesterday, today, and forever.

By the grace of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict XVI has resigned. His Holiness has resigned because he understands his office and he wishes with firm resolve to help us to understand this and deepen our faith by remembering him for what he is and by lifting up our hearts and minds to the eternal Father and His Son, Our Supreme Pastor and Lord, Jesus Christ.


This article was originally published  at Crisis.

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; popebenedictxvi; poperesigns
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**The Holy Father’s reasons for resignation spring from a grave sense of office and a faithful belief in what that office truly is. He has remained through his pontificate faithful and true to his vocation of father and teacher. Both father and teacher must daily put aside themselves to be true to their calling.**
1 posted on 02/17/2013 7:06:20 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Catholic Ping!

2 posted on 02/17/2013 7:08:51 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

He knew when to say when.

3 posted on 02/17/2013 7:17:47 PM PST by AU72
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To: Salvation
I am quitting being a Catholic. You know when things get tough my priest has always said that I could endure with the teaching of mother church.

My faith would carry me.

Benedict is a quitter and I will never go back to church again.

We say a prayer every time at mass for the Pope and those who would take up the priesthood. I did not think we would want quitters and those who do not accept the task God presents them.

Never not once did I think the Pope would resign.

This is not a joke. I am no longer a Catholic.

4 posted on 02/17/2013 7:22:23 PM PST by highpockets
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To: Salvation
Working in a place where people who can be expected to stick to their guns and strive for the best under intense pressure for decades on end, it's easy to understand why the Pope would retire in his mid 80s.

According to other posts earlier he will still have been the second-oldest Pope over the last 1000 years (for which we have records).

5 posted on 02/17/2013 7:27:17 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: highpockets

You are always a Catholic and will have to answer for your statements at the moment of your death when you meet Christ.

While you are alive Christ is total mercy; at the moment of your death Christ is total justice.

Please go in and talk to a theologian about this....not just your parish priest.

On one of the threads, someone quoted a news story about how Benedict’s tailors had to downsize his vestments since he had lost so much weight.

I suspect he may die sooon. Then what will you say?

6 posted on 02/17/2013 7:28:44 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: highpockets

I’m curious - why quit Catholicism altogether, highp? I’m still confused by his leaving. But it seems Benedict isn’t quitting the Church, just the office.

7 posted on 02/17/2013 7:29:17 PM PST by ReaganGeneration2
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To: ReaganGeneration2; highpockets

You are correct. Not quitting the church — like a CEO who can no longer fulfill the demands of his office he has resigned.

He is not the first Pope to resign, either.

There’s a thread in the links below on St. Celestine. Scott Hahn’s reflections shed some more light on St. Celestine.

8 posted on 02/17/2013 7:35:27 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: ReaganGeneration2; highpockets
The Reason Benedict Resigned [Catholic Caucus]
At B16's Window, A Big "Thank You"... While Behind the Walls, The "Showcase" Begins
Prayers for Our Holy Father Benedict XVI and the Papal Conclave

Pope still extremely Catholic (A look at how media cover Catholicism [and the Pope])
Conclave to silence at least nine tweeting cardinals
Pope Benedict's resignation and the mystery of the missing encyclical
Benedict, Dawkins, and the Fullness of Reason
Benedict XVI: Vatican II as I saw it
Benedict’s renunciation and the wolves within the church
The Left Lobbies for a Liberal Successor to Benedict (and here is why)

Pope Benedict's Future Residence
SCOTT HAHN: Pope Benedict had a profound effect on this former Presbyterian minister
Is the Next Pope the One From John Bosco’s Dream? (Patrick Madrid offers an intriguing twist)
"Re-Elect Pope Benedict" - “Eight more years!”
Who can be elected pope?
The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI: A commentary by Fr. Barron
More details on papal resignation, conclave (Vatican Press Office)
Church doesn't bend, but endures
Who Will Take Up the Keys of Peter (This is a MUST READ!)
Conclave & The Media: The Silly Season

Cardinal Bertone's Farewell Address to the Holy Father
"Thank You – Let Us Return to Prayer": For the Last Time, The Pope Leaves the Altar
"Today, We Begin A New Journey" – Liturgically Speaking, B16's Last Word
Vatican releases schedule for Pope's final days
Benedict XVI: Reason’s Revolutionary
Some Interesting Tidbits From Today’s Vatican press conference
Pope Decided to Resign After Cuba Trip, Vatican Advisor Says
Pope Says He's Resigning for the 'Good of Church'
Watch for the Anti-Catholics To Weigh in on the Papal Succession
The challenge Pope Benedict has left for his successor—and for ordinary Catholics

Historian Notes Precedents for Papal Resignation
US Will Have Unprecedented Voice In Electing New Pope
Pope Benedict’s Resignation and St. Corbinian’s Bear
Pope Benedict XVI’s Musical Legacy
Benedict announces resignation and lightning strikes
DHS's curiosity piqued over Pope Benedict XVI's retirement and Catholic Prophecy
Prayers for Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict's Devotion to Saint Celestine Signaled His Resignation from the Papacy
Cardinal Sodano to Pope Benedict: “We have heard you with a sense of loss and almost disbelief”
Pope's resignation invokes sadness, gratitude from US bishops

Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Report: Brother Says Pope Was Considering Resignation for Months
Some Notes About the Upcoming Conclave
An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict’s Resignation in Historical Context
Virtually unprecedented: papal resignation throughout history
Pope Benedict XVI:a papal timeline
"I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome" [Full Text]
Pope Benedict's Address on Resignation of the See of Rome

9 posted on 02/17/2013 7:37:17 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: highpockets
“I am quitting being a Catholic... Benedict is a quitter and I will never go back to church again.”

How you choose to live your life is your decision. Faith must come from within.

Pope Benedict made a wise and humble decision. There is no reason for him to continue the responsibilities of his office if age and ill health limit his abilities. I am moved by his honesty in admitting his human frailty. He is truly a holy man.

Benedict will continue to practice his faith. He is not quitting that.

You are the one quitting your faith. You are the quitter. I wish you wouldn't call Benedict a quitter.

10 posted on 02/17/2013 7:45:01 PM PST by detective
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To: highpockets
Did you read the article? The Pope didn't quit because things were too tough for him to take, and he was somehow scared, personally. He recognized that the Church needed someone who is stronger than he to take Her through the tough times ahead.

Pope Benedict understands that he is not the Church, and that stepping aside to allow the Holy Spirit to bring forth another to take his place would be the best thing for the Church. Staying in office beyond the time his body and mind could be strong enough to withstand the attacks would not be the best for Jesus's Church, and Benedict knows that JESUS is the priority, not himself, as the person sitting in the Seat of Peter.

It was a selfLESS decision, not a selfish one.

11 posted on 02/17/2013 7:45:34 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: highpockets
If this is what chased you away from your Catholic faith, then I really question how serious you were in the first place.

The Catholic Church is not a cult of personality tied to the man who serves as Christ's representative on earth. Go back through history and see how many times the Catholic Church was truly in distress: times when popes were imprisoned, when two or three different men claimed to be the "real" pope, etc.

On top of all that, keep in mind that this is the first time in the history of the human race when people routinely live to the age of 90 or 100 years old. If Pope Benedict XVI was well aware that he had a medical condition that presented a serious threat to his ability to serve (think of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease, for example), would you really want him to continue serving just so that you wouldn't look upon him as a "quitter?"

I think it's time for you to grow up and take a good, hard look at yourself.

12 posted on 02/17/2013 7:57:37 PM PST by Alberta's Child ("I am the master of my fate ... I am the captain of my soul.")
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To: SuziQ

Well said.

13 posted on 02/17/2013 7:58:04 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: muawiyah

Some friends and I were talking about the age of 75 when Bishops are asked to retire so that new blood can lead the diocese.

Benedict has served 10 years beyond that criterium.

I don’t think too many people are aware that when he was a Cardinal he received a pacemaker.

14 posted on 02/17/2013 8:00:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Pray for the lost and uncharitable.
They know not what they say.

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To: Religion Moderator; Admin Moderator

Please take off the Catholic Caucus on this thread. Too many people have sent me private messages and want to post on the thread.

Thanks in advance.

16 posted on 02/17/2013 8:08:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: AU72

My husband sufferred with lung cancer for a few months and he knew that when it metasticized into brain cancer — that he had to quit.

I never thought of him as a quitter — just one that was willing to accept what was in his path.

God bless.

17 posted on 02/17/2013 8:12:19 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: highpockets

The Pope is Peter, “This Rock,” and is the focal point for the continuation of Christ’s Church. But the individual Pope is not the Church; otherwise, there would have been no Pope after St Peter.

We have had many bad popes, many indifferent popes, and a few saintly popes. We have had 265 Popes since St Peter, but the Church is still with us. Most of the popes died in office; some of the early popes died in the salt mines during the persecutions, some died at the hands of national powers, some died in disgraceful circumstances, and some died at the hands of corrupt clergy in their own households. But the Church is still with us.

Our Lord only promised that the Church, His Church, would endure, not that an individual Pope would be with us forever. BXVI is leaving for a good reason: I don’t know if you saw his last mass, but he had to be helped from point to point by people on either side of him and I doubt that he is going to live much longer.

I don’t know what medical problem he has, but it has become very acute in the last few months and he has changed enormously. He is frail and out of breath and is barely audible when he speaks. His mind seems to be just fine, judging by the addresses he has given in the last few days, but his body simply is not holding up.

Rather than let the Church grind to a halt while he dies, during a time when the Church has rarely been under more pressure, both from the left and from Islam, he has decided that the times are so urgent that someone physically capable of dealing with it must be called out of the ranks to lead the battle.

I think that is an honorable and good thing and God will reward his faithful servant as He should.

19 posted on 02/17/2013 8:35:54 PM PST by livius
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To: highpockets

It seems that the man is blind in one eye and has little hearing in one ear. You would carry on?

20 posted on 02/17/2013 8:39:49 PM PST by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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