‘The Pope with a lower- case p’
Pope Benedict XVI may not have gained admirers for his conservatism but his decision to resign from the Papacy, a position for life, shows humility, even nobility.
His resignation letter mentioned of him having repeatedly examined his conscience before making the decision.
“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,” he said.
If only our aging politicians would have even a fraction of that conscience and cease imposing themselves on the people!
The 85-year old Pope further said, “ 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 today’s 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 recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
He knows when to give up power. He knows that he is not indispensable in the institution that he heads. That’s wisdom.
Pope Benedict XVI who was installed as leader of 1.2 billion Catholics on April 19, 2005, said his resignation will be effective at 20:00 hours (8 p.m.) of Feb. 28, 2013.
An article in Spiegel Online “Exhausted in the Vatican: The Final Battles of Pope Benedict XVI” tells of the Pope not in control of a scandal –racked Vatican.
There a part in the article, written by Fiona Ehlers, Alexander Smoltczyk and Peter Wensierski , that tells of “human” side the Pope who was born Joseph Ratzinger and had served in Hitler’s military as was required of all German youth during World War II.
The article relates that a month after his election to the Papacy the seminary in the Campo Santo Teutonico, a green island directly adjacent to the sacristy of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. He had lived in that seminary in the 1960s during Vatican II, the period of sweeping reforms in the Church and returned to it in 1982.
The article said, “Ratzinger remained loyal to the seminary community until he was elected pope. For decades, he celebrated Mass at 7 a.m. there every Thursday, and he often ate with students in the dining room, had discussions with them and attended the Christmas party in the fireplace room. It was a place to which he could seek refuge from his duties as head of the CDF, a kind of adopted family.”
At the end of that May 24, 2005 visit, the article said, “Ratzinger signed the guestbook. He wrote “Benedict XVI” and then, leaving a small space, scribbled “pope.” At first he wrote it with a lower-case p, but then he changed it to an upper-case one.”
Those who knew about the incident saw it as “ It was almost as if he had to tell himself: My God, I’m the pope!”
The article said “Ratzinger felt uncomfortable with the power he had assumed, which is one reason he has declined to comprehensively reform the system. He has preferred to place his trust in his underlings…..”
The article continued: “Ratzinger has repeatedly tried to foster this ‘environment of trust,’ but it has repeatedly been damaged. When Ratzinger moved into the papal apartments in 2005, he suddenly had to go without a longtime confidante. Ingrid Stampa, the housekeeper who had succeeded his sister, was not permitted to join Ratzinger in his new quarters. She had been disgraced in the Vatican for having once pointed at St. Peter’s Square from the window of the pope’s apartment and waved to the crowd — an unforgivable faux pas.
“Instead, four lay sisters with the Memores Domini association — Loredana, Cristina, Manuela and Carmela — became his new housekeepers. They looked after him for five years, attended his prayers every morning, celebrated Christmas and saints’ days with him, and ate their meals with him.
“Then one of them, Manuela Camagni, was killed in a traffic accident in 2010. The pope was shaken. He knelt before her coffin, delivered a eulogy and spoke of the ‘unforgettable family-like moments’ he had enjoyed with her.
“With the betrayal of his butler, who had been at his side around the clock, the small world of Joseph Ratzinger has once again been thrown out of joint.
“Benedict has always seen himself as a teaching rather than a governing pontiff. The professor-pope from the small Bavarian village of Marktl am Inn will undoubtedly not go down in the annals of Church history as Benedict the Great.
“But he will be remembered as a church leader with a human face, as someone who has remained true to himself as a theologian, and as someone who turned his back on the power within his own four walls. In other words, as a pope with a lower-case p.”