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Perhaps Benedict XVI believed he could not stay holy while handling the Curia

The Pope has repeatedly rebuked the Curia, saying officials should not seek power. But, in the Vatican, power is a core business

By on Thursday, 14 February 2013

Benedict XVI talks with former papal butler Paolo Gabriele (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI talks with former papal butler Paolo Gabriele (Photo: CNS)

Some prophets had foretold that the Pope would resign: Bishop Luigi Bettazzi a year ago, for instance, and Catholic journalist Antonio Socci in September 2011: both “vox clamantis in deserto”.

Why has this happened? It may take a long time for the real story to emerge. We might risk one line of speculation now: the Pope has resigned to remain holy in his short path towards heaven. The papacy does not seem to be a good place to preserve holiness. As Pope Gregory the Great wrote: “For we, under the colour of ecclesiastical government, are tossed in the billows of this world, which frequently overwhelm us.” Pope Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini, said something similar when was asked if he wanted to be elected Pope (my translation): “I have a great will to go to heaven and I agree with Pius V, who said: ‘As long as I was a priest I had a great hope to go there, as a cardinal I had doubts, as a Pope I despaired.’”

Just before being elected, Joseph Ratzinger showed his view of the Roman Curia, during the Via Crucis in 2005, when he said: “What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him!”

During his papacy Benedict XVI has rebuked his Curia several times, reminding officials that the Church should not seek power and richness, and that priests should not enter politics. But those who know about the Vatican cannot deny that power is a core business there, and seems to remain so despite Benedict XVI’s struggle. The Pope is, in his own mind, too old now, and passes on the torch to somebody younger, who will have the strength to continue his battle.

  • polycarped

    “Pope Benedict XVI, Prospero Lambertini”.  That’ll be Pope Benedict XIV. 

  • Jeannine

    Does anyone really think a younger pope can stop the filth?

    All the cardinals have lots of heavy baggage to carry; Pope Benedict seems to have been the only one to have the lightest.

  • Ghengis

    Prayer and contemplation is not enough in this world; this world is made for action. If a person is not up to the task of taking action then a monastery would be the place for him. Pope Benedict was a man of prayer and action and he got more done than most could have; he simply didn’t feel he could continue to meet his high expectation of himself which is why he is to be admired.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thanks – good spot. That has been corrected.

  • Yorkshire Catholic

    Perhaps the Vatican is full of intrigue and politics. As it happens the three or four people who work there that I have know have all been outstanding, both as priests and intelligent men. Far higher quality than the English hierarchy alas. But I suspect that Pope Benedict’s reasons are exactly as stated–and perhaps there is a medical aspect which we shall learn in due time. I am very grateful to him and he will have a warmer place in my memory than his predecessors. And his books will always be worth reading as are his sermons

  • Kerriblu

    We can only do as St Padre Pio advised: Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry!

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    TO BRING JESUS INTO THE CHURCH, get THE CHURCH de-institutionalised  gradually and give people their due right and roles in THE CHURCH. GO to the Gospels, it is the People who saved Jesus on many occasions from his enemies by their very presence.DO NOT CALL them lay people. They are People of God, if they are fed well with God’s Bread of THE WORD and not with human thinking and philosophy.

    REMEMBER, even the EUCHARIST is such because of the WORD OF GOD.  THE WORD OF GOD IS CENTRAL AND FOUNDATIONAL for the Church to thrive and not die like what happened in Europe.

    The work of feeding people with the Bread of THE WORD needs APOSTLES and not mere PRIESTS. PRIESTS are found also in Pagan religions.

    PROMOTE APOSTLESHIP IN THE WAY JESUS DID: St.Paul, 72 disciples, the young man who wanted to bury his father and then come and follow Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, The Queen of Apostles Mother Mary and man more…These were all outside of the original 12 Apostles of Jesus the Lord. PROMOTION OF APOSTLESHIP IS THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM; IF IT IS NOT DONE THE enemy no. one WILL CONQUER…..

    stop MAKING Bishops, Cardinals, Archbishops too many intermediate politicians of THE institutionalsational process. INSTEAD  make APOSTLES. For this Promote an atmosphere of those who PROCLAIM GOD’S WORD.

    IDENTIFY Churches like The Syrian Catholic Church of Kerala which actively PROMOTES THE PROCLAMATION OF GOD’S WORD under THE APOSTLE GEORGE ALENCHERRY, and give lead positions to such Churches in the CHURCH OF ST.PETER.

    MAKE  PROVISIONS for the representative of CHRIST THE LORD on earth, the Pope live a life relevant and close to the people.


  • Parasum

      “…both “vox clamantis in deserto”.”

    ## “Both” is plural. “Vox” is singular. Grade for grammar: F- 

    “We might risk one line of speculation now: the Pope has resigned to remain holy in his short path towards heaven.”

    ## The Pope would be well able to see what is wrong in such thinking, so that is unlikely to be a reason.  

  • Eithena Tarr

    Why o why can.t u just accept that what He said is the truth ?mayb thats y even when JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS people didnt believe

  • Sanddwood

    I have no idea of what this ranting is about, what is the essence of your thought?

  • Demahony

    Poor Benedict.  More sinned against than sinning?  He does not appear to be an administrator and manager or a Machiavellian organiser.  His undoubted strengths may well be utter holiness and a profound intellect. Perhaps the Vatican Leviathan was/is too difficult to manage.  I do not envy him and see him more as the ample bosom of Cleopatra in plunged into a bowl of asps.

  • Benedict Carter

    It’s a modern Jesuit for you. They are like the Levellers of the 17th century and should be suppressed.

  • FabioPBarbieri

    Why not say that Luther and Calvin were right and leave it at that?

  • JabbaPapa

    Grade for useless pedantry : A+

    Grade for civility and kindness : F- 

  • Sweetjae

    Father with all due respect but discipleship? Apostleships? Representative of the people? Eradicate Bishops and Archbishops?

    I think it sounded more like the Mormons or Jehovah’s.

    Church hierarchy is founded solidly and explicitly on Biblical grounds, are you aware of these,Father Thomas?

  • Sweetjae

    I second the motion. There will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing since the First Day of the Church 2,000 years ago.

    Long live B16.

  • Elizabeth Hall1159

    All priests and even pontiffs have their own strengths and weaknesses and sometimes these are developed by the demands the church places upon them and not how they wish to live themselves.  We just have to be grateful for those that do what they can to develop our faith and take responsibility ourselves for how we believe and what we practice. 

  • Catholic Classical

    Beautifully said Yorkshire Catholic.  Benedict will have a special place in my heart, too!  His leadership in renewing the liturgy has been his gift of the future, and to the young.

    His efforts to “Reform the Reform” has focused on repairing the damage of Vat II, paritcularly Paul VI’1 banal Mass.

    His reorientating the Church towards the mysticism of God, and his call for conversion of heart mand mind through faith and reason is his other great legacy.   

    JP II  did many wodnerfully things; faced down radical aetheism, materialism and the modernists, however he neglected unraveling of the liturgy and the damage this was doing on the faith of the young. He did very little to stop these abuses on the mind and soul – on the faith.

    Benedict did much to repair this banality of Novus Ordo, and over time his reform of the reform will gather pace and significance in leading to a true renewal among the remaining faithful.

    I believe history will judge him well.

  • JabbaPapa

    Prayer and contemplation is not enough in this world

    hmmmm …

    this world is made for action

    … but : No.

    Prayer, contemplation, LOVE.

  • Peter

    Love is a “doing” word.