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I will thank God for Pope Benedict on Thursday night

Pope Benedict XVI’s inspiring courage will be his lasting legacy

By on Friday, 22 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI  Photo: Press Association

Pope Benedict XVI Photo: Press Association

Next week many parish churches will be holding special services of thanksgiving to mark the end of the reign of Benedict XVI. In the past the end of Pope’s reign was marked by Requiem Masses and a funeral in Rome; but not this time. Now, for the first time ever, we can thank the Lord for all he has given us in the Papal reign now drawing to a close, without having to mark the death of a Pope.

So, what has Benedict given us? It is still to early to talk about what politicians call “legacy”, and Benedict is a pastor not a politician, but there are several things that he has left us which perhaps have changed the Church permanently for the better, and which we can keep in mind when we recite the Te Deum at the end of the month.

The first must be the Ordinariate. Benedict has been called the Pope of Christian Unity, and so he is. He has brought into unity a substantial stream of tradition that was diverted away from it at the Reformation. He has, in an important way, reintegrated part of the Body of Christ. The numbers in the Ordinariate are small, for the moment, but the principle it establishes is of incalculable value, and the ordinariates around the world will grow.

The second great achievement must be, though this may seem paradoxical, the negotiations with the Society of Saint Pius X. These have shown that the Pope has been devoted to rescuing the wandering sheep. These sheep in particular, unlike the Anglo-Catholics, have refused to be rescued, but chosen to stay outside the Roman fold. In so doing they consign themselves to oblivion, and they absolve both Church and Pope of the blame for their predicament. For in taking such time to negotiate with the SSPX, Pope Benedict has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Society is not Catholic, despite its protestations to the contrary. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia.

While changing the Church’s relations with those outside, Benedict has also changed the atmosphere inside the Church too. He has placed huge and correct emphasis on the Liturgy, on the dignity of celebration, and on the importance of music. This is something that those who follow him will not be able to undo: there can be no “de-Ratzingerization”, for we have now all seen the way that the Liturgy can be celebrated, and having seen that, why should anyone want to go back to the old ways? A rising tide lifts all keels. Every parish in the English-speaking world is affected by the new translation of the Roman Missal and must be aware of the renewed interest in the ars celebrandi.

As a sign of this third great achievement, look at the status of the Extraordinary Form. It is now mainstream. It is no longer a relic, but part of the living tradition of the Church. People are now beginning to take more of an interest in liturgy – people, rather than liturgical experts. Benedict has inaugurated an era where the Church is becoming a liturgically literate Church.

Fourthly, the Pope has addressed much of his teaching towards the Old Continent, Europe. This does not mean he is not interested in the Americas or Africa or Asia; what it does mean is that he has an acute historical sense: the battle for Christianity was lost in Europe, and will be won again in Europe. The great defeat in the centuries following the French Revolution does not mean that we leave the field, but rather that this field needs to be reconquered. Just as the deChristianisation of Europe took centuries, so will its reChristianisation take many years. But for the Faith, there are no hopeless places, no no-go areas. In tackling secularisation and in refusing to accept defeat, Benedict has put new heart into the Church.

Finally, the Pope has shown us by his personal example how we are to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The enemies of the Church and the enemies of God are everywhere, even in the Vatican itself, as the Vatileaks scandal showed us. The importance of loyalty and discipline must not be underestimated; neither must the importance of courage. We must be prepared for storms to come. Benedict goes off into peaceful retirement, which is well-deserved; his successor will not be given an easy ride, but the courage of Benedict shows us the importance of holding firm, having faith, and not being intimidated.

For these reasons, and for many others, I, along with countless others, will be thanking God for Pope Benedict on Thursday night.

  • Laurence England


  • Osserv

    Benedict’s legacy in a nutshell: tracts of land reclaimed from the desert of destroyed love.

  • Peter

    “The enemies of the Church and the enemies of God are everywhere…We must be prepared for storms to come. ”

    As mankind advances and gains a greater knowledge of creation through a deeper understanding of recent discoveries, what becomes clear, what comes into focus, is that the ancient doctrines of the Catholic Church, defended for centuries against, heretics, pagans, gnostics and atheists, are steadily revealing themselves to be true.

    That the Church holds the deposit of truth is both a massive joy and a massive burden which makes her the target of renewed hostility and opposition from every quarter.

    There is the intellectual attack from neo-atheism which has increased in its shrillness and intensity, and there is the physical attack from other religions who resent the Church’s resilience.  Finally, there is the attack from within which takes various insiduous forms.

    Many scientists who are Christians but not Catholics such as John Polkinghorne, Russell Stannard, Francis Collins, Paul Davies,  Alister McGrath, John Lennox and Edgar Andrews, have bravely and ably fought the rising tide of neo-atheism, grounded as it is in western Europe and to a lesser extend in north America.

    However, they have been unable to deliver the coup de grace because their arguments, extensive and persuasive as they are, fall short of proving the existence of God.

    Only the Catholic Church has proof of God’s existence by virtue of her divinely-inspired doctrines which she has stubbornly guarded for centuries, and which only now are revealing themselves to be true.

    This gradual revelation of the Church as the undisputed guardian of the truth is an enormous burden for her to carry, making her the target of a renewed wave of hostility and opposition which will only intensify as time goes on.

    As it says above, we must be prepared for it. 

  • Benedict Carter

    It is fortunate that Benedict XVI lasted long enough as Pope that the new pope will no longer have to be judged by John Paul II’s standards and priorities. God help the Church, if the next Pope rather than cleaning house and restoring the Faith as Benedict XVI tried to do, instead restores the priorities, agenda, and gestures of John Paul II. 

  • Benedict Carter

    “For in taking such time to negotiate with the SSPX, Pope Benedict has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Society is not Catholic …”.

    What utter and complete illogical nonsense. The conclusion hardly follows from the premise. 

    The Pope HIMSELF has said they are not schismatics ERGO they are Catholic.

    Please define “not Catholic”. 

  • Jonathan West

    Once you’ve done that, could you ask the headmaster’s of St. Hugh of Lincoln RC Primary School and St. John The Baptist RC Comprehensive School in your parish very nicely if they would publish their safeguarding policies online so that both current and prospective parents can see how the school handles safeguarding incidents?

  • Mazzle

    I must second what Benedict Carter said with respect to the SSPX. Someone did not do his research before his unfounded, uninformed diatribe.
    Peter rightly points out below that the Church is being attacked on all fronts by “heretics, pagans, gnostics and atheists…” You can add schismatics to the list, and the SSPX does not fall under any of those categories.
    In fact, I would challenge you to find any Novus Ordo parish with a more solid catechetical foundation than an SSPX parish. I would challenge you to find a Novus Ordo catholic high school with a more pious, learned student body than, say, Notre Dame de la Salette in Illinois.
    Any even cursory viewing of Bishop Fellay’s comments about the dialogue with Rome show that they are not on some offensive against Rome and the Catholic faith. Quite the opposite. They endure persecutions and unjust attacks from others most of the time simply regurgitating what they have heard from others.
    This is, in fact, exactly what our Lord said would happen to those who follow Him. So it is to be expected.

    There is a subtle hint of promotion of the ecumenism which has spread in the Church like wildfire in the last 50 years burning up much of Catholic Tradition in its path.
    This so-called “interfaith dialogue” has gone in the face of everything the Church spoke out against since its inception in Jesus Christ Himself, most recently with Pope Pius XII
    Pope Pius XII, On the Ecumenical Movement, 1949
    They shall also be on guard lest, on the false pretext that more attention should
    be paid to the points on which we agree than to those on which we differ, a
    dangerous indifferentism be encouraged…That communicatio in sacris (aka praying with other faiths/partaking in other worship ceremonies) be entirely avoided…Although in all these meetings and
    conferences any communication whatsoever in worship must be avoided.
    (St Alphonsus Liguori in his Theologia Moralis. This doctor of the church writes, ‘It
    is not permitted to be present at the sacred rites of infidels and heretics in such a
    way that you would be judged to be in communion with them

    I will remind you of a few other key quotes which no one can deny:
    Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, 1442…Christians, with all discord between them banished, should come together inthe same purity of faithPope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 1928, #10the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the onetrue Church of Christ of those who are separated from it… whosoever thereforeis not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion withChrist its head.Nicene CreedWe believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

    Father, with all due respect and honor, you should be focusing your energies on the real enemies of the Church, those referenced above (heretics et al), including those liberal/modernist “catholics” (priests, religious and lay) who are doing their best – whether intentionally or not – to destroy the Church.

    “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all filthiness.”
    “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me,scattereth.”

  • Benedict Carter

    It’s mostly wasted effort with these people Mazzle. 

  • Sweetjae

    Well, it’s just taking ones own medicine Mr. Carter! SSPX’ case has been dragging for more 40 years already with 5, I mean FIVE [5] consecutive Supreme Pontiffs passed by already, the last one Benedict16 had ‘lifted’ the latae sentenciae of excommunications to all bishops, he issued Summorum Pontificum, offered regularization by Ordinaraite, constantly and humbly calling SSPX to come in BUT instead what did the SSPX do with all these acts of good faith of the Holy Father? They can not even reciprocate, then complain!

    SSPX and you are also lightning quick to condemn and issue anathemas to all those liberal heresies but don’t consider your own as not being heretical too. (deliberate refusal to the authority of duly convened Council, 5-Popes, calling Pauline Mass evil etc).

    Is those the characteristics of setting oneself as an alternate magisterium similarly found with the Modernists????

  • scary goat

      It’s not wasted effort, Benedict.  All the stuff I learned from you has
    been an education and a half….and I’m glad you opened my eyes to
    those things.  I had noticed “anomalies” before, but didn’t realise
    their significance…nor where they came from….now I know….and it’s
    worth knowing.  I choose to stay “mainstream”….I can’t see how I can
    do otherwise (in good conscience)….but I am not ignorant anymore and
    still working on it slowly.  Although I prefer to stay where I am, I am
    sympathetic to SSPX and understand who they are and why. I hope in the
    next papacy things will progress further and we may see SSPX recognised
    and reconciled.  Keep posting. :-)

    (This was supposed to be a reply to your other post….but it’s coming up with an error.  I am guessing they are deleting stuff).

  • Sweetjae

    Cleaning house is always good because by nature men are concupiscent but what restoration of the Faith are you talking about?? SSPX is a BIG part of that problem they shared with the Modernists.

  • scary goat

     I don’t think it’s quite that simple, Sweet.  :-)

  • Benedict Carter

    Scary, ok, here’s something for you to read and think about. Read if you would be so kind the last four current threads on Rorate Caeli blog and read ALL of the comments. Any questions, you can reach me on (don’t worry, I have about ten email addresses and that one is rarely used).

  • Sweetjae

    Though I agree with you about the abuses inside the Church and share your pain but to blame the Teachings of a valid, legitimate convened Council of the Church is false.

    Your citations of St. Alfonsus and Mortalium Animos are taken out of context. You are reading between the lines to fit your presuppositions against the post-V2 Popes and the Church. Also these documents you quoted are not infallibles nor Dogmas.

    First with what St. Alfonsus said, where does V2 teach that Catholics can participate in pagan, infidels and heretics’ worship?

    Second, Mortalium Animos, though a pastoral letter NOT a Dogma, it just prohibits Catholics to engage in non-catholic associations just for the sake of false “Christian unity” and leaving the Catholic Faith behind. It didn’t prohibit Catholics to engage and dialogue with non-Catholics as long as done with the Catholic Faith in mind and permission from their Bishops.

    About inter-faith which is only about our dialogue and relationship with other non-christian faiths like Islam, Buddhism etc. Since for 2,000 years of Catholic Church history we have tried and didn’t even make a dent to convert these ‘infidels’, in fact they continue to spread and grow exponentially through the ages (don’t blame V2 for it) and with violent, bloody and chaotic history between us and them, so what do you and SSPX have in mind not to repeat this history??? Continue to say in their faces that they are heretics and their religion is evil?? What? Can you enlightened the Pope and us.

  • Sweetjae

    Thanks Scary goat. The problem facing the Church today can easily be remedied by only one path and only Key to open that path for her full restoration is, OBEDIENCE to the Church of Christ. That’s all it takes.

    How can SSPX claim they rather have Faith than Obedience, when one needs to accept (obedience) it first before he can have faith. There is no faith without obedience.

    Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary summed it all up, “I love Obedience, without it NO one can please Me”.

  • Herman U. Ticke

     According to (Feb 22, 2013), Benedict/Ratzinger is taking steps to avoid having to leave the Vatican state jurisdiction when he resigns, for fear of being arrested if he does so. 

    But, if true, this would be to anticipate the decision of his successor in allowing him to remain.

    So when a new Pope is chosen the suspicion will be that he, the new Pope, will have been chosen from a pool of Cardinals who are willing
    to agree in advance to allow Benedict/Ratzinger to stay in the Vatican.

    In other words it will not have been a free election.

    Which will compromise the credibility of the new Pope from the start.

    Whether the reports are true or not, and whether the fear of arrest is well-founded or not, is irrelevant.
    The only way to avoid this is to insist that Benedict/Ratzinger leave the Vatican after the election of his successor.

  • Benedict Carter

    Mazzle, this is what you will meet here. Quote a Pope who says 1+1=2, the likes of not-very-sweet J will tell you that the modern Church now says the answer is 83.34, and therefore your quote is taken out of context. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Don’t worry, I won’t be replying to his incomprehensible blatherings.

  • JabbaPapa

    Conspiracy Theories ‘R’ Us !!!

    The only way to avoid this is to insist that Benedict/Ratzinger leave the Vatican after the election of his successor

    What a horrid, petty suggestion !!!

    It is VERY unlikely that the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith might be unaware of the duties of obedience of a Cardinal to the Authority of the Holy Father …

  • JabbaPapa

    oh deary deary me, your monotone is so tedious !

  • Benedict Carter

    If I was the new Pope, I would sit down with JR, have a few days’ thorough discussion on various topics, and then ask him to go Monte Cassino immediately and stay there. 

  • Corbus

    I am guilty of being an under-performing Catholic in many ways. But in Benedict I have I found an inspirational leader; humble yet heroic. February 28 is likely to leave a fair few with heavy hearts.

    I suspect the rule book will now be rewritten when it comes to papal tenancies. Unique among the few global command posts whose end is marked by death. I think it will be modified with a retirement clause. But let’s hope they keep votes of confidence out of the mix during a papal tenure. I would worry that with the idea of retirement becoming a norm, pressure shouldn’t be applied by power broking aides and insiders to even those popes you mightn’t much like.

  • JabbaPapa

    If I were the new Pope, I would assure the maximum level of legal protection possible from malicious lawsuits brought by rabid anti-Catholics worldwide.

    Your proposal is both unrealistic, and uncharitable.

    Also — if I were the new Pope, I’d simply ask Cardinal Ratzinger for his filial obedience, and ask him to continue writing.

  • Sweetjae

    I have been to their blog and the same argument is contained by SSPX which are based mostly on misrepresentations and inferences.

    Some comments are outright Sedevacantists and Sedeprivationists.

    The blog sometimes censore some good counter rebuttals from those who are loyal to the Pope and Magisterium and labelled us as Modernists the likes of Hans Kung.

  • Sweetjae

    Conspiracy theory. Blaming the Pope is like blaming the President, Prime Minister or the Secretary of Education (29,000 child abuse cases compared with 290 of the Catholic Church) for the offenses of deviant school teachers.

  • Sweetjae

    If I were the Pope I would issue anathemas to all those who espoused heretical ideas and recalcitrant refusal to Church’s Authority, whether coming from the Modernists and the so called ‘traditionalists’. They are the cause of disfiguring the Body of Christ.

  • greatermanchesterman

    Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic has said he believes priests should be able to marry if they wish to do so.

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien said it was clear many priests struggled to cope with celibacy, and should be able to marry and have children.

    The cardinal will be part of the conclave that chooses the next Pope.

  • daclamat

    There is a lot of sycophantic twaddle being talked. Heroic, clear sighted, learned he certainly was as Cardinal Fring’s advisor at Vatican team. Qualities that deserted him, until he found his spiritual home in the curia, firing anathemas and stacking the electoral college with like minded blinkered clerics. If deciding to quit is courageous and revolutionary I shudder to think of the harm his successor will do if he comes from the same stable

  • JabbaPapa

    “blinkered” ???

    hmmmmm, try looking in a mirror, if you can manage to find one inside that narrow field of vision of yours …

  • JabbaPapa

    Good thing you won’t be, then.

    You sound like you would be an utterly atrocious dictator !!!

  • scary goat

     Ok…I just sent you a test email to verify email addresses.  My email starts with om_7…………..
    Thanks :-)

  • Donatusjustin

    Faith comes first, followed by Hope and Charity. True obedience is hard to find these days. What you are promoting is ‘false obedience’. Obey God first, then man.

  • Donatusjustin

    I totally agreed with you Benedict Carter. SSPX is Catholic. To date, no one has ever proven even one heresy coming from the SSPX. What do I want from the Church? True doctrine. Where can I get the true Catholic doctrines these days? SSPX.

  • Simon Perry

    Not sure about the ordinariate to honest. As for rescuing lost sheep, why does always seem to be that the vatican bend over backwards to rescue wayward sheep on the right and not on the left. Bit odd. Perhaps if Cardinal Schonborn were to become Pope we would have a bit of reaching out to those lost sheep on the left, after all there are far more of em, and they are perhaps more numerous, persuasive and dangerous! Just a thought

  • Simon

    SSPX not Catholic. Sure it is if by Catholic you mean inquisition loving, Protestant bashing, Jew baiting, Anti Magisterial, Anti just about everything!  Seriously, this society is difficult to perceive as Catholic, but i’m sure there some individuals within it trying their best.

  • Alban

    I thought you were the Pope in absentia!

  • LocutusOP

    We have much to thank Pope Benedict XI.

    I would put the return of the Tridentine Mass at the top of the list though.

    I am very sympathetic to the SSPX, and think the Church should spend much more time fighting the heretics who refuse to leave and bolt themselves down into the Church than those who from without assert that we need to revert to the full deposit of faith.

    On the other hand, it’s time for the SSPX to show some humility and join the fold so they can help the Church rid itself of its heretical elements.

  • Peter

    When the cat’s away the mice will play.

  • Jonathan West

    According to some who comment here, (yes, I mean you JabbaPapa) since that is a doctrinal difference with the Pope, O’Brien has automatically excommunicated himself for saying so, and you will have an apostate in the conclave.

  • Cassandra

    So you are taken in by a scam! Congratulations!

  • adamson

     Well said

  • Eleni Tsigante

    The Greek Orthodox church allows priests to marry. However this means they are not able to rise higher in the church but stay as parish priests.

  • scary goat

     No they don’t.  They ordain married men. There’s a difference.

  • Cassandra

    No! Please get this straight. The orthodox churches allowed married men to become priest. I have met a number of married and I unmarried priest and I have been impressed by their quality.

  • JabbaPapa

    We have much to thank Pope Benedict XI

    Pope Benedict XI was one of the less palatable Popes we have ever had — thank Heaven that our current Pope is both humble and faithful !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes you don’t half talk ignorant rubbish sometimes …

    1) ALL Catholics, with the possible exception of the Pope, may express whichever personal opinions on the question of the marriage of priests, as we wish.

    2) Not every doctrinal disagreement with Church teaching is heretical as such.

    3) You clearly do not understand the differences between simple doctrinal disagreement, actual heresy, and formal apostasy.

    One cannot automatically excommunicate oneself for expressing personal views supportive of married priests.

  • rigmarole

    AMEN! *sobbing*

  • Philip Maguire

    What an absurd lot of nonsense. The Society of Pope Pius X is Catholic and always will be. My children go to a Pius X school where they are receiving an excellent Catholic education. We go to Society masses, usually, but we have no problem going to the Novus Ordo if we have to. Generally speaking I can’t stand the music at Novus Ordo Masses. It usually consists of middle aged ladies who can’t sing in tune warbling words about God telling us how good He is to us. At least at Society Masses we tell God how good He is to us and thank Him for it.

    Of course there are fringe elements in the SSPX. You’re not going to tell me they won’t exist in the Ordinariates or that they don’t exist in the Novus Ordo Church in general. Of course they do. All I can say is that among my friends the feeling is that Benedict has been a good Pope and that his legacy will shine in future days. And of course we’re relieved that Richard Williamson is no longer part of the SSPX.

  • Philip Maguire

    The SSPX was not offered an Ordinariate. It was offered a Personal Prelature. Somewhat different. An Ordinariate would be better. But let me ask you a question. It is it a good thing that only ex Anglicans and their families can join the Anglican Ordinariate? Is it good that they refer to themselves as Anglo Catholics as opposed to Roman Catholics? It is Roman Catholic or isn’t it? Is our Church one or many? Food for thought, perhaps.

  • Luisa Navarro

    That silly use of the adjective ‘Roman’ before ‘Catholic’ is exclusive to England and the English-speaking world; everywhere else, we don’t have a chip on our shoulder like Anglicans do, pretending to be Catholic “but not Roman”…