Why are you grateful for Pope Benedict?

12 February 2020
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during the general audience in St Peter's Square, Vatican City, 26 March, 2008. Image: Broc/Wikimedia Commons.


On the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic resignation, Catholic Outlook is publishing this 2013 article from Thinking Faith asking four authors to tell us why they are thankful for his ministry during his eight-year papacy.

Niall Keenan, Angela Kitching, John Moffatt SJ and Anouska Robinson-Biggin fcJ take this opportunity to express their gratitude for Pope Benedict.

Niall Keenan

I remember being overcome with emotion when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. I suppose I had taken Pope John Paul II for granted – in my living memory he had always been pope. But now here was something new. The humility of Pope Benedict XVI’s opening words struck me: ‘a poor labourer in the Lord’s vineyard.’ I was gripped; I wanted to know him better.

Angela Kitching

Retirement is usually defined as the time when someone stops working completely because they are eligible to claim a pension, have failing health, or because regulations require them to stop working. In his statement to announce his resignation, Pope Benedict acknowledged that age and illness had led to his decision: he said, ‘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.’ It would be reasonable to assume from these words that the Pope’s age was a burden to him; but the reason I am grateful to Benedict XVI is for being a positive witness to the strengths and values of old age.

John Moffatt SJ

After being elected 8 years ago, Pope Benedict had a tough act to follow. John Paul II had won people over by his charisma and integrity. Joseph Ratzinger was a quiet man, an academic theologian. His job in Rome had been to call other theologians to account for potential deviation from official Catholic teaching – hence his nick-name, ‘God’s Rottweiler’. There was an expectation that he would lead an effort to make Catholicism more ‘like it used to be’ – at least in the minds of some.

Anouska Robinson-Biggin fcJ

My gratitude for Benedict XVI is not so much for what he has written, though his encyclicals, particularly Caritas in Veritate, were a pleasure to study when I was living in Canada for a year. I have been more touched by his personal witness of being a man of God, at the service of the Church.

To continue reading the article, click here. With thanks to Thinking Faith.


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