At the very instant of the publication of this blog, Benedict XVI, Pontifex Maximus, is no more. Right now, his ring is being broken with a silver hammer by the Camerlengo, Cardinal Bertone, as is Benedict’s seal of office. The Vatican is now sede vacante pending the election of the new Pope by the College of Cardinals. In the interim the Camerlengo acts as de facto manager under the orders of the College, with the coat of arms below.
I quite liked Benedict and wish him well in retirement. He has extensive writings, has been a true scholar and probably deserving of the ultimate accolade of the Catholic Church after he dies: Doctor of the Church. He has had a very difficult eight years in the Petrine ministry, but has had difficulty in confronting some of the embedded problems of the Church. In 2005 I found myself attending his first Mass as Bishop of Rome at the Papal Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran (by accident – I was walking around Rome and saw a very long line leading into the basilica. It was a very moving service.
I don’t know the truth of the abuse charges levelled at some members of the Church, but suspect that the extent of the problems have been wildly exaggerated by enemies of the Church. In my personal experience I have never once seen any priest (or brother) act inappropriately and have found many to be wonderful Ambassadors for their religion (I went to a Catholic boys school).
The Church cannot be all things to all people. The Uniting Church has got to the point where even belief in God is optional. A church of agnostics and atheists is not a future for the Catholic Church.
Like him or not, Benedict has been a traditionalist and conservative. But that is what a Church that is 2000 years old must be. Fads come and go, but the Church must be a beacon of continuity; one doesn’t become ‘relevant’ and ‘up to date’ by compromising core principles and core beliefs.
George Cardinal Pell would be an excellent replacement. Perhaps it is time for the first Australian pope?
From Vatican Radio:
The Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will come to an end with the Sede Vacante (“Vacant See”) beginning at 8pm Rome time (7pm GMT). On the last full day of his pontificate, Pope Benedict will hold a special farewell meeting with members of the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall. At 4.55 p.m. the Pope will bid farewell to the pontifical household, and depart the Apostolic Palace by car from the San Damaso Courtyard. From there, he will be driven to the Vatican heliport, where he will be seen off by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. At 5.15 p.m. he will be flown to Castel Gandolfo, about 30 km from Rome. The Holy Father will then briefly greet the faithful of the Diocese of Albano from the central balcony of the Apostolic Palace. This will be the last public appearance of Pope Benedict XVI while in office. At 8 p.m, the reign of the 265th Pope, the 264th successor of St. Peter, will come to an end, having lasted 7 years, 10 months, and 9 days.
Here are Benedict’s final public words as Pope, translated by Vatican Radio:
Thank you, thank you from my heart. I am happy to be here with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your friendship that does me so much good, thank you for your friendship, for caring.
You know that today is different from others… as of eight pm I will no longer be the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. I will simply be a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth.
But with my heart, my love, my prayer, with all my interior strength, I will work for the common good and the good of the Church and all humanity.
And I feel greatly supported by your affection. Let us move forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world.
I will now impart upon you all my Apostolic Blessing
Thank you and good night. Thank you all