How is a protestant supposed to react to such news? With sensitivity, I hope.
While we might struggle to come to grips with the theology that the Pope symbolises, we can reminisce on Pope Benedict XVI’s contributions.
Let’s start with the negatives.
I think that it is fair to say that most people expected the Pope to tackle the sex abuse scandals in North America and Europe with a little more vigor than has been demonstrated. The issues to this day are still floating because no decisive action has been taken by the papacy to deal with them. Bags not being the next pope that has to clean it up.
And who could forget the 2012 incident regarding the butler, in the library with the secret letters. I don’t know what to make of it, but surely it’s not a good look to have a Cluedo-like scenario unfolding in the Vatican.
Then there was the 2006 speech (or should we call it a blunder?) when he claimed that Mohammad brought the world only ‘evil and inhumane’ things. Ok, so even if you believe it, as the Pope you can’t say that.
The final blunder of note, in my books, came in 2009 when he decried the use of condoms with reference to stemming the spread of HIV. Interestingly, in a stroke of human biological oversight (let’s be generous) he claimed that the use of condoms would make the problem worse. Now, the Pope can argue all he likes about the merits of birth control, but to say that using condoms would increas the HIV problem is a little naive.
Why don’t we move on the positives.
Pope Benedict XVI was a warrior in the face of a growing tide of secularism, especially on the continent. He pushed for Christianity to persevere in the marketplace of ideas. The ‘New Evangelisation’ was a message he took not only to the Church, but also to the most powerful leaders in the world. Indeed, Michael Cameron has stated that the Pope’s visit to England in 2010 with this message had a bearing on his political position on the matter.
I also liked his hands on style. Remember back to 2012 when he wrote a letter to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to let him know that he didn’t appreciate the way that Christians were being treated in Iran. That’s what I’m talking about.
Finally, and on this note I will finish the post, he demonstrates wisdom in stepping from the office of the Bishop of Rome before he could not carry out his duties anymore.
This takes humility, wisdom and love for the church.