15-February-2013 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Pope's resignation is not 'a defeat,' says Vatican observer

Pope Benedict's decision to abdicate his office is "neither a defeat nor a surrender" but is a "supernatural wager," an Italian journalist and Vatican commenter has said.

"In resigning, he has recognized that he can no longer move it forward with his diminished strength. And he has trusted the conclave to elect a new pope with the strength necessary to do the job," wrote analyst Sandro Magister in L'Espresso on Feb. 14.

"His is a supernatural wager that recalls that of his predecessor John Paul in the last painful years of his life."

Magister highlighted the similarity between the decision of John Paul II to remain pope until his death, and Pope Benedict's decision to abdicate, despite their seeming contradiction.

"The charisma of John Paul II and the rationality of Benedict XVI are the two inseparable sides of the last two pontificates, the cipher of which is found in their respective final acts," he said.

Both pontiffs saw the challenges facing the Church, and had to entrust her to providence and a successor as pope, he explained.

Magister cited Pietro De Marco, a professor at the University of Florence who observed that "the supreme risk of John Paul II in governing the Church with his suffering being obtained the miracle of the election of Pope Benedict."

In the same way, De Marco said, "the risk, just as radical, of Benedict in handing the leadership of the Church back to Christ in order that he may give the burden of it to a new and vigorous pope will obtain another pontiff equal to the challenge of history."

Pope Benedict did not leave the Church unguarded at a "moment of danger," Magister said, but waited for a time of peacefulness to step down, realizing he no longer has the vigor that the office of pope demands in our time.

The Holy Father's resignation in no way obliges future popes to do the same, he added, as the decision lies entirely with each Bishop of Rome, responsible to God and his conscience.

During the period of "sede vacante" between popes, the last two Vatican secretaries of state will function as governors of the Church. These are Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who has served since 2006, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who retired in 2006 after a15-year tenure in the office.

Magister believes that Cardinal Bertone, who is 78, will not be re-appointed secretary of state by the next pope.

The Vatileaks scandal exposed in-fighting within the Roman Curia, which Pope Benedict was unable to reform entirely, he said, noting that the pontiff was opposed in his efforts to fight clergy sex abuse and to reform the Vatican's finances.

"Over his nearly eight years of pontificate, Benedict XVI has been resolute and farsighted in indicating the destinations and keeping the rudder straight. But on the barque of Peter, the crew has not always been faithful to him," he observed.

The next pope will have responsibility for completing a reform of the Roman Curia, and will be chosen from among the 117 cardinals who in mid-March will meet in conclave.

Magister also waded into the sea of speculation about the 'papabile.' He suggested the possibility of Cardinal Angelo Scola, the 71-year-old Archbishop of Milan, the position held by Paul VI at the time of his election.

Cardinal Scola was tutored by the founders of the international magazine 'Communio' and is a disciple of Father Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation movement. He is also a former Patriarch of Venice. In the 20th century, the Church in Venice saw three of its patriarchs elected pope: Saint Pius X, Blessed John XXIII, and John Paul I.

From North America, Magister offered Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 69, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. He also mentioned American cardinals Timothy Dolan and Sean O'Malley.

Outside of the Western world, Magister suggested the name of Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila. However, he said, the prelate was elevated to cardinal only last November and is author of a "progressive" history of the Second Vatican Council, somewhat at odds with Pope Benedict's "hermeneutic of continuity."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=7036#ixzz2LGv4NP4i

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