Steubenville, Ohio, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict's decision to resign as Bishop of Rome shows how the papacy is an office not of power but of service, reflected author and professor Dr. Scott Hahn.
“It seems to me this might be for him, the most humble and obedient act of service that he can render in his own conscience,” Hahn, a professor of Biblical theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, told CNA Feb. 11.
“It's a profound reminder that the papacy is not an office of power, but one of service, and so, if anybody has had a sense of servant-hood, it is Pope Benedict.”
Hahn said that while the decision is a surprise, in retrospect, “we can see the clues.”
He recounted that a friend of his who taught in Rome for some fifty years “in December told a friend of mine and me that he knew, that he had heard, that within three months the Pope would resign.”
“In some ways I'm surprised at how surprised I am,” Hahn said. He pointed out that Pope Benedict had said in a 2010 interview with Peter Seewald that a Pope has “a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.”
Of the 256 Bishops of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI is the third to clearly resign, and the second to do so freely. The previous two were Gregory XII in 1415, who resigned to resolve the Western Schism, and Saint Celestine V in 1294.
Perhaps foreshadowing his decision to step down, Pope Benedict twice visited the relics of St. Celestine while he was Pope. In 2009, he prayed at the tomb and left his own pallium – an episcopal vestment worn over the shoulders – on top of it. And again in 2010, he visited the cathedral of Sulmona to visit the relics of St. Celestine and pray before him.
Hahn noted that he and his family prayed together as soon as they heard of the Pope's decision, but as he considered it, these visits to St. Celestine came to mind.
“I began thinking about it, and when I hearkened back to those two seemingly irrelevant, or unimportant stops...Celestine V has always been an interesting figure in my study of the papacy, and I went and looked at this, and began to realize that this has been on his mind for a long time.”
As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger two or three times submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul II, Hahn noted.
“I'm sure the Holy Spirit will be steering the barque of Peter in a wonderful direction, but it is unsettling, because he is a father, and as we think of the Church as a family, there comes a time when a father becomes so old and infirm, that one of the most profound gestures of love might be to hand things over to the next one in line,” he observed.
“You can see this in Scripture too, David stepping down as king and appointing Solomon before he dies.”
Hahn reflected on the deep effect this decision is having on Catholics the world over.
“It's a hard thing to explain to outsiders, the mystery of a family bond that we all share, and how deeply we feel it. But here is a man who is a father figure to us all, and not just in a kind of symbolic way, but inasmuch as we are really united in a new birth, and the flesh and blood of the Eucharist, and this man, we know him to be our father, even more than our natural dads at one level.”
He contrasted the witnesses of Pope Benedict and his predecessor, saying both have something to offer the Church. “On the one hand, it was a profound thing for Blessed John Paul II to show us how to suffer and die.”
“On the other hand, here's a man who began when he was 78... so I think there's something magnanimous about this alternate direction that he's taking. It's not something that strikes a chord with me, there isn't a sliver of me saying, 'oh I'm glad he did it,' but I can see why, and I can see how, our Lord will use it.”
Hahn also discussed the profound thought of Pope Benedict.
“I was devouring this guy's stuff before I was even sure I was gonna become a Catholic. I like Balthasar, de Lubac, Congar, Danielou, and all the rest, but they couldn't hold a candle to this guy.”
Hahn recalled how he submitted the manuscript of his work “Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI” to an evangelical Protestant publishing house, expecting it to be turned down.
“But they didn't, and they picked it up enthusiastically. The editor in chief said, 'I had no idea that your Pope could make the Scriptures come alive, and the Scriptures saturate all of his theology.'”
Pope Benedict, Hahn said, is a man whose thinking, preaching and prayer are all “profoundly biblical.”
Vatican City, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In the conclave to elect Pope Benedict's successor, 11 of the 117 cardinals eligible to vote in the closed-room meeting will be Americans.
The Diocese of Rome will be “sede vacante” or vacant at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, when Pope Benedict's resignation goes into effect. On that day, 117 cardinals will be eligible to elect the successor to the Holy See. The conclave must begin within 20 days of his date of resignation.
All cardinals below the age of 80 come to Rome to participate in the conclave. Most of these cardinal-electors – 67 of the 117 – have been appointed by Pope Benedict himself.
Once the Diocese of Rome is vacant, nearly all offices of the Roman Curia, the administrative offices governing the Church, are suspended, and will have to be reconfirmed by the next pontiff. One of the few that continues, because of its urgent nature dealing with issues of absolution and indulgences, is the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Under rules re-established by Pope Benedict in 2007, the conclave must achieve a two-thirds majority to elect the Bishop of Rome.
The 11 Americans who will partake in the conclave include Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, the archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia. He is 77, and was ordained a priest for the Los Angeles archdiocese in 1961, and served in the Roman Curia and as archbishop of Saint Louis before his appointment to Philadelphia in 2003. That year he was elevated to cardinal, and then retired in 2011.
Ordained in Los Angeles alongside Cardinal Rigali in 1961, Cardinal William J. Levada is prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He became an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 1983, and is 76. He then served as archbishop in Portland and San Francisco before his appointment in the Roman Curia. He was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Benedict, who had held the post under Blessed John Paul II. Cardinal Levada was succeeded by Archbishop Gerhard L. Müller, who has yet to be named a cardinal.
Cardinal Francis E. George is the Archbishop of Chicago, and has served there since 1997. He is 76 and a religious, having been ordained for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1963. He served as bishop of Yakima and of Portland in Oregon before being appointed to Chicago. He was made a cardinal in 1998. He has already fought off two diagnoses of cancer.
Another religious among the cardinal-electors is Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, a Capuchin. He serves as Archbishop of Boston and is 68. He was ordained a priest in 1970. He was made coadjutor bishop of Saint Thomas, and then was bishop in Fall River and Palm Beach prior to his move to Boston in 2003. He was elevated to cardinal in 2006.
The Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien. He is 73, and was ordained for the New York archdiocese in 1965. He was rector of the North American College in Rome before he became an auxiliary for the Archdiocese of New York in 1996. He also served at the U.S. military archdiocese and in Baltimore prior to his current assignment. He was made a cardinal last year, shortly after his appointment as pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan followed Cardinal O'Brien as rector of the North American College, and is Archbishop of New York. He is 63, and in 1976 was ordained for the Saint Louis archdiocese. He was consecrated as auxiliary bishop of Saint Louis in 2001, then appointed archbishop of Milwaukee in 2002. He was made archbishop of New York in 2009, and elevated to cardinal in 2012.
The Archbishop of Washington, D.C. is Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, who is 72. He was ordained a priest of Pittsburgh in 1966 and was consecrated as auxiliary bishop of Seattle in 1985. He later served as bishop of his home diocese before being appointed to Washington in 2006. He has been a cardinal since 2010.
Also ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh is Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo who is now Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. He is 63 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. He was later bishop of Sioux City. He became coadjutor bishop of Galveston-Houston in 2004, and its head in 2006. The following year he was appointed a cardinal.
Cardinal James M. Harvey is Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls. He too is 63, and was ordained for the Milwaukee archdiocese in 1975. In 1998 he became prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, and was appointed titular bishop of Memphis in 1998. He is among the newest group of cardinals, having been elevated on Nov. 24.
One of the Americans already in Rome is Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the supreme tribunal of the Church. He is 64, and was ordained for the Diocese of La Crosse in 1975. He became bishop there in 1995, and was then archbishop of Saint Louis before his present post began in 2008. He was named a cardinal in 2010.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony is the archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, and is 76. He was ordained a priest for Fresno in 1962, and became an auxiliary bishop there in 1975. He subsequently served as bishop of Stockton and then of Los Angeles before his retirement in 2011. He was made a cardinal in 1991. Just two weeks ago he was stripped of his duties in Los Angeles by the present bishop there, Bishop José H. Gomez for his role in covering up clergy sex abuse, though he remains a cardinal-elector.
Baltimore, Md., Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pro-life advocates are urging an end to third-trimester abortions in response to the death of a 29-year-old woman who underwent the procedure at a Maryland clinic run by Dr. Leroy Carhart.
“It is so tragic that this family had to lose not only their nearly full-term child, but also their wife, daughter, and sister,” said Michael Martelli, executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Life. “What is most appalling is that the State of Maryland refused to hear the pleas of this community, and has allowed this man to continue to butcher women and children.”
The pro-life group said that on the same day the woman died, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced on its website that it issued an abortion license to Carhart’s clinic without inspecting the facility.
It also noted that Carhart was recently portrayed as a “hero” in the documentary “After Tiller,” which debuted at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
The documentary featured Carhart as one of only four doctors in America who perform third-trimester abortions. It claimed to show the great care that these doctors exercise with regard to their patients.
However, Martelli said in a Feb. 8 statement that the woman’s death was a “senseless tragedy” that resulted from a false sense of health care and “the apathy of the pro-abortion Maryland state government.”
On Feb. 7, a woman died at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Md. after reportedly beginning a multi-day abortion procedure at Carhart’s Germantown Reproductive Health Services in Germantown, Md. the previous Sunday.
The Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Montgomery County Police Department are investigating the woman’s death, the Washington Post reports.
According to Operation Rescue, pro-life witnesses outside the clinic said the woman had come from New York for a third-trimester abortion. She visited the clinic each day through Wednesday and appeared “pale and weak.”
The woman reportedly began suffering chest pain and other discomfort on the morning of Feb. 7. She unsuccessfully tried to reach Carhart, and her family took her from a hotel to the hospital at about 5 a.m. Thursday morning.
Hospital staff members were also unable to contact Carhart or get assistance from his clinic, Operation Rescue said, citing an anonymous source.
The woman suffered massive internal bleeding and died about 9:30 a.m.
“The avoidable death of this young woman dramatically illustrates the dangers of third trimester abortions that are done outside of the safety of obstetrical standards,” Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said Feb. 8.
“It is time for medical boards to put an end to these horrifically dangerous and barbaric third trimester abortions. If they do not, we can only expect Carhart and his associates to send more women to the morgue.”
He charged that the incident showed “shoddy practices” and “patient abandonment” that rise to the level of criminal conduct. However, Montgomery County Police Department spokesman Capt. Paul Starks told the Washington Post that there is not yet any indication of criminal activity in the case.
Newman urged the immediate passage of a late-term abortion ban “to protect other women and their viable babies from unnecessary injury and death.”
Carhart had previously sparked controversy as a defendant in the U.S. Supreme Court case Gonzales v. Carhart, which resulted in the 2007 ruling that some legislative limits on partial-birth abortion are constitutional.
He relocated much of his practice to Maryland from Nebraska after the state tightened restrictions on late-term abortions.
Vatican City, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Amid the buzz created by the Pope’s announcement that he will retire, it could be easy to miss the fact that his last Mass will be on Ash Wednesday and not in the normal location for the first day of Lent.
“It’s very clear that St. Peter’s is a much bigger church than Santa Sabina in Aventino, so for a celebration in which we expect there will be a lot of faithful, bishops and cardinals who wish to be present to pray together with the Pope, St. Peter’s Basilica was chosen spontaneously,” Father Federico Lombardi told CNA Feb. 12.
“It’s a natural motive of space and it’s also necessary to bear in mind that this will probably be the last big liturgical celebration, the last Mass, presided over by the Pope with the cardinals.
“So it’s normal that it occurs in his church, in St. Peter’s Basilica,” the Vatican spokesman said.
Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to preside over the traditional Lenten Stations of the Cross at Sant’ Anselmo church, followed by a procession to Santa Sabina Basilica on Rome’s Aventine Hill.
The traditional procession is composed of cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the Benedictine monks of Sant’ Anselmo, the Dominican friars of Santa Sabina and lay people.
As the Pope, cardinals, bishops and faithful make their way between the two churches they sign the litany of the saints.
When they arrive at Santa Sabina, the Pope celebrates Mass, receives ashes and places them on the foreheads of those who come forward to receive them.
The practice of beginning the Lenten season of prayer and penance this way was started by Pope John XXIII when he came for the opening of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in 1961.
The Pope will also hold a general audience on Feb. 27, and recite the Angelus from his apartment window overlooking St. Peter’s Square two more times before he retires.
Rome, Italy, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A German journalist and acquaintance of Pope Benedict XVI says atheists in their native country are more respectful of him after realizing their perception of the pontiff was wrong.
"The atheists are very respectful now of him because they had a completely invalid image of him clinging to his power, although it meant nothing to him," said Paul Badde, Die Welt's Vatican correspondent since Feb. 2002.
"They saw him as harsh, as the German shepherd clinging to his throne," he said.
But Badde, who met Pope Benedict personally in the early 1980s in theological debates and close inner circles, also said many Germans did not take full advantage of his efforts to help change their society.
"The Germans could have done much more, but they gave him a very hard time and now they're more shocked than any other nation," said Badde.
He explained that Germans could have followed the example of the Poles, who worked with Blessed John Paul II to make huge changes in their country.
"What did the Poles accomplish in their identification with their Pope? They brought the Soviet Union down and they changed the course of history," he remarked.
In Badde’s view, "Germany has been a twisted nation for centuries."
And while “it is too much for a single pontiff to reconcile a nation,” Pope Benedict “opened an opportunity for them which they sadly missed.”
Badde told CNA he is most proud of the fact that his book “The Divine Face” inspired Pope Benedict to travel to Manopello, Italy, to see the Veil of Veronica.
On a personal level, Badde said that Pope Benedict's resignation has left him feeling "fatherless and disoriented." He is also "very saddened, but in a confused way because he is not dead."
"I'm very shocked, but I have heard from people very close to him that he is in a state of serenity, so there is a sense of relief coming," said Badde.
"He must have realized that he wasn't capable of doing this anymore, but he was capable of many other things like writing books. And now he's capable of praying for the Church," he said.
"The Church is being attacked now as it has never been before in my entire life and so it needs a captain and a commander who knows how to wage a war," Badde remarked.
Rome, Italy, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict's resignation during Lent is no coincidence according to a Vatican expert who thinks the timing was tied to the Church’s liturgical calendar.
"He did this at the beginning of Lent because he wanted to ensure that when we celebrate Easter with the risen Christ, we could have a new pontiff with the Lord's resurrection," said Paul Badde, the Rome correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt.
"He did this within the framework of the Church year, not the secular year," said Badde.
Lent will begin with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 13 and Pope Benedict will give up his office 15 days later on Feb. 28.
This means the College of Cardinals will have exactly one month to choose the next Pope in time for Easter, which falls on March 31.
And according to the journalist, who first met Pope Benedict personally in the 1980s, this fact means it was more of a ''Catholic decision" than a ''German decision.''
"He is more Catholic than German, and more Bavarian than German," said Badde, who is close to the Vatican's German personnel.
"He is Catholic and he is Peter, so he is beyond any nationalism," he said.
"He had the language and the shape of the mind of a German, but he was really a universal pastor," Badde observed.
Pope Benedict XVI personally offered his thoughts on the timing of a Pope’s resignation when he was interviewed in 2010 by the German journalist Paul Seewald.
A Pope should not resign in a time of crisis, he said, but rather in a time of tranquility.
"When the danger is great, one must not run away and for that reason, now is certainly not the time to resign," said the pontiff.
"Precisely at a time like this one must stand fast and endure the difficult situation," he added.
"That is my view. One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on, but one must not run away from danger and say that someone else should do it," Benedict XVI told Seewald.
Pope Benedict will celebrate his last Mass on Feb. 13 at 5 p.m., which will mark the blessing of ashes and the start of Lent.
Normally the Pope does this at the Roman Basilica of Santa Sabina, but this year Pope Benedict will preside over it at St. Peter's Basilica.
Also on the Pope’s schedule before his Feb. 28 retirement is a meeting with the priests of Rome on Feb. 14 at Paul VI Hall, which will focus on Vatican Council II.
His last general audience will be on Feb. 27. It is scheduled to be also in the Paul VI Hall, but it could be moved to St. Peter's Square.
The director of the Holy See Press office, Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the Pope's calendar will continue as scheduled until his last day.
Lima, Peru, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA) - The bishops of Latin America have voiced admiration for Pope Benedict XVI, calling his decision to resign from the papacy both courageous and humble.
Pope Benedict “has been a Pontiff who understood how to guide the Church in times of crisis with prudence, humility and strength,” said Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City.
He commended the Holy Father for “always seeing problems in the light of the faith and with the hope that in the end good triumphs and not evil.”
The Pope has “led us to return with strength to the faith and the truths in which the Church has always believed, amidst a world that makes everything relative,” the cardinal continued.
“He has taught us that we Christians have firm and absolute values upon which our lives and our faith are cemented, and that only in affirming and living out these truths is the truth about man, his present and his future, found.”
Cardinal Rivera was one of several Latin American prelates who voiced gratitude and promised prayers after Pope Benedict announced on Feb. 11 that he would be retiring at the end of the month due to declining strength.
“Only a great love for Jesus Christ, for his Church, and great humility, could inspire such a step,” said Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana, Cuba.
Msgr. Jose Felix Perez, executive secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, agreed, saying that the Pope’s resignation is characteristic “of an intelligent man who does not cling to power, like many unfortunately do.”
The president of the Colombian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, said that he was “profoundly distressed and very sad” by the resignation, which he described as courageous and honest.
He underscored “the immense heritage” that Benedict XVI has left behind in the area of Church doctrine.
Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian of Guatemala City also voiced sadness, explaining “a great Pope is leaving, but we should continue with prayer in order to continue with unity.”
He called the Holy Father “a man of God whom I admire for his firmness in the faith, his profound love for the truth and his total devotion to the Church.”
“It is a very luminous time, it’s a great lesson,” commented Archbishop Diego Padron, president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference.
He explained that Pope Benedict never sought “power for the sake of power.”
“The Pope is very human, he has acknowledged that he doesn’t have the physical strength, and he has humbly stepped down,” the archbishop observed. “He is a good example.”
Archbishop Juan Antonio Ugarte Perez of Cusco, Peru expressed gratitude for “an extraordinarily gifted man who has offered all of his strength to the universal Church until he was exhausted and unable to go on.”
“He has had the humility to recognize his weakness and to resign,” he said.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Amid news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro said the new Pope elected in the upcoming conclave will attend World Youth Day this summer.
During Mass at a parish in Rio, Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta said that when he spoke with Benedict XVI about the event, the Holy Father told him, “The Pope will go to World Youth Day. Me or my successor.”
The archbishop confirmed that plans are proceeding normally to prepare for the 27th World Youth Day, which will be held in Rio on July 23-28.
Begun by Pope John Paul II in 1985, the event is hosted in different cities throughout the world and includes prayer, catechesis and cultural activities, along with an overnight vigil and messages from the Pope.
The theme for the 2013 World Youth Day is “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Its symbols are the cross and icon of Our Lady.
In his official message for the gathering in Rio, Pope Benedict stressed that happiness is found by living “in accordance with God’s plan.”
“We reaffirm that our work is continuing and that World Youth Day will take place,” Archbishop Tempesta said. “Right now I invite everyone to pray for the Pope, who has done something very courageous.”
The archbishop’s comments came shortly after Pope Benedict announced on Feb. 11 that he will be retiring at the end of the month. Citing his advanced age and waning strength, the Holy Father said that he could no longer exercise his ministry adequately.
The College of Cardinals will meet in early March to elect a new pontiff.
This would not be the first time a new Pope would attend a World Youth Day gathering convened by his predecessor. Pope Benedict himself traveled to Cologne in 2005 for World Youth Day, which had been announced by Blessed John Paul II before his death.
The Rio 2013 Organizing Committee also released a statement reaffirming that the event will take place with the presence of the Pope.
“We await the process of the election of new Supreme Pontiff,” the committee said, adding that “(t)he organization of the event continues” with prayers for the Holy Father.