An Australian cardinal said that future popes are likely to follow in the footsteps of Benedict XVI.
“I think his pontificate will be typical of pontificates of the future,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia.
“I admire him for the decision that he took, but it does change the situation a little bit,” said Cardinal Pell in an EWTN interview in Rome on Feb. 28.
Benedict XVI resigned as Pope that morning. The cardinals of the Catholic Church have been flocking to Rome to meet next week in preparation for the conclave.
Cardinal Pell reflected on the last Pope’s pontificate and the challenges facing the Church.
“The world of the press is very powerful, coming often with quite a different and hostile agenda, but I think the Holy Father answered that challenge and I think he answered it well,” he said.
The cardinal, who travels to Rome frequently, said he knows “just how important it is for us to discern what the Spirit wants us to do and to get it right.”
“When I go into the conclave I’ll be thanking God that I’m not alone in making this decision,” he said. “I will be with 114 of us, all wise cardinals, with an enormous range of experience.”
“Many of them would have been through much tougher times than I ever have,” Cardinal Pell added.
This will be the second conclave for the Australian, whom Pope John Paul II made a cardinal in 2003. He recalled his memories of the 2005 conclave, which elected Benedict XVI to the papacy.
“It’s a very edifying time in the Sistine Chapel and what struck me forcibly was the manifest faith and devotion of the other cardinals,” said the cardinal. “I found that fortifying and consoling and I’m sure it will be the same this time.”
Benedict XVI met with the cardinals, including Cardinal Pell, before stepping down
Cardinal Pell described Benedict XVI as “very much the German gentleman,” “a gentle, faithful and prayerful priest,” and “a very kind and wonderful man.”
The cardinal, who worked closely with Pope Benedict, said the resigned pontiff had displayed “brilliant” teaching and had worked hard during these last eight years.
“I remember him very fondly and with gratitude and I felt a real moment of sadness this morning,” said Cardinal Pell.
“I felt for him, as he had to decide whether it was time to go, whether it was beyond him,” he added.
The cardinal believes liturgical reform is one of the most important contributions of Benedict XVI.
Two of his most beautiful memories of Benedict were at the vigil in Sydney at the World Youth Day.
“It was just so silent and there were 400,000 youth up on Sunday morning for Mass,” said Cardinal Pell.
“After communion, there was perfect silence and I could hear the birds singing,” he said.
“They were beautiful moments and I hope we don’t lose the momentum that we’ve gained towards the restoration of a proper sense of worship in the liturgy.”