Pope Benedict has used his pontificate to advance the new evangelization and to speak to the modern world, said the president of a leading Catholic publication.

"During his eight-year pontificate, he used the Chair of Peter as a pulpit from which to address the challenges and the hopes of modern society," Greg Erlandson, president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, said Feb. 11.

"His three encyclicals...all spoke to his concerns, and revealed both a solicitude for modern men and women in the midst of immense cultural transformation and an unshakable faith that our hope remained always and essentially in Christ."

On Monday, Pope Benedict announced his decision to resign from his papal duties, effective Feb. 28.

The Holy Father cited concerns of advancing age and declining strength, saying that for these reasons, he is unable to "adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

Erlandson said the pontiff has been a "great gift" to the Church. He noted his collaboration with John Paul II, and the continuity between their pontificates.

"He continued and made a centerpiece of his pontificate the New Evangelization first proclaimed by John Paul II. He saw clearly that the Church itself needed to be reinvigorated and renewed, and it was in this spirit that he assembled the recent synod of bishops in October."
The publisher believes that Pope Benedict's papacy will be remembered both for his travels, including those to the U.S., U.K, Lebanon, and Cuba, as well as for his writings.

"He wrote with great intellectual and stylistic clarity, which made him one of the most accessible and widely read popes of the last century," said Erlandson.

His efforts to address the clergy sex abuse scandal, both as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as pope, will also be part of his legacy.

"Ultimately, however, we will miss him as much for his humility as for his wisdom, humility embodied in his decision to resign from the papacy for the good of the Church Universal," concluded Erlandson.

"A monumental theologian of the 20th century, and the first new pope of the Third Millennium, we believe that Pope Benedict will be remembered for his dedication to the renewal of the Church and its people."