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Benedict the Radical

February 28, 2014

One year ago, Pope Benedict XVI carried out what will surely go down in history as the most radical act of his pontificate: leaving it.  It was this startling act – the first papal resignation in six centuries – that made possible the next great surprise: the election of his successor, the first pope to take the name Francis.

It is not necessary to pretend there are no differences between the two popes in order to recognize the connection between these two events, or to appreciate the complementary gifts that both have contributed to the Church.  And despite the stark and even antagonistic contrasts that have been drawn between them, for Benedict himself, seeing the charismatic leadership of Pope Francis has affirmed to him that his resignation was the will of God – a ringing affirmation that he has reaffirmed more recently, dismissing suggestions that the resignation had not been truly voluntary (and thereby expressing support for his successor over some of the Church’s right-fringe voices).

A year after Pope Emeritus Benedict’s historic exit, I remain grateful for this culmination of his service to the Church in a courageous act of radical humility that has also given us the great gift of Pope Francis.


  1. February 28, 2014 11:08 pm

    thank you for this – I love Benedict

  2. February 28, 2014 11:22 pm

    Bonus points for using Monty Python for your image… :-)

    • Julia Smucker permalink*
      March 1, 2014 10:37 am

      Thanks – although I should clarify that it wasn’t my invention. It comes from Catholic Memes (as credited on the photo). I saw it shortly after Benedict announced his resignation last year and thought it captured the element of surprise rather nicely.

  3. dismasdolben permalink
    March 1, 2014 7:53 am

    Would it be accurate to call folks who write like these schismatics or apostates? I don’t know what is the correct term, exactly:

    • Julia Smucker permalink*
      March 1, 2014 10:43 am

      The first one in particular appears to be skirting the line of schism, in that the banner at the top implies a sedevacantist leaning even though they disavow the term.

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