Quantcast
Latest Stories

Pope Benedict XVI: The diehard traditionalist who resigned his post


Pope Benedict XVI. AP

VATICAN CITY—Pope Benedict XVI, who on Monday announced his intention to resign this month, will be remembered as a staunch defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, a diehard traditionalist and a lightning rod for controversy.

The German intellectual succeeded the long-reigning and popular John Paul II in April 2005 aged 78 after serving nearly a quarter-century as the Church’s doctrinal enforcer, earning himself the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

The 85-year-old, who blamed his age for preventing him from continuing at the head of the papacy, will be the first pope to do so in centuries.

“I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said as he would step down on February 28.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s hardline approach, his nationality and his age were all seen as handicaps to his becoming pope, and Benedict had famously said in a 2010 interview that he would resign if he felt he could no longer carry out his papal duties.

As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and then as pope, he rejected the ordination of women and marriage for priests. He opposed homosexuality and communism and was never afraid of upsetting political sensibilities.

In 1984, he said “communist regimes which came to power in the name of the liberation are one of the disgraces of our times.”

Ratzinger has also attacked rock music, calling it “the expression of basic passions”.

As pope, Benedict championed Christianity’s European roots and showed his conservatism by repeatedly stressing family values and fiercely opposing abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.

He also reintroduced the long-discarded Latin mass under certain conditions.

Above all, Benedict will be remembered for a disastrous public relations record that got him into hot water with Muslims, Jews, gays, native Indians, Poles, AIDS activists and even scientists.

Memories are still fresh of the fury the German pope unleashed in the Muslim world with a speech in September 2006 in which he appeared to endorse the view of an obscure 14th-century Byzantine emperor that Islam is inherently violent.

The academic lecture sparked violent protests in several countries as well as attacks on Christian targets.

In 2009, the pope struggled to mollify Jews after he invited a breakaway ultra-conservative faction back into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church by lifting the excommunication of four bishops, including one who insists that no one died in Nazi gas chambers.

Just weeks later Benedict added AIDS activists to the list of groups he has angered.

On a trip to Africa, the region hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic, he said that condom use could be aggravating the crisis.

Born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, in the predominantly Catholic southern German region of Bavaria, he was the son of a policeman.

Ratzinger gravitated gradually towards the priesthood, entering a seminary in 1939, the same year he was required to join the Hitler Youth movement.

He was ordained priest at the same time as his older brother Georg in 1951, and began teaching theology at Freising College in 1958.

Ratzinger went on from there to teach at several other German universities, notably in Bonn, Meunster and Regensburg.

The brilliant scholar caught the eye of Cologne Archbishop Joseph Frings, a cardinal who brought him to Rome to work as an advisor to the Second Vatican Council, hammering out modernisation reforms from 1962 to 1965.

Pope Paul VI named Ratzinger archbishop of Munich in 1977 and made him a cardinal the same year.

The four-year stint in Munich was his only real pastoral experience before he became pope.

It was during the 1978 conclave of cardinals to elect a successor to Paul VI that Ratzinger got to know Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul II.

Three years later he agreed to head the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation.

One of his first moves was to spearhead opposition to liberation theology, the movement with Marxist overtones that swept Latin America in the 1970s.

It focuses on Christ as the liberator of the oppressed and emphasizes the Christian mission of bringing justice to the poor and oppressed, particularly through political activism.

A quiet, almost shy person, Benedict never succeeded in generating the fervor enjoyed by John Paul II.

Instead, he shunned rock star status, once describing himself as “just the vicar” at the Roman Catholic Church’s periodic World Youth Days.

The Polish pope was greeted with enthusiasm bordering on hysteria at these events, and he did little to dampen down the adulation, to the consternation of some in the Church hierarchy.

The intellectual Benedict, an accomplished pianist, was a prolific writer.

Apart from three encyclicals, or instructions to the Roman Catholic flock, he wrote around 40 other works including a best-seller, “Jesus of Nazareth,” that contested political interpretations of Christ’s role.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Catholic Church , Pope Benedict XVI , Religion , Vatican




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Pope’s Easter Message ‘Urbi et Orbi’
  • Fire sweeps through slum area in Caloocan City
  • Militants kill 14 Algerian soldiers in ambush
  • Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter
  • 4 French journalists freed from Syria captors home
  • Sports

  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement