Benedict XVI: A half-fig, half-grape pontificate

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Beno&icir;t XVI : a half-fig, half-grape pontificate

Pope Benedict XVI during his urbi et orbi blessing, Saint Peter's Square, in 2006

If Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was certainly a great theologian and initiated several gestures to repair the wrongs of the Catholic Church, his pontificate will not have been easy, confirm the specialists consulted by Radio-Canada.

He is a man who did not want to be what he became, summarizes Alain Crevier, specialist in religious affairs and host of the podcast Being, in an interview with RDI.

Before becoming pope, in 2005, and resigning by surprise with two weeks' notice, eight years later, the German Joseph Ratzinger officiated in the most high spheres of the Vatican for several decades.

He was one of the youngest experts of the Second Vatican Council, responsible from 1962 for initiating the modernization of the Church, says Gilles Routhier, full professor and former dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences of Laval University.

And in 1981, when Pope John Paul II recruited him to be prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he entrusted him with the most important in the Vatican, because [it] has the role of determining what is Catholic and what is not, mentions Mr. Crevier.

“You kind of become more Catholic than the pope when you have that job. And he had it for 25 years. »

— Alain Crevier, host

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is no more. His death was announced early this morning by the Vatican. We take a look back at the ups and downs of his pontificate with Alain Crevier, journalist and host of the podcast “Being” and former host of Second Regard.

Rigid, uncompromising, retrograde : his opponents have no shortage of adjectives to qualify him. The Cardinal opposes anything that deviates from doctrine. It condemns homosexuality and contraception in addition to making life difficult for liberation theologians and supporters of women's ordination.

After the death of John Paul II, his succession is organized. On April 19, 2005, after two days of conclave and four ballots, Cardinal Ratzinger was chosen to succeed him. He was then 78 years old, making him one of the oldest popes. It is from there that Ratzinger's flame begins to flicker. To be pope, there are three qualities to possess: charisma, political sense and the ability to know how to surround yourself well. In these three areas, he experienced difficulties, underlines Gilles Routhier, implying that John Paul II and François were better equipped on this side.

According to M . Routhier, Benoit XVI assumed the role of pope more out of duty than true calling.

Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Confederation of Catholic Bishops, sees things differently. His weakness may have been communications, but that was not what he had worked for so many years. It was rather for the deepening of faith and for the call of Catholics, Christians, to do works of charity towards others to witness to the love of God, he declared in interview with RDI.

Bishop Poisson sees three things that will top Benedict XVI's list of accomplishments:

  • He was the first pope to having met victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy.
  • He is the first pope to have established transparency in the finances of the Vatican.
  • And he is also the first pope to have hosted Indigenous representatives of residential school victims in Canada.

Monseigneur Raymond Poisson is the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Critics of Joseph Ratzinger point out that when he acted, it was usually under duress. Regarding sexual abuse, an independent report published this year blamed his inaction when he was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

And for this which is transparency in the finances of the Holy See, it is rather the leak of compromising documents, the Vatileaks, which forced the Vatican to begin reforms, according to several observers.

Despite a stormy pontificate and his early retirement, Benedict XVI had retained a certain power in the Vatican, recalls Alain Crevier. When he left 10 years ago, a monastery was set up for him in the Vatican gardens, where more traditionalists continued to come to refer to him rather than Pope Francis, the journalist said.

For them, even last week, Benedict XVI was considered the real pope and Pope Francis an impostor, he concludes.

With information from Agence France-Presse

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