Joseph Ratzinger is a unique case in the modern Church. He was Pope in two times well differentiated for 17 years, which are added to the 24 years in which he was John Paul II’s number two as guardian of orthodoxy, prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
He died at the age of 95 and he was the longest-serving pope ever. For eight years he exercised the absolute powers of the Popes and after his resignation he was for another nine years the first pope emeritus in the list of 264 popes who preceded him.
He contradicted the opinion of St. John Paul II who stated this there were no retired parents, that the Bishop of Rome in the fullness of his powers “cannot come down from the cross” and must continue until his death. With the extraordinary gesture of him, Joseph Ratzinger changed a fundamental tradition of the Church. Future popes know this if they lose their strength or health they have to retire following his example.
Ratzinger went down in history with his resignation from the papacy 607 years later the forced resignation of Gregory XII in 1415. Many consider the reference to the 708 years that have passed since the monk’s voluntary resignation to be more appropriate. Celestine V.
Repeatedly told that the resignation has been pondered for years. You said it in more than one interview. If the Pope is unable to continue, he has the right but also the duty to resign.
“I made the definitive decision in the summer of 2012. The apostolic journey to Mexico and Cuba had exhausted me and the following year I had to go to Rio de Janeiro to preside over the Youth Days. I realized I couldn’t face the test ′′ He had turned 85 years old.
Ratzinger had precarious health of iron. His father and sister Maria suffered from it, and they lived with him in the pontifical apartments and helped him organize his homework. neurological frailty which cost him his life.
Joseph himself had in 1991 a heart attack which caused him to lose the sight in his left eye. They had also placed a pacemaker cardiac. Two or three times he asked St. John Paul II to allow him to retire to his native Bavaria, to give him his books and to rest. “No, no, go ahead”The Polish Pope replied that he considered him the most indispensable of collaborators.
“A Complete Surprise”
The announcement was made by Benedict XVI during a consistory of cardinals to confirm several canonisations. “I chose to speak in Latin because I know it well, better than Italian,” he said. It was a complete surprise. Some cardinals did not understand what he was saying, others showed their astonished faces.
with German precision I had everything organized. He also announced that his resignation date would be February 28. He chose the non-existent title of Pope Emeritus and had prepared the monastery of Mater Ecclesiae, in the Vatican gardens, to welcome him. Only the consent of his successor was missing, which he was Jorge Bergoglio of Argentinaand received him with warm affection.
The desire to retire had passed to Ratzinger when the Polish pope Karol Wojtyla died in April 2005 after a period of great suffering and 26 years of pontificate.
Succession too it was meticulously organised. Wojtyla wanted his number two to succeed him, with whom he maintained clear coincidences. He appointed him Dean of the Sacred College, an essential figure for dressing up the 117 cardinal electors. 115 arrived in Rome and participated in the two days of voting in the Sistine Chapel.
The only rival who gave birth, supported by the authority of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, already very ill with Parkinson’s disease, who was the leader of the progressive wing, It was the Argentine Jorge Bergoglio.
They say he got 40 votes on the third ballot, but the Cardinal of Buenos Aires learning the result in the Sistine Chapel made negative signs and pointed the finger at the figure of Ratzinger, asking them to vote for him. She went like this.
In his speech at Mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, just 24 hours before being elected, the upcoming Benedict XVI renewed his battle against relativism predominant in contemporary culture.
Its essence consists in “letting oneself carried here and there by any doctrinal wind” and appears “as the only attitude up to the present times”. Relativism is constituted in a dictatorship “which does not recognize anything as definitive and which leaves only one’s own ego and one’s desires as the last measure”.
Was a summary of his conservative thought which he practiced in his eight years as head of the Church. At 78 Ratzinger “represents the more dogmatic lines of the Churchwhich often clash with the liberal currents that have come to accuse him of being so inquisitor”.
There was no shortage of restoration projects. He was critical of the liturgical reform introduced by Paul VI, which transformed the Mass in terms of the Second Vatican Council. He was against it “excess of novelty” introduced to the masseswhich according to the new Pope “end up becoming a spectacle”.
Ratzinger got his name from Benedict XVthe Genoese Giaomo della Chiesa, (1914-1922), who defined the First World War as “a useless massacre” and inspired the reform of canon law in 1917.
Pardon to the Lefebvrians
In 2009 the pontificate experienced its worst scandal with Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication to four bishops consecrated by the French bishop Marcel Lefebvre in June 1988, for this gesture and leadership of a schism of a sector of the extreme right which rejected the conclusions of the Second Vatican Council.
Among them was the British Richard Williamson, director of the Lefebvrian seminary in the suburb of La Reja, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Williamson was a hardened pro-Nazi and has not spared statements on Swedish television deny the Holocaustthe holocaust of six million Jews. “The gas chambers never existed”She said.
The storm for the pontifical pardon of the four Lefebvrian bishops has become a hurricane due to the presences and declarations that Williamson has not spared.
In Europe there were rebellions in various episcopates, which weakened the pontiff.
A scandal of sex, spies and lies
The second scandal, decisive in the willingness of Joseph Ratzinger to resign from the pontificate, erupted in January 2012 for the dissemination of documents stolen by the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, even from Benedict XVI’s desk.
They contained explosive information involve the Vatican in the cases of corruption. Uncovered an internal investigation blackmail gay bishops. Thus was born the VatiLeaks case.
Gabriele himself leaked the documents to Gianluigi Nuzzi and other journalists. it was screened a disastrous image of the Vatican. Hotbed of intrigue, with constant factional strife.
He also conveyed the feeling that the Pope he did not control the Roman curia. Benedict XVI appointed a board of three cardinals in 2012 to investigate the leaked documents. The results were handed over to Ratzinger who, when he resigned, passed them on to Francesco, his successor. The contents of the drawer it’s top secret and is guarded with four keys.
There has been considerable speculation that VatiLeaks contributed to Ratzinger’s resignation in February 2013, which his relatives have denied. But it is probable that the great scandal ended up convincing Benedict XVI it was time to resign.
After his resignation, the pope emeritus settled in the convent of Mater Ecclesiae accompanied by four nuns who cared for him until the end and by his secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein.
“There Are No Two Potatoes”
In recent years Ratzinger has maintained in all interviews his loyalty to the Argentine successor and reiterated that “there are no two potatoes”. But she occasionally left the silence to post some interviews or share a book.
In all cases he maintained the line of dogmatic traditionalism and came out to underscore his condemnation of relativism. During his pontificate he wrote a life of Christ in three books.
His three-year-old older brother, Georg, visited him every year, but in 2020, blind and 96 years old, his ailments showed he could no longer make trips to Rome.
In June 2021 it’s time to say goodbye. Despite his precarious state of health, Josep Ratzinger went to Regensburg for four days. Georg, who was director of the Regensburg cathedral choir for many years, was suffering from the stress of his illness and was suffering from facial herpes and feared for his life. But Ratzinger got over it and returned to Rome. Georg died a few days later.
The few who have visited Ratzinger have said that he is the pope emeritus it was slowly fading. He could hardly speak, he saw very badly, it was impossible to walk. “God deprives me of speech so that I can listen,” she said.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.