A few initial impressions of Pope Benedict XVI's/Joseph Ratzinger's announcement of his imminent retirement:
I'm not entirely surprised. He'd dropped hints in this direction before, and it struck me that his papacy – so much the "teaching papacy" of a professor – had the possibility of being capped by such an act, since the sheer legal fact that a pope *could* resign was generally not enough to make such an act acceptable or likely in the culture surrounding the papacy. To have someone whose Vatican credibility was high, like Ratzinger, take this further move toward providing a precedent for the modern papacy seemed, therefore, more likely to me, in an "only Nixon could go to China" way.
Nicole Winfield's AP story about the move is weighed down at the end by horrible "failed conservative" lines of analysis or sensationalism (citing his presiding over the ongoing sex abuse scandals and what she seems to think was a communications gaffe in Regensberg). Instead, as a minor league ecclesiologist myself, I'm inclined to call this one as a modest and successful papacy ending on a high note, as Benedict restructures an aspect of the papacy by act, rather than by legislation. He's teaching the Church something different than John Paul II did by his long and courageous (but different) facing of his own decline and death.
Benedict's was not as spectacular a papacy as John Paul II's, with that one's epic battle with European Communism, in particular. Unlike philosopher Wojtyla, this was more clearly the reign of a theology professor, and to my mind has been a pretty successful one, moreso than people are recognizing, as they either fixate on the situations that Ratzinger inherited, or on the larger-than-life impact of Wojtyla's personality. I would look instead at the content of Benedict's teaching, in his clear articulation of Christianity in a modern/postmodern Western context. The real action is there, and I think that it can have a long impact as it is absorbed – however indirectly such things are absorbed – into the thinking of the Church, via pastors, teachers, readers and seekers of every sort.
Luke White, Jenny Fast, Christina Healey, Anne Marie Salan, Dan Lloyd, Nathaniel Hannan, Michael Dougherty, Thomas Patamia, Cody Acosta, Jonathan Tarver Pennington, Michael Kammer, Gregory Brian Sadler, Jenny Fast, Alex Hall, Aaron Garman, John H Robinson, Christina Healey, Nicole Callahan, Jason DeArvil, Tim Gonzalez, Chad Aubert, Mara McDonald, Kris 'Bigdaddy' Robinson, Kristen Wegener, Ross Higginbotham, Dawn Marie Hagerty, Luke White, and Russell Stewart like this.
Michael Kammer Was waiting for your analysis!
February 11 at 12:33pm via mobile · Like · 5
Kris 'Bigdaddy' Robinson well said Sir. Thank you.
February 11 at 12:36pm · Like
Nicole Callahan well, I'm gonna go quote you now.
February 11 at 12:36pm · Like
Michael Kammer Man if only I was taking a good course on the modern development of Christian thought or something where we could analyze this move in depth, right Alex Hall Chad Aubert Michelle Rau Jeff Ramon
February 11 at 12:36pm via mobile · Like · 3
Mike Novak Yes, Michael, on a personal note, I'll say that it really bites not to have students while this is happening. It's a "teachable moment" indeed! Kris and Nicole: thanks!
February 11 at 12:57pm · Like · 3
Michael Kammer Also I could really go for a Chad Aubert song about this right now
February 11 at 1:00pm via mobile · Like · 2
Aaron Garman Reposting.
February 11 at 1:10pm · Like
Jenifer Reynolds We live in interesting times.
February 12 at 8:52pm · Like