News / Europe

    Despite Troubled Papacy, Benedict’s Resignation May Seal His Legacy

    Despite Troubled Papacy, Benedict’s Resignation May Seal His Legacyi
    X
    March 09, 2013 10:08 PM
    VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky visited a church in central Italy where something Benedict did several years ago foreshadowed what may end up being seen as a radical decision
    Despite Troubled Papacy, Benedict’s Resignation May Seal His Legacy
    For decades, German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the Roman Catholic Church's enforcer of doctrine. But as Pope Benedict the Sixteenth, he struggled to keep a lid on clerical sex scandals and other Vatican controversies. Still he may be best remembered for his resignation.

    As a place to kick around a soccer ball or just to slow life down a little, the church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio is the place to be on a Sunday morning in the Italian city of L’Aquila.

    The church is dedicated to Celestine V, who became pope in 1294. Although he resigned after just six months, Giuliana Masci says Celestine is a hero to residents.

    "For us he was a very great pope, because back then there was lots of corruption in the church, and he had the courage to say, 'No,'" says a woman.

    This picturesque town in the shadow of the snowcapped Apennine mountains is still recovering from an earthquake in 2009.

    Santa Maria di Collemaggio was devastated, and Benedict came to visit it shortly afterward. He left his pallium - a symbol of papal authority - on Celestine’s tomb.

    Celestine himself was imprisoned, but retired Lieutenant General Andrea Michele Lusa is confident Benedict will be remembered as a man with "a deep knowledge of the theological aspects of the church, that is to say, a great thinker, but very humble and with no show of superiority."

    Celestine’s remains have been moved to a lab and his reputation is being re-examined.

    When Celestine resigned it was not looked upon favorably. He’s believed to be the cowardly man portrayed at the gates of Hell by the Italian poet Dante. But it’s possible that Benedict’s legacy will be different.

    John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter already calls Benedict "one of the great teaching popes.”

    "His encyclicals, his speeches on his foreign trips, the three books he’s published as pope... I think those things will be read in graduate seminars and in seminaries and in Catholic circles for centuries," he said.

    Some Catholics fault Benedict for the scandals and secularization that plagued the church during his papacy, and he failed to muster the charisma of his predecessor, John Paul II.

    "But I think the resignation, the very humble way that he has relinquished power and in some ways the very courageous way that he’s decided to step aside has created some space for people do distinguish between the papacy and the pope. I mean, they may still have some substantive issues with the papacy, but I think there’s a tendency to look more generously upon the pope," said Allen.

    Castel Gandolfo has always been a place to sit at a café in the shadow of the pope’s summer palace outside Rome. But even more people come now that the pope emeritus has sequestered himself there during the transition.

    This boy’s older sister thinks Benedict’s final act will make him a great pope.

    "I think he will be remembered for this abdication. I think it is very significant," she said.

    As the shopkeepers of this resort say "grazie" (thank you!) to Benedict, the spotlight remains on a papal resignation that may leave its mark for centuries to come.

    Jerome Socolovsky

    Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.