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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid