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I think Benedict may have just decided that he can do the Church more good, at this point, as a monk than as a pope. And I think he's right--we need a revival of traditional forms of religious life. In a healthy environment, cults wouldn't be able to seduce young people away from their true vocations, and established orders would remain true to their founder's charisms. I think the recent explosion of young Dominicans, Benedictines, and Franciscans may hold the seed of a grand renewal---
It's hard to have a leader-worshipping cult when your leader is long dead and sainted, and your charism and rule have been tested by the centuries or millenia.

And, I'm sort of hoping our next pope focuses on the renewal of religious life in the church. Chesterton said you can't have marriages and babies unless you also have monks... he may be on to something....

Right you are about the importance of the office, not the man. I noticed that all things crumble on this earth when the ordained (or politicians) forget that they are there to serve, not to be served. When founders believe that they are saints (or kings), that's when they have failed in their mission and have forgotten that there is only one true God. Let's hope our religious become purified and renewed. God is watching!

Here's an article, on an unlikely website to give the Church a fair shake, but it's written by a former Swiss Guard, who has an insider's understanding of the workings of the Papacy. It's one of the more balanced analyses I have come across thus far.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andreas-widmer/whats-missing-from-the-conversation-on-benedicts-resignation_b_2671489.html

Example: does anyone remember the directive to pray three Hail Mary's after the Angelus? We were told that John Paul II prayed them, so we would too. And if the next pope didn't, we would drop them. I wasn't around when Benedict was elected, so I don't know what happened next.

If this was indeed widespread in Regum Christi (and not just in our section) I would categorise it as sychophancy rather than "being close to the pope." Moreover, if the Movement had an authentic charism of its own, it wouldn't have to adapt to papal whims. Really, imagine the Dominicans changing prayer norms with every pope over the centuries...

I do wonder if LC/RC had some effect on the pope's decision. We all know that the Church had Maciel dead-to-rights in 1958. How much evil could have been avoided if the pope hadn't died right then? And Papa Ratzi was in the trenches fighting Maciel's bribees throughout JPII's long decline.

Because of his history, BXVI must be acutely aware that the Church is in grave danger in the period between popes, and in grave danger when the pope is incapacitated. By resigning, there is no papal funeral or mourning period before the cardinals take up the election. We can all mourn his leaving of office now while he is still in office, still in charge and still in possession of all of his faculties. When a pope dies, there is a 9-day mourning period before the election of the next pope can even start. Unless Papa Ratzi keels over in the next 2 weeks (please, God, no!) the cardinals can start the conclave on March 1st.

@nm: don't fall into the Legion trap of overestimating their place in the Church. They are the height of audacity, presumption, and arrogance, and their scandal was a grave insult to the Church, but the thought that a pope would renounce his throne over them is absurd. I'm guessing that with the appointment of the Delegate, the work (as it were) was delegated. Done. It may not have been done well, or it may have been all that was possible under the circumstances, but it was off Benedict's desk.

Our work isn't finished, which is to watch the reform and to gauge its effectiveness, but it's not keeping anyone at the Vatican up at night.

I never felt particular fondness for B16, but I am way past the point of feeling fondness for anybody I don't know in the flesh, be he President or Pope.

Benedict's decision to resign gives me a respect for him that no other action of his has inspired in me. This statement is huge, and I can't help but feel it stands in such stark contrast to JPII's refusal to step aside when he became decrepit (which simply allowed the corrupt Princes of the Church to run rampant). I do believe JPII had a very inflated view of the importance of the man vs. the importance of the office. Papolotry certainly seemed to bloom under his reign.

Benedict, on the other, has put the focus back where it should be. Let's hope the hierarchy pay attention.

It's hard for me to care too much about the upcoming election, to be honest. I feel like there is a complete disconnect between Rome and my experience with God. But I will try to pray that the voting Cardinals actually listen to the Holy Spirit, something I tend to very much doubt they are in the habit of doing.

You must read his remarks to the assembled clergy of Rome today. He has always been truest to himself when speaking from the heart to groups who are near and dear to him.

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/02/14/pope_to_rome's_priests:_the_second_vatican_council,_as_i_saw_it/en1-664858

At the end, he talks about how he is withdrawing into a life of prayer. It's my impression that he is taking upon himself "a life of prayer and penance" ...a hidden life, for as long as the Lord allows him, as some small token, for the enormity of the sins of the members of the Church, from the Pope on down.

If you don't want to read his whole discourse (because it is long) then at least read the last two paragraphs. Follow the link in the comment above.

Here is the true Joseph Ratzinger speaking. He is being brutally honest, and not worrying about the consequences. The action he has taken, in resigning, is made in light of his profound understanding of the last 50 years of the lived experience of the Church, in which he has had a major role to play, from young theological peritus, to Prefect of the CDF, to Vicar of Christ on Earth.

In resigning, and withdrawing to a life of prayer AND PENANCE (as he had had to assign more archbishops, bishops and priest to than you and I could even imagine), he is bringing the past 50 years of the life of the Church to their culmination.

Can anyone of us dispute that "heads had to roll" even at the very highest levels of the Church, for the crimes that have been committed? Joseph Ratzinger is doing what he knew had to be done,

The cultish "legion" is a symptom -- an ugly, annoying symptom, but just a symptom, nonetheless -- of corruption, including corruption in the Church (omnipresent and always to be fought, see Pope Leo XIII and others). As Giselle said, "[T]he thought that a pope would renounce his throne over them is absurd."

This shameless cult (ab)used the papacy, along with every institution and person with whom it came in contact -- the family, the parish, the clergy, mothers, fathers, children -- they don't discriminate -- and will attack and undermine all that is sacred to gain power and wealth.

Wait, didn't the pope himself protect pederasts some time ago? And, wasn't his handling of the sexual abuse cases quite below the standard? Compare it with recent sexual abuse cases in Penn State, for example. I personally was patiently waiting him to finally do something relevant about the whole sexual abuse mess, but now he simply resigns. I believe you are all being duped, he never really wanted to protect the victims, just protect the Vatican. And didn't Jesus say that anyone that does harm to a child would have the worst fate possible? Well, not priests under papal watch! Apparently, they are free to go about as they please as long as it's not another scandal for the Vatican.

giselle -- I am not thinking that Benedict has resigned over LC/RC, because that is a battle that he already fought.

I'm speculating about what OTHER situations he has been hard at work keeping under control. Things we don't know about -- or do know about without appreciating the seriousness of them -- precisely because he has been successful SO FAR. It's certainly consistent with what he said -- he has come to the conclusion that he no longer has the strength to keep the lids on these pots, and he understands that the only way to avoid disaster for the Church is to get out of the way so that a new pope can ride herd.

If he is thinking "It's like 1957 and I'm Pius XII. If I don't get out of the way, it's going to be like 1958..." Obviously that's not literally about Maciel.

But human nature is human nature, and the idea that Maciel is some singular disaster which is now past and can never be repeated by someone new -- that's the absurd notion. Or at least the naive one. One thing that is very clear is that Benedict is NOT naive.

If the Pope really believed his job title as representing Jesus on Earth, wouldn't he have gone all-out against pedophiles, instead of resigning? What he did with the Legion, protecting the power structures that corrupted them and he RC, and enabled sexual molestation of children, is a representative case. Resigning gives him a fig leaf, but there is a tradeoff here, a place in history as a reasonable man (fig leaf), vs. a struggle to the end to protect those that were hurt by the Church's acting.

LOC docs released in Rhode Island.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/02/15/documents-disgraced-legion-christ-released-in-rhode-island/

A similar measure by the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Bridgeport had already failed previously so this was doomed to failure.

This is great news !

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