Data ostatniej modyfikacji: 2013-02-21 00:11:13
Germany missed the chance to rise to the level of German PopePope Benedict XVI is retiring, the first pope in the modern history of the Church to leave office during his lifetime. I had been expecting it ever since his brother George indicated not long ago that it was entirely possible his brother would step down if his faculties deteriorated.
When I stood opposite the Holy Father on October 31, 2012, I was struck by his frailty. He seemed to be a mere spirit, fulfilling with the utmost effort and devotion his duty to greet a dozen people personally.
In spite of this, I hoped he would stay. His faith, his outstanding spirit, his humility, his steadfastness, his readiness to bear the cross that this office laid upon him, were a light that shone over the whole earth and will continue to shine. That his own people fought and slandered him with an uninterrupted media bombardment may have been the greatest source of suffering for the extremely sensitive man Josef Ratzinger. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not,” as it says in John’s prologue about the Son of God.
As His representative, he has shared His fate. Like Jesus he suffered betrayal by one he had loved “like a son.” In his explanation of his retirement, Pope Benedict states, “I am very conscious of the fact that this office, because of its spiritual nature, can be carried out not only through deeds and words, but also and not to a lesser extent through suffering and prayer.” Of course, he was aware throughout his life of what it takes to stand with complete submission as a successor of Christ. This does not make the suffering less painful, but the knowledge of its fruitfulness gives one strength to bear it.
Pope Benedict XVI has unflaggingly called the faithful to enter into a living relationship with Jesus Christ and truly to live from this relationship of love. This is impossible without prayer, without knowledge of what we believe. His last great attempt to awaken in humanity the readiness to open the door to the Lord who knocks (Rev. 3:20) was the proclamation of the Year of Faith. But in Germany it has been a call without an echo. The Church, crippled by a guaranteed income from the state, bureaucracy, maneuvering with the truth, and a mortal fear of the media, seems no longer to be open to the inspired guidance of its supreme shepherd. Secularization – what is that? Ask those who are in the world and of the world.
This was a pope whose spirit, in an uninterrupted stream as “cooperator veritatis,” pointed out the narrow way to God with gentleness and charity and showed that this way can indeed be walked. All the critics and reformers who wish the Church to conform to the spirit of the times call upon us to take the broad way. This has just one disadvantage: it does not lead to God. The philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand saw this as “the greatest secular error of our time: the belief that religion must conform itself to Man, rather than Man to religion.”
If there is a man who fulfils the duty he recognizes as God’s will, then it is Josef Ratzinger. Even this revolutionary decision must have been reached after repeatedly examining his conscience before God and only because he came to the realization that it would be the best way to serve the Church. He is retreating from the visible stage and letting us know that he will offer his life for the Church with the same devotion behind the scenes. “As for myself, I wish also in the future to serve the Holy Church of God with my whole heart through a life of prayer.” We will receive the Urbi et Orbi blessing at Easter from a new pope. It will not be a German, and the constant disdainful carping of German Catholics will come to nothing. How sad that we missed the chance to rise to the level of this great pope.