Benedict has always believed in the Vatican II concept of “collegiality,” which assumes that other cardinals and bishops have authority and even some autonomy from the Pope. This conviction meant that Benedict was never going to aggressively “clean house,” felling malefactors with thunderbolts from Peter’s chair.
Although Pope Benedict XVI’s highly unusual resignation is said to be for reasons of health, it fits the character of his papacy: All his initiatives remain incomplete. He was consciously elected to rescue the Church from itself, but he failed to finish what he started.
The onrushing assessments of his papacy have so far focused on Pope Benedict’s statements on homosexuality, contraception and other controversial Church teachings. This helps us locate him (and the Church) on a familiar political spectrum, but tells us little beyond the fact that the Pope is a faithful Catholic. After all, these are not “policies” that a future Pope can…
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