February 11, 2013
DEMOCRATIZING THE ABSOLUTE:
Pope Benedict's resignation: a stunning shock : As John Paul II's right-hand man, he watched a papacy fall into decrepitude. Benedict may have had no wish to follow suit (Andrew Brown, 2/11/13, Guardian)
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2013 2:00 PMDuring the decrepitude of John Paul II, Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, was his right-hand man. It may be that his experience then planted in him a wish to leave office while he was still able to discharge his duties. Modern medicine does not work well with autocratic regimes traditionally renewed by death or disease, and the papacy remains the last absolute monarchy in Europe.In Benedict's resignation statement can be seen an implied rebuke to his predecessor, who argued that clinging to life and power for as long as possible was itself a form of witness to Christ's suffering. Benedict, however, says: "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today's world ... both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me."