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Fr. Gheddo: The Resignation of Benedict XVI. A Church on the Verge of an Epochal Change
By Fr. Piero Gheddo
February 21st, 2013
Asia News (www.asianews.it/)
Benedict XVI's revolutionary resignation is an act of wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. Speculation over the next Pope is unimportant; as we are already sure he will be the best Pope for the Church today. What is important, however, is that the whole Church, all believers, ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to welcome and to follow him with prayer and in obedience to his indications on the path to be taken in bringing Jesus Christ closer to our contemporaries, especially those who know Him but still reject Him.
MILAN, ITALY (AsiaNews) - The more time passes since February 11, when Benedict XVI humbly and courageously announced he would resign from the Papacy, the more the reasons that led to this decision, truly revolutionary in the two thousand year history of the Church, become clear. Because it is the first time that this has happened.
The few cases of Papal abdications from the distant past were all the result of external pressure and threats, in undemocratic times, unlike the times we live today in our West. In other words, the resignation indicates that the Church is on the verge of an epochal change, that we still can not fathom, but what we do know is that the step taken by the great theologian Pope is for the greater good of the Church, as he himself said on February 11 last.
In other words, it was an act of wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit, because it opens up a new path for the Church that will favour the proclamation of the message of salvation in Christ to all peoples and especially those of Christian Europe, the vanguard of the "world of today subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith," and which are moving away from the practice of the Christian life.
Pope Benedict, "after repeatedly examining" his conscience before God, has come to the certainty that his forces " strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry." So, "with full freedom" he renounced "the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter."
After all, in the nearly eight years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict really gave all of himself to the Church's mission and the primary goal that he had set himself from the beginning, the "new evangelization" of Christian peoples. The three encyclicals on Faith (this last not published, but we hope it will later materialize as a volume by Card. Ratzinger), Hope and Charity and the three volumes on the presentation of Christ to the world today, with the many other texts and gestures (the Synod on the New Evangelization, the Court of the Gentiles, the bond between Faith and Reason, the fight against "relativism", etc..), are the culmination of an entire teaching which had the principal purpose of dialogue and the proclamation of salvation in Christ to the Catholic and Christian world.
Over the past few days I have been re-reading "Spe Salvi," on Christian hope, a wonderful and rewarding scenarioon Christian life that could and should provoke a rebirth in the Christian peoples of Europe (the European Community), currently mired in a deep crisis not because of the GDP and the Spred, but because they are losing all hope of progress. "Only when the future is certain as a positive reality - we read in no. 2 - does it become possible to live the present as well". But if there is no God on the horizon of Christian peoples, the future becomes desperate, it leads to nihilism, to nothingness. Benedict XVI proclaimed these truths and wrote about them dozens and dozens of times without, however, garnering any reaction worthy of note.
Similarly, the Pope continued the teaching of Paul VI and John Paul II when he demonstrated that he is a firm believer in rationality of Christian anthropology, almost to the point of codifying "the inalienable values" of the Church ("Caritas in Veritate", nn. 28 , 44, 75), relaunched several times by the Italian Episcopal Conference, and then he sees that Catholic countries are propelling themselves along the road that leads to the destruction of the natural family and the absolute value of human life from conception to natural death. In short, when the Pope condemns war or racism, all agree, but when he speaks of marriage between man and woman and against abortion and euthanasia, then he becomes a dogmatic and reactionary conservative. And this without any serious rational debate on these fundamental issues in light of the Gospel.
Here, Pope Benedict, having given his all and averting a dwindling energy due to his age, made the grand gesture, recalling once again (in a speech to the Roman parish priests of February 14) the duty of purifying the Church of scandals, divisions, power games, slander; in short, from all individual and communal sins that tarnish the immaculate holiness of the Church and undermine the effectiveness of its proclamation of salvation in Christ. Today for us, it is a time of prayer and thanksgiving to God for the Pope that he gifted us and for his renunciation of the papacy, which opens new perspectives for the Church.
As in the recent past, the transition from one Pope to another (eg from Pius XII to John XXIII to Paul VI), the Church is no longer the same, precisely because times change and also the proclamation of Christ must be adapted to modern man. The same truth as always, but expressed and lived in a totally new way. Thus, speculation and discussion about who will be the next Pope is of little importance, as we are already sure that the Pope will be the best Pope for the Church today.
What is important, however, is that the whole Church, all believers, ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to welcome and to follow him with prayer and in obedience to his indications on the path to be taken in bringing Jesus Christ closer to our contemporaries, especially those who know Him but still reject Him. A colossal undertaking that only through an enthusiastic faith for the mission of the Church, prayer and witness of Christian life, will bear fruit.
Father Piero Gheddo of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and founder of the missionary news agency AsiaNews
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