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Catholic Voice
February 18, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Pontificate marked by teaching,
call to return to faith

Answers concerning the resignation
What will Pope Benedict XVI's
legacy be?

Text of Pope Benedict XVI's
resignation announcement

14 cardinals from Canada,
US can vote in conclave
Pope's action bold, thoughtful

Pope Benedict XVI stands with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle and Archbishop Alex J. Brunett of Oakland during an April 23, 2012 meeting on their "ad limina" visit to the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI's stunning announcement he would retire at the end of this month is just as bold and thoughtful as it is surprising, said Archbishop Alex J. Brunett.

Archbishop Brunett, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Oakland, told local Catholics that the pope's plan "demonstrates his courage and wisdom in preparing for a new chapter of our Church."

"The Holy Father's timing is significant — coming during the Year of Faith, part of the New Evangelization to engage the world with the spiritual mission of the Church, and timed so a new pontiff may be elected by Easter," the archbishop said in an email sent Feb. 12 to parishes around the diocese.

In addition to his intellect and humility, Pope Benedict's legacy is also marked by "this unprecedented announcement," the archbishop said. "Of the few popes who have resigned — the last 600 years ago — only one did so freely, Pope Celestine V."

The work of the church will continue while a successor of Pope Benedict is chosen, the archbishop added.

Like Archbishop Brunett, Rev. Michael Sweeney, OP, president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, agrees the pope's announcement was a "wonderfully courageous act."

Rev. Sweeney

During nearly eight years as pope, Benedict XVI dealt with many changes and demands on the papacy, with travel, and always being in front of the press, "something that no other pope has faced," Father Sweeney said. This is "a good judgment for the church."

The pope's announcement also emphasized hope on a theological level, Father Sweeney added. "It is a deeply hopeful gesture to entrust the church to the Lord. It shows extraordinary confidence in the Lord and in the church."

Most significantly, Pope Benedict's move put an added emphasis on the office of the papacy. "He is resigning from office, with great hope and confidence," Father Sweeney said.

The resignation will probably change the papacy forever, said Thomas Cattoi, associate professor of Christology and cultures at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

He is going to be remembered in a different way, not just as the staunch traditionalist that many define him as, Cattoi said.

Pope Benedict will be remembered for maintaining his status as a theologian, Cattoi said, adding that as pontiff, he continued to write, producing a three-volume study on the life of Jesus. Pope Benedict will also be remembered for liberalizing the celebration of the Latin Mass, and he will be remembered for being more decisive in addressing the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

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