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Francisco Varo, Professor of Theology at the University of Navarra, Spain
The Withdrawal to the ministry of Bishop of Rome, announced yesterday by Benedict XVI, has shocked the world. Joseph Ratzinger has made a far-sighted, humble and supernaturally meaningful decision. It takes a clear intelligence, together with a profound simplicity, to adequately weigh one's physical strength against the needs of the government of the Church in the 21st century, which are not the same as the needs of the Church in the 21st century. in the 21st century, which are not comparable to the situations experienced in the past, so it is not fair to make hasty comparisons.
Faced with the initial surprise, the first reaction of many Christians has been the same: Thank you, Holy Father, for the great service you have rendered to the Church and to humanity in these years!
It has fallen to you to take the helm of Peter's ship in times of world crisis, in very difficult times. He was aware of the status when he was elected Pope. A few days before, he had pronounced some words that reflected well his acute perception of reality, free of prejudices, aware of the origin of the problems and of where the formula that can recompose the fractures of our world is to be found. Is there a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and that leaves as its ultimate measure only the self and its desires. We have another measure: the Son of God, the true man".
With this fundamental reference letter , with his gaze fixed on Jesus Christ, he has been a tireless fighter for the truth, even when the truth was uncomfortable. His tireless efforts to resolve the cases of sexual abuse committed by some ecclesiastics and to purify the Church of the sins of men are eloquent testimony to his passion for the truth and his closeness to the victims.
It could be said that, in many respects, his pontificate has been anything but conventional. The appearance of his three-volume work "Jesus of Nazareth" is a major event because of its novelty, surprising nature of the subject matter, significance and impact. He was the first Pope in history to publish a theological book at degree scroll staff , not as Roman Pontiff, and, therefore, without considering it an act of the magisterium,
without considering it an act of the magisterium proper to his position, explicitly admitting that "everyone is free to contradict him" and asking only "of the readers a disposition of sympathy without which there can be no understanding".
The decision announced yesterday is also unconventional. It had happened only a few times in history, many centuries ago, and in quite different situations. In this case it constitutes a masterly lesson of intelligence to perceive things in their right dimension and of profound humility. The position of Roman Pontiff is more of a burden than a position , like all the tasks of government in the Church. If they are assumed as they should be, they do not constitute a goal staff for ambitious people, nor points of influence to impose one's own ideas, but modes of selfless service to the truth revealed by God, and with it to all Christians and to all humanity. Jesus himself said of himself that he had not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life.
but to serve and to give his life for many. Throughout these eight years of pontificate, the Pope has been a good disciple of such a great master, a "humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" as he defined himself in his first words, immediately after his election. His decision to retire when he realizes that he lacks the physical strength necessary to carry out his service with the energy required by the present moment, honors him as a person and as a believer, since it constitutes the clearest testimony that his whole life has no other purpose than to serve the Gospel in the best possible way, and, as of the end of this month, that way will be prayer.
His decision deserves every respect, and his person deserves just recognition for the great services that, with his fidelity to the truth and with his example of loving submission , he has rendered to the Church and to humanity.