— Feb. 28, 201328 févr. 2013

Last week I invited reflections from the readers of Ecumenism in Canada on the ecumenical significance of the papal resignation. Here are the first of the reflections received:

John H. Armstrong, ACT3 Network, Carol Stream, IL (USA) — While the media discusses what they think about a pope resigning office ecumenical Christians should ask deeper questions rooted in faith, hope and love. I believe Pope Benedict XVI made a courageous decision that demonstrates deep humility. In this decision he has opened the door to deeper conversations about the unity of the whole church. The fuller implications of his decision will not be understood for decades. Historians will likely see this as a significant step into a new world shaped by global realities. Will the papacy be the same in 2050? I doubt it. I have no idea what this means but I do believe history was made by the decision of this humble man, a decision that showed us what serving Christ looks like in a time when true peacemaking and humility could not be more important.

Brian Flanagan, Marymount University, Arlington, VA (USA), reprinted from Daily Theology — The best thing about Benedict’s announced resignation is that it helps restore our understanding of the papacy to that of an office rather than a personal possession. The pope exercises his authority as the bishop of Rome and, because of that, the universal pastor, as the head of a local church, not because of a permanent change in his personal status (like being baptized, being ordained or being made a cardinal). Benedict’s own ecclesiological background is helpful here, in that he knows very well what a difference this makes. One could even speculate that this is a not-so-subtle contrast with the personality-driven papacy of his predecessor, John Paul II, a style of papacy that Benedict has studiously avoided. In addition to the possible practical benefits of having a younger man (in Vatican terms…) at the helm, preventing the administrative and bureaucratic mayhem of the last years of John Paul’s papacy, this move symbolically brings the papacy down to its proper size. The papacy can now be clearly seen as a crucial office of the universal church, but one in which the pope remains an officeholder, rather than an irreplaceable, magical figure. I’d bet €20, if the Vatican could accept credit cards, that Benedict is doing this with a great deal of conscious awareness of the ecclesiological, and not just the practical, implications for future papacies. The precedent may well be his greatest gift to the church.

As I reflect upon the papal resignation, it occurs to me that this is perhaps the most visible change in the papacy in recent memory, although it still remains to be seen whether future popes will follow the example. I suspect that they will. There are other changes that have happened that might not be remembered or be as visible:

Posted: Feb. 28, 2013 • Permanent link:
Categories: OpinionIn this article: Benedict XVI, Christian unity, dialogue, ecumenism, papacy, petrine ministry, Ut Unum Sint
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Catégorie : OpinionDans cet article : Benedict XVI, Christian unity, dialogue, ecumenism, papacy, petrine ministry, Ut Unum Sint

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