On Monday, Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI made headlines by announcing his resignation due to health concerns, and he will step down from his position at the end of the month. The first pope to take such action in nearly 600 years, many national — and international — media outlets called upon papacy experts from the Holy Cross community for perspective.
On NPR’s All Things Considered, Rev. Thomas W. Worcester S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, cited a nefarious papal resignation of the past. Occurring in 1415, the resignation was more of a referendum, as Pope Gregory XII was essentially voted out of his position.“Benedict is quite courageous to do this because he didn’t have a good precedent for it,” Fr. Worcester said. “[H]e now establishes a precedent that I think could be healthy for the church,” he continued.
In a post for the Washington Post’s religion blog On Faith, Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies at Holy Cross, also commented on the pope’s landmark announcement. Reflecting on Benedict XVI’s legacy, Schmalz said that his “papacy has been marked by personal humility and a continuing reassertion of papal authority worldwide.”
In USA Today, Schmalz further reflected on Benedict XVI’s legacy, saying, “I think everyone recognizes, whether they agreed with him or disagreed with him in terms of doctrinal positions, that he was who he was. That he wasn’t trying to be a different person as pope than he was as a cardinal, as a bishop, and as a priest.” According to Schmalz, “[L]etting go of papal power has never been framed in such a powerful way…There is indeed power in letting go.”
In the Telegram & Gazette, Thomas Landy, director of the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College, said that he expects the College of Cardinals will quickly elect a new pope. Alluding to complex travel itineraries, he said, “It’s just really about getting the jet tickets in hand.”
Selected news coverage:
Internationally, Holy Cross faculty members were quoted in Pravda, Slovakia’s largest newspaper, and De Volkskrant in the Netherlands.
This ‘Holy Cross in the News’ item by David Cotrone ’13.