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Rome Reports

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The many achievements of Benedict XVI’s pontificate


Benedict XVI’s biographers have a clear picture of the pope emeritus in mind. While he did not have the charisma of John Paul II, he always exhibited a firm resolve. As pope, one of his first actions was to demand the retirement of Marcial Maciel on account of his history of abuse. 

ROBERTO REGOLI
Author, “El Pontificado de Benedicto XVI”
“Until that moment Marcial Maciel seemed untouchable. Back then, convicted priests were removed from public life to devote themselves to penitence. Then, slowly, the sentences became harsher, but this decision was significant because it concerned a public figure known not only on the national level but around the world.”

Benedict’s biographers also highlight his ability to engage in dialogue with groups outside of the Church, such as the schismatic Lefebvrians. He also developed a path for integrating married Anglican clergy into the Catholic Church.

ROBERTO REGOLI
Author, “El Pontificado de Benedicto XVI”
“From my point of view, what sets Benedict XVI apart is his creativity. He had that freedom of thought that allowed him to find new solutions to different types of problems.”

PABLO BLANCO
Author, “Benedicto XVI, la biografía”
“The title of pontifex, of pontiff, actually translates to bridge builder.”

Despite this title, an incident at Regensburg in 2006 threatened to damage the Vatican’s relationship with Islam. Speaking at his former university, Benedict XVI did not anticipate the controversy his remarks would produce.  

BENEDICT XVI
“God is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature.”

These words prompted large street protests in parts of the Muslim world, yet his biographers point out that the incident indirectly had a positive effect.

PABLO BLANCO
Author, “Benedicto XVI, la biografía”
“After that speech many Muslim leaders joined those expressing support for Benedict. One could say the end result was a greater dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Islamic world than ever before.”

Benedict XVI also began the financial reforms that have since been assumed by Francis. Following the formation of the European Union, the Church was forced to modernize the management of its finances.

And when least expected, Benedict XVI resigned, allowing a more energetic figure to continue his project—an act his biographers regard as the culmination of his creativity.  

Yet Benedict XVI’s greatest contribution to the Church was his magisterium. According to scholars, his catecheses, encyclicals on central aspects of the faith, and biographies on Jesus of Nazareth could qualify him to one day be declared a doctor of the Church. 

Javier Romero

Translation: Justin McLellan