Did Benedict XVI resign because of a “mystical experience”?

From The Guardian (which I take with a grain or two of salt when it comes to the Church):

Ex-pope Benedict says God told him to resign during ‘mystical experience’
Pope Francis’s predecessor breaks silence to contradict explanation he gave to cardinals when he stepped down
Tom Kington in Rome

The former pope Benedict has claimed that his resignation in February was prompted by God, who told him to do it during a “mystical experience“.

Breaking his silence for the first time since he became the first pope to step down in 600 years, the 86-year-old reportedly said: “God told me to” when asked what had pushed him to retire to a secluded residence in the Vatican gardens.

Benedict denied he had been visited by an apparition or had heard God’s voice, but said he had undergone a “mystical experience” during which God had inspired in him an “absolute desire” to dedicate his life to prayer rather than push on as pope.

The German ex-pontiff’s comments, which are said to have been made a few weeks ago, were reported by the Catholic news agency Zenit, which did not name the person Benedict had spoken to.

A senior Vatican source said the report was reliable. “The report seems credible. It accurately explains the spiritual process that brought Benedict to resign,” he said.

Benedict said his mystical experience had lasted months, building his desire to create a direct and exclusive relationship with God. Now, after witnessing the “charisma” of his successor, Pope Francis, Benedict said he understood to a greater extent how his stepping aside was the “will of God”.

Benedict’s reported remarks contrast with the explanation he gave to cardinals when he announced his resignation on 11 February. “My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said then.

[...]

Zenit reported that Benedict has stuck to his plan to live a life of secluded prayer, receiving very few visitors at his house in the Vatican’s gardens, which enjoys views across Rome to the Apennine mountains beyond.

“During these meetings, the ex-pontiff does not comment, does not reveal secrets, does not make statements that could be understood as ‘the words of the other pope’, but is as reserved as he has always been,” wrote Zenit.

[...]

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42 Responses to Did Benedict XVI resign because of a “mystical experience”?

  1. haribo says:

    If Benedict really did resign due to a private revelation, then I think we need to reconsider many of the reservations traditionalist and conservative Catholics have about Francis. As Catholics, we can really only rely on the Pope to protect the deposit of Faith. But when a Pope resigns due to a private revelation, what does that say about the next Pope? If God revealed to Benedict that he ought to step down, it was only to ensure Bergoglio would follow and put into place everything he already has. That includes his more progressive approach to liturgy (Holy Thursday?), recasting the papacy, moving away from traditional expressions of his authority, and his relative silence on cultural issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. At the very least, it would seem the Holy Spirit is not a traditionalist.

  2. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    It’s hardly a contradiction, as he may well have had both a mystical experience in which he came to understand that God wanted him to step aside, and had come to an awareness of how his own age and declining health were making the day-to-day task of governing the Church something he could no longer adequately perform. No one studies logic anymore!

  3. kclark14 says:

    @Haribo,

    The Holy Spirit must have experienced quite the change of heart in just 7 years, 11 months.

  4. sejoga says:

    Deacon Allen posted something very similar to what I was going to say.

    I have to disagree with haribo, however, that God asked Benedict to step down as an assurance that his predecessor would necessarily be the choice of the Holy Spirit. This is not because I’m some radical traditionalist who hates the Holy Father. I’ve just never been comfortable with the pious rationalization that God himself chooses the Pope and therefore the person who becomes Pope is always the best suited to the position or the one most in line with God’s will.

    I just believe in the little aphorism, “God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called.” I don’t believe the Holy Spirit chooses the successor of the Pope; I do believe that the Holy Spirit makes the most of every person so chosen.

    I suspect that Benedict’s mystical experience had more to do with strengthening his faith in this matter. It’s clear that Benedict truly felt incapable of continuing and had a strong personal desire to step down, but I suspect he wrongly believed God wanted him to continue and lacked faith that all would be well if he didn’t serve till the end of his life. I firmly believe that God reached out to him mystically in assurance that the Church would prevail in spite of Benedict’s choice to abdicate.

    I just think it’s supremely unwise for any Catholic to suppose that God always approves of every whim and disposition of the Pope, which is what haribo’s comment hints at. (I’m not suggesting haribo himself feels this way, just that many who express similar ideas to his *do* feel that way.) And I sincerely doubt haribo would have written the same comment had the Conclave elected Cardinal Burke… if it wouldn’t be true for Burke, it must not be true for Bergoglio.

    The Holy Spirit makes use of what he is given… and I suppose the Holy Spirit moved Benedict to have faith in this truth, to soothe his conscience as he tended towards the decision to abdicate.

  5. OrthodoxChick says:

    I don’t know about this supposed report. The article itself states, ““During these meetings, the ex-pontiff does not comment, does not reveal secrets, does not make statements that could be understood as ‘the words of the other pope’, but is as reserved as he has always been,” wrote Zenit.”

    Now if that’s the case, then how did rumors of P.E. Benedic’s mystical experience leak out in the first place? They are blatantly contradicting their own report in its final paragraph. I have always assumed that B16 certainly must have gone into some serious prayer and discernment to arrive at his decision. That sould be a given, right? Maybe he really did receive some sort of mystical sense that God would permit him to resign. I’m sure he wouldn’t have resigned if he felt that his doing so would displease Our Lord in any way. But that’s not exactly the same thing as saying “God told me to do it”. And even if that were the case, I think B16 would keep that to himself.

    Me thinks The Guardian is up to something.

  6. ClavesCoelorum says:

    I don’t see the contradiction either. Everyone could see that he wasn’t exactly strong. It’s a matter of what one tells the public, how does it appear? If he had said: “God told me to!”, imagine the media laughing and ridiculing him.

  7. Andrew says:

    This seems to be the original source of this story. The source prefers to remain anonymous.
    http://www.zenit.org/it/articles/benedetto-xvi-per-tre-ore-ieri-a-castel-gandolfo-tra-passeggiata-rosario-e-concerto

  8. mamajen says:

    @Deacon Nathan Allen

    My thoughts exactly! His declining health could be the reason he felt called to a life of prayer instead. I don’t like the term “contradict” because it implies that Pope Benedict lied, which he would never do.

    @Haribo

    You’re being ridiculous. Of course the Holy Spirit is not a traditionalist, or any other label that humans apply to themselves. I don’t think the private revelation, if this is true, says anything about Pope Francis and what he has done so far. God surely intended for him to be pope, but that does not mean that everything he has done (or hasn’t) is perfect. That said, nitpicking Pope Francis’ every move and showing disrespect for him was, and is, wrong with or without the knowledge of this revelation.

  9. Sixupman says:

    I pray what it is wishful thinking upon the part of Haribo!

  10. iPadre says:

    I don’t believe it. And, if it were true, Benedict is not going to go around bragging that he had mystical experience. For the whole of his Papacy, and his priesthood, he was reserved and humble, I don’t think that is going to change now.

  11. drea916 says:

    So what?!
    I’m sorry. I don’t understand why this is supposed to be news. Isn’t this called discernment? Occasionally, when I’m praying the Rosary I hear God very clearly too. (I’m not great at praying, and most of the time I got nothin’) I’m sure B16 has developed his prayer life over the years and is intimate with God. It didn’t say that the BVM appeared to him, or that he heard God’s voice. He was praying and he discerned God’s will. Big whoop dee do.

  12. McCall1981 says:

    @ Haribo,
    1. What you’re saying would imply that the Holy Spirit made a mistake at the 2005 conclave, and then waited eight years before deciding to to replace Benedict, which are both ridiculous.
    2. God allows/causes the Church to be persecuted and to suffer throughout history. By your logic we could just as easily say the Holy Spirit got rid of “good” Benedict brought in “bad” Francis to cause the Church to suffer. I don’t agree with this, but your premise works both ways.
    3. If Benedict did have a mystical experience, it would imply that he is very close to God, and would only further validate eveything he did, not contradict it.

  13. slainewe says:

    Have we completely given up our understanding of the pope as Holy FATHER?

    If the father of a large family had a mystical experience that called him to a life of secluded prayer rather than the daily crucifixion of providing for his wife and children, from whom would his spiritual director tell him came such a call?

    And now we are told that His Holiness DESIRED this life (as opposed to submitting to something he did not will) which is another red flag in the discernment process.

    (Of course, if the pope is just a CEO, it doesn’t matter when he resigns or why he does it. )

    I can only hope this story is a fabrication.

  14. Mark H. says:

    The Guardian isn’t the only, or the first, to report this, although I don’t see the contradiction that they see.
    More to the point, he wasn’t bragging, but explaining what led to his decision. He merely said what happened (a mystical experience) and when (prayer over the course of several months), and nothing else. If this is accurate, which a senior Vatican official says it is, then perhaps we have reason for the slowdown on the encyclical work and other things.
    It also might make sense with those parts where he said “I have come to a certainty” and “deep questions…” in his resignation announcement more significant than we previously thought when we focused on the health parts, important as they are.

  15. Torpedo1 says:

    I agree with the Deacon on this. It isn’t a contradiction at all. His age and health were a concern, yes, but perhaps God knows he can do more good through a life of prayer than he could as Pope. I’ve often said that the contemplative orders who dedicate themselves to prayer are the beating heart of the Church. I believe their efforts have stayed God’s hand and his divine justice many times so why isn’t this a good thing? Plus, yes, let’s wait and see what further reporting shakes out. I agree with Fr. Z, take it with a grain or two of salt.

  16. jonvilas says:

    Well, this might be a contradiction for The Guardian. As far as I remember, pope Benedict XVI himself explained quite clearly, that the decision of abdication has come after long and serious exploration of conscious. It is very likely that during these spiritual exercises he came very close or really had a mystical experience of God and His will as regards Benedict himself. This information just adds more clearness to the whole picture.

  17. haribo says:

    @sejoga

    “And I sincerely doubt haribo would have written the same comment had the Conclave elected Cardinal Burke… if it wouldn’t be true for Burke, it must not be true for Bergoglio.”

    I myself am a liturgical traditionalist, so I would have been very pleased had Burke been elected. But I’m open to the possibility that what I think is best for the Church really isn’t really what’s best for the Church. My point was that because this election directly resulted from a private revelation revealing God’s preferential (desirative) will and not his permissive will (what God simply allows to happen), then the overarching themes of Francis papacy so far (deemphasis of major cultural issues, redefining the papacy, progressive liturgy) are also “prefered” and not simply “permitted.”

    @McCal1981

    The Holy Spirit simply permits the election of a Pope. In normal circumstances where a pope dies and another is elected, such as in 2005, we could only say that the Holy Spirit simply allowed the next Pope to be chosen. But my point is that Benedict’s abdication and the conclave it set in motion resulted from a private revelation of God’s “preferential will,” which is something very different from the death of a Pope due to the laws of divine providence. As such, since what resulted from the abdication and conclave was foreseen by God when he revealed his will to Benedict, this makes Francis’ “revolution” also part God’s preferential will.

    If Benedict views Francis’ charisma as a confirmation he was right to abdicate, it means he believes God wanted Bergoglio to become Pope. And God would have foreseen not just Bergoglio’s charisma, but Bergoglio’s revolution. Maybe someone can point out where I’m wrong.

  18. Haribo, God does not only affirmatively will things to happen; He also permits things to happen. Some things He permits for our chastisement.

  19. Palladio says:

    “Benedict’s reported remarks contrast with the explanation he gave to cardinals when he announced his resignation on 11 February. “My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said then.”

    No, if the story is true, it complements the letter, delivered in Latin, he wrote and everybody has read.That is obvious. The newspaper, surprise, surprise, is grasping at straws, trying to make news instead of, surprise, surprise, reporting it.

    Anybody who could doubt that that great man could have a mystical experience just cannot see him for who he is.

  20. Jon says:

    Not unless Giovanni Battista Re is the voice of the Deity.

    Count me among the skeptics.

  21. Robbie says:

    I’m sorry to be that guy, but I don’t like this. As the current Pope might say, “Who am I to judge”, when it comes to Benedict’s statement, but I find it very hard to believe God would signal he wanted Benedict to step down. If ever there was a Pope whom God would encourage to abdicate, I would think it would have been John Paul II. After all, he was afflicted with terrible illness in his last years. Yet, as far as we know, God sent no signal to JPII that he should do so.

    From the beginning, I thought Benedict’s abdication was wrong and, frankly, yet another novelty of VCII. The papacy has always been a vocation, not merely a job. I just find it hard to believe God would choose this man as the one who should abdicate the papacy when compared to the lesser men who held the position like Alexander VI or Urban VI.

  22. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Pope Francis I hasn’t perpetrated a “revolution.” If anything, he’s scooping up the stragglers on the more progressive side and pushing them back up to the center, while encouraging folks on the more traditional side to do more good works.

    Everything else is the media futzing around, which is business as usual.

    And bishops have always been able to resign for reasons of poor health, including the Bishop of Rome. It’s amazing the resistance that people have to the exercise of a simple right, just because some popes have chosen not to exercise the right while others have chosen to do so. Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is just like a lot of other things that he did differently than his friend and predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Prudence often dictates that different people, faced with similar but different situations, wisely choose to do different things.

    If God gave Benedict a nudge to assert this right of the pope, that’s even better. (Because you know Germans like to work themselves into the grave.)

  23. Maria says:

    iPadre says:
    21 August 2013 at 10:36 am

    Father, I agree with you.

  24. Robbie says:

    Suburbanbanshee

    You make it sound as if papal abdication has been a commonplace event. It’s not and never has been. Benedict was the first to do so in more than 600 hundred years. Gregory XII, the last to abdicate, did so to end the schism. Before that, Celestine quit in 1294 because he essentially lacked the skills to govern the Church and had to create the canons to do so. The few other instances of abdication happened in the earliest days of the Church history, mostly in favor of “antipopes”.

    And while the Pope may be considered the Bishop of Rome, he is hardly just another Bishop. He is the Supreme Pontiff. Even Paul VI in the late 1970′s, when asked about abdication, implied that kings can can abdicate but popes can’t. If abdication was as common as you imply, why have just 10 done so in 2000 years? Three of those abdications are disputed, by the way.

    To say Benedict’s abdication was merely just another thing he did differently from JPII, implies it was on par with the liturgical differences the two had. That trivializes the historic nature of the event.

  25. HighMass says:

    Dear iPadre,

    Couldn’t agree with you more! There is more to this whole story than we know right now…..inside the Curia it is said there is alot of house cleaning that needs to happen….How i miss how Papino Dressed as a Pope….but more than that it is his humility……and so much more……

    This is a wound that just doesn’t seem to want to heal or stop aching……
    Pope Benedict we miss you.

  26. Mark H. says:

    OK, so for those who don’t like that a holy man like Benedict XVI resigned when lesser men have held the office, you are acting as if the only way to show strength and carry out God’s work is from a position of earthly power. But there is clearly power in weakness (the theologia Crucis is the foundation of that, if I may show my Lutheran colors for a moment), and Benedict, by resigning, paradoxically showed more strength than Alexander VI or Julius II or Leo X who held their power for all it was worth. Benedict showed the power of humility, and it has paid off for the Church, because it then got Francis, who is continuing the trend of humility and living up to the “Servus Servorum” title. He even spoke to the Brazilian bishops about strength in weakness and humility. There is power in humility, Benedict taught us by his action, and we would do well to dwell on the fact that he gave his office up out of humility and service to the Church. Sometimes what the Church needs is not what I need. We need to be OK with that. Maybe God is trying to teach us something. Perhaps more than any writing or document, Benedict’s resignation could be his most important teaching to all of us. Instead of criticizing an action that was very much in line with the imitatio Christi, we could learn also from such humility that makes us more like Christ.

  27. maryh says:

    As @Palladio says, just the news making something out of nothing. Mainly, I guess, because they don’t really understand what PE Benedict was talking about when he said he’d spent months of serious prayer trying to discern what to do. And as @drea916 says, this mystical experience sounds like discernment to me.

    And no, I don’t see any contradiction either, between the reason he gave and this one. It is, after all, possible to have more than one reason to do something. And given the possibility of misinterpretation, I can easily see why he kept that reason to himself, or at least didn’t specifically use the term “mystical experience” before.

    Nor do I see that it makes much difference to how we are to see the abdication of PE Benedict or the election of Pope Francis. What did we think PE Benedict meant when he said he’d prayed for months until he was certain he was doing the right thing? Isn’t a “sense of certainty” that you are doing the right thing, that you believe comes from God, almost by definition a kind of mystical experience?

    Or did we think PE had actually gotten it wrong? Possible, I suppose, and if we are inclined to think so, I guess it’s just as possible his mystical experience is wrongly interpreted as well. Not every mystical experience is rightly interpreted by those who have them.

    As for @Supertradmum, I totally agree. PE Benedict didn’t start some kind of revolution by abdicating. He did something rare but not revolutionary. And I like your summary:
    If anything, he’s scooping up the stragglers on the more progressive side and pushing them back up to the center, while encouraging folks on the more traditional side to do more good works.

    Let’s pray that it works.

  28. Michael_Thoma says:

    I can believe it, in the true Catholic sense. His Holiness is a saint in my book, and will be recognized as such in due time.
    From Catholic Encyclopedia:

    The Fathers recognized indeed the partial truth of the pagan system, but they pointed out also its fundamental errors. They made a distinction between reason and faith, philosophy and theology; they acknowledged the aspirations of the soul, but, at the same time, they emphasized its essential inability to penetrate the mysteries of Divine life. They taught that the vision of God is the work of grace and the reward of eternal life; in the present life only a few souls, by a special grace, can reach it. On these principles, the Christian school of Alexandria opposed the true gnosis based on grace and faith to the Gnostic heresies. St. Augustine teaches indeed that we know the essences of things in rationibus aeternis, but this knowledge has its starting point in the data of sense (cf. Quæstiones, LXXXIII, c. xlvi). Pseudo-Dionysius, in his various works, gave a systematic treatment of Christian Mysticism, carefully distinguishing between rational and mystical knowledge. By the former, he says, we know God, not in His nature, but through the wonderful order of the universe, which is a participation of the Divine ideas (“De Divinis Nomin.”, c, vii, §§ 2-3, in P.G., III, 867 sq.). There is, however, he adds, a more perfect knowledge of God possible in this life, beyond the attainments of reason even enlightened by faith, through which the soul contemplates directly the mysteries of Divine light. The contemplation in the present life is possible only to a few privileged souls, through a very special grace of God: it is the theosis, mystike enosis.
    [continued..]
    The Catholic Church, as guardian of Christian doctrine, through her teaching and theologians, gave the solution of the problem. She asserted the limits of human reason: the human soul has a natural capacity (potentia obedientialis), but no exigency and no positive ability to reach God otherwise than by analogical knowledge. She condemned the immediate vision of the Beghards and Beguines (cf. Denzinger-Bannwart, “Enchiridion”, nn. 474-5), the pseudo-Mysticism of Eckhart (ibid., nn. 501-29), and Molinos (ibid., nn. 2121-88), the theories of the Ontologists (ibid., nn. 1659-65, 1891-1930), and Pantheism under all its forms (ibid., nn. 1801-5), as well as the vital Immanence and religious experience of the Modernists (ibid., nn. 2071-109). But she teaches that, what man cannot know by natural reason, he can know through revelation and faith; that what he cannot attain to by his natural power he can reach by the grace of God. God has gratuitously elevated human nature to a supernatural state. He has assigned as its ultimate end the direct vision of Himself, the Beatific Vision. But this end can be reached only in the next life; in the present life we can but prepare ourselves for it with the aid of revelation and grace. To some souls, however, even in the present life, God gives a very special grace by which they are enabled to feel His sensible presence; this is true mystical contemplation. In this act, there is no annihilation or absorption of the creature into God, but God becomes intimately present to the created mind and this, enlightened by special illuminations, contemplates with ineffable joy the Divine essence.

  29. Quanah says:

    @slainewe
    Celestine V abdicated. He’s a saint. I think he had a pretty good understanding of what it meant to be a father. The papacy is not something one brings upon themselves. They are appointed by God and reign according to His good will. If the Church allows popes to retire then that action being taken by a pope does not necessarily betray a deficiency in their understanding of being a father. As for discernment, while it is possible that God may call us to something that we ourselves do not want, it is also possible that He calls us to something that we do desire. Considering how much more Benedict has progressed in the spiritual life than myself, I’ll just trust he was able to distinguish between simply desiring something and recognizing his desire being aligned with God’s will.

    @Robbie
    Who has ever understood the Lord’s thoughts, or been His counselor? – Rom 11:34

    It is My turn to ask questions now, thine to answer them. From what vantage point wast thou watching, when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, whence comes this sure knowledge of thine? Tell me, since thou art so wise, was it thou or I designed earth’s plan, measuring it out with the line? How came its base to stand so firm; who laid its corner-stone? To me, that day, all the morning stars sang together, all the powers of heaven uttered their joyful praise. … – Job 38:3ff for many chapters

    Not mine, the Lord says, to think as you think, deal as you deal; by the full height of heaven above the earth, my dealings are higher than your dealings, my thoughts that your thoughts. – Is 55:8-9

  30. As iPadre and others say here, I don’t believe the story. Or rather, my first impression is disbelief and the spidey-sense of being very wary of hearing God in prayer tell us what we want to hear.

    The story may not really be a fabrication when one considers that Benedict probably prayed long and hard over this decision, and came to the conclusion that stepping down would please God. One could refer to this as a ‘mystical experience’ but unfortunately this term is way overused and way misunderstood. This story may be more along the lines of exaggeration and letting inaccuracies persist when inaccuracies serve a purpose, by letting people believe something by not correcting a misunderstanding. Not exactly lying…just allowing a misconception to bloom.

    Many are uncomfortable with Benedict’s stepping down from the Chair – highly unusual, not understood, and certainly extremely rare. This story says, in a way, ‘Benedict was really supposed to step down!’ Is this story supposed to convince the disgusted, disappointed or the confused? I dunno.

    I reserve judgement on Benedict’s stepping down. It doesn’t make me happy, makes me a little suspicious, but I don’t have enough real information to understand and come to a real conclusion. However this story makes me a little more suspicious! If it is made up…why?

  31. Imrahil says:

    Well,

    the previous Holy Father thought about abdicating. He brought all that to the Lord, in prayer. He received assurance that it is the right step.

    The only one to whom this has a personal meaning in conscience is the previous Holy Father. The rest of us has accepted his decision in obedience anyway, even if under a “whether it be right or no”.

    The way it was presented it is not a private revelation properly. Just the “ordinary” relationship with God of a faithful person who, in this case, happens to be the Holy Father.

    But even if it did qualify as a private revelation, this would mean that we would not ought to disapprove of the previous Holy Father’s resignation – and that’s that.

  32. MarcAnthony says:

    Question: Who cares? What does this change? How does this affect us?

    Francis is our Pope and as loyal Catholics we should support him, whatever the circumstances of Pope emeritus Benedict’s resignation.

  33. Lin says:

    I agree with iPadre! And I miss Pope Benedict a lot! It has never felt right that he abdicated. And I am still very uncomfortable with the progressives dancing in the street over Pope Francis.

  34. When I read this on Drudge this morning the first thought that came to mind was the lightning bolt hitting the Vatican the day he resigned. Then I recalled another wise priest’s remark who warned, “not every spirit that comes to us is a holy spirit.” But I’m sure Pope Benedict knows how to discern the spirits . . . I assume . . .

  35. HighMass says:

    I agree with LIN…it just feels so wrong not to have our sweet Benedict in the chair of St. Peter…..what a beautiful and wonderful Pope is was……again a hurt that just doesn’t heal….la suo mancanza e brutto.

  36. Lin says:

    “not every spirit that comes to us is a holy spirit”. I could help but think of the “spirit” of Vatican II!

  37. LauraKazlas says:

    I believe that our former Pope Benedict had a mystical experience. God asked him to resign. It’s the truth. I’m certain of it. God bless him. May he remain in God’s loving care, in a life of prayer for the remainder of his days. Pope Emeritus Benedict is the real deal. This is as genuine as it gets. He is a very holy man and an example for the whole world to follow. His obedience to God, and his love for God is a beautiful thing. He loves all of us, the Catholic church, and we love him too. May he be enveloped in God’s love, and ours, for the remainder of his days.

  38. slainewe says:

    Does a good shepherd not defend his flock to the death?
    Did Peter take a detour rather than return to Rome for crucifixion?
    Did Jesus come down from the Cross before, “It is consummated?”

    I don’t see how “allowing” kings to abdicate makes the act objectively good, any more than Moses allowing divorce made it objectively good. I see abdication always as a tragedy, even when subjectively necessary (as in the case of King David).

    The only thing that made Benedict’s abdication subjectively necessary in my eyes was if he was actually told by the Lord to do so and it was contrary to his personal will; that is, he suffered the HUMILIATION of abandoning his flock for love of God and the flock. In my mind, he should have felt like Abraham being told to kill Isaac.

    In light of what most popes have suffered to stay on the cross of the papacy, this story makes the recent abdication sound like a trite decision. So I can’t believe it.

  39. Michael_Thoma says:

    I don’t understand the above view of the Papacy at all. This is ultramontanism take to a far greater extreme than even the strawmen that protestants caricature. The Pope is first a Bishop, Bishop of Rome. Bishops have vocation and an indelible mark, but not to exercising that vocation within the See for life. They can resign, they can retire. Just as Patriarchs can, just as Bishops and priests can. Anyone taking a view that the Pope must be exercising his office for life or else he is abandoning the Church, is in a theological mess.

  40. slainewe says:

    @Michael_Thoma

    My understanding is that priests don’t retire from what is essential to the priesthood. They still retain all the spiritual powers of the priesthood. Bishops don’t retire from what is essential to the episcopate. They still retain all the spiritual powers of the episcopate. However, when a pope abdicates, he is no longer the Vicar of Christ. He has surrendered what is essential to the papacy. “Pope Emeritus” really is merely an honorary title. (I find this title confusing because it makes it appear that it is the same as being a “Bishop Emeritus,” which it isn’t. A bishop emeritus is still a bishop. Benedict is not the pope.)

  41. Legisperitus says:

    Abp. Gänswein says this is all bunk.

    http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=8327