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Perceptive commentary: Douthat, Peters, Warren, Guenois

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 05, 2013

As a service to our readers, once again we call attention to some of the most interesting commentary that has appeared on other sites regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the prospects for the March conclave. For our efforts to correct some of the less astute commentary, see our separate “Popular Misconceptions” series, which will continue through the papal election.

  • While the New York Times has given its op-ed space to several misguided critics of the Church (see today’s installment of Popular Misconceptions), in-house columnist Ross Douthat offered a perceptive and sympathetic appraisal of The Ratzinger Legacy.
  • David Warren, too, was perceptive and sympathetic in his commentary on the papal resignation and the media coverage, noting that in the last days of his pontificate Benedict XVI “has been making administrative decisions that could so easily have been shirked.” More generally, Warren commented:
    He has been condemned by the world for many petty things, & many imaginary. He has been condemned even for not being someone else; for knowing himself & knowing his limitations, & making them his strengths.
  • Canon lawyer Edward Peters, commenting on the scandal that brought down the Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien and convinced him that he should not attend the conclave, objected to the “circumlocutions” in public statements on the unhappy affair.
  • Readers with a working knowledge of French could profit from the analysis by Jean-Marie Guenois in Le Figaro. Guenois writes that the final departure of Benedict XVI was both a grand gesture and a powerful message. His pontificate, Guenois says, emphasized three fundamental points: the preference for substance over style, the insistence on understanding the Church as a spiritual organism created for the purpose of evangelization, and his thorough commitment to unity among the faithful.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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