Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Perceptive Commentary: On the resignation—Bernardo Cervellera, John O'Sullivan, Michael Kelly

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 14, 2013

Among the scores of editorial commentaries that have appeared since Pope Benedict announced his plans to resign, a handful have been particular insightful. Among the best:

  • ”Benedict XVI’s decision for the Church's mission and the truth of the world.” Father Bernardo Cervellera of the AsiaNews service sees the Pope’s bold decision as a product of great faith. Having prayed intensely over the decision, the Holy Father has concluded that this is God’s will, and nothing else matters. The Pope’s resignation, then, illustrated in one dramatic action the attitude that he would recommend to the faithful at his public audience on Ash Wednesday. Father Cervellera writes:
    In taking this step, he has become a master for all Christians, priests, bishops, cardinals, who consider their active role in certain tasks, duties and organizations "essential". With his choice of life Pope Benedict XVI is telling us that the effectiveness of our existence lies in our placing ourseleves completely in Christ's hands, the true guarantee of all fruitfulness.
  • ”Benedict’s reformation.” John O’Sullivan (who was my boss many years ago) writes in The Spectator that the Pope’s decision to resign shows that he has placed the evangelical demands of the Church ahead of the political pressures of the papacy. O’Sullivan suggests that “his resignation is the latest (perhaps the final) stage in the papacy’s two-century shedding of temporal power and its trappings of spiritual monarchy.”
  • ”Confounding critics to the end.” Michael Kelly of the Irish Catholic believes that Pope Benedict has become exhausted after years of fighting a largely successful battle against heavy odds, and with precious little help from his staff. Reflecting on the clumsiness and inertia displayed by the Roman Curia during this pontificate, Kelly concludes: “Benedict has been spectacularly badly served by those who should have been aiding him in the governance of the Church.”

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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  • Posted by: cieslajohn7542 - May. 23, 2018 9:09 AM ET USA

    Pope Francis gets great credit for admitting that his initial assessment of abuse victims' claims was wrong and for calling all the Chilean bishops to Rome for a serious discussion. Whether all the Chilean bishops offered to resign because Francis forced them to, or because they came to that conclusion themselves, is irrelevant. Francis is holding bishops accountable...and that is what we need. I think that to speculate on ulterior motives for Francis' actions is unwarranted right now.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - May. 23, 2018 12:09 AM ET USA

    Your question "whatever happened to collegial and synodal style of leadership" reminds me of the old saying "do as I say, not as I do."

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - May. 22, 2018 8:53 AM ET USA

    The Queen of Hearts is reported to have said, "Off with his head." While that may be extreme it does express a decisive action. Can this Pope be decisive? My wish is that all these bishops be replaced the guilty along with any innocent for who could be innocent at that level. This should be an opportunity world wide to clean house. Will it be used? Stay tuned.

  • Posted by: feedback - May. 22, 2018 1:45 AM ET USA

    These are perfectly legitimate and important questions. Hopefully, this doesn't turn out to be a case of attempted remedy being worse than the disease.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2013 9:29 PM ET USA

    "Confounding critics to the end," by Michael Kelly of the Irish Catholic makes more sense than almost any other explanation of the Pope's decision. At least it does to me. Let us hope that whomever succeeds Pope BXVI will listen to the Holy Spirit. This is God's Church.