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Benedict XVI, the theologian pope who revolutionized the Catholic Church with his resignation

On February 28, 2013, amid shouts of ‘Long live the Pope’ and applause, after 2,872 days, two hours and 10 minutes, intense to the last, the Pontificate of Benedict XVI came to an end after announcing his resignation a few weeks earlier due to lack of strength. and for the good of the Church. He then became the first Pope to resign in 700 years. “I do not abandon the cross”, he specified in his last hearing, although days before he had indicated that he would remain “hidden from the world”. Dead at 95, he has finally spent more time as an emeritus than as a serving pontiff.

Joseph Ratzinger (1927, Marktl, Germany) was ordained a priest in 1951 and in 1977 he was named Archbishop of Munich and created a cardinal by Paul VI. On April 19, 2005 at 5:50 p.m. he was elected Pope. At that moment, white smoke began to rise from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and a few minutes later, the pealing of bells began in Rome. He had been elected the successor of John Paul II in the fourth scrutiny, on the second day of the Conclave. About an hour later, Chilean Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez pronounced the expected words “Habemus Papam” and Joseph Ratzinger went out onto the balcony.

As indicated in his last general audience in which he was surrounded by some 150,000 faithful and nearly 70 cardinals, the boat of Saint Peter, that is, the Church, spent during his eight years of Pontificate for days of light in which the waters were calm, such as the World Youth Days in Cologne and Madrid, and others in which the boat had to cross rough waters, such as the ‘Vatileaks’ case or the fight against sexual abuse.

Specifically, the scandal of the leaking of confidential documents, which ended with the granting of grace by Benedict XVI to his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was the last trip through troubled waters in which the Pontiff had to navigate, a case that It began when private documents of the Pope were published and for which the Vatican opened a criminal investigation on March 16, 2012.

The Vatican police arrested the ex-butler of the Pope, Paolo Gabriele, who was subjected to a trial by the Vatican court in which he was found guilty of the crime of aggravated robbery and which ended with his imprisonment in a cell of the gendarmerie barracks vatican.

GUARDIAN OF THE FAITH AND ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ AGAINST ABUSE
Even before being elected Pope, Ratzinger had to assume a difficult role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by John Paul II, in the fight against cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy that were then beginning to emerge in countries like Ireland or the US.

During his pontificate, Benedict XVI met with the victims of abuse to whom he asked for forgiveness and also in May 2011 sent, through the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, a circular letter with the how to act in these cases to all the Episcopal Conferences of the world, which in turn had to draw up guidelines for action.

In this document, the bishops were told of the need to “cooperate” with the civil authorities and to “refer to the authorities the crimes” of sexual abuse committed by clergy, religious or lay personnel. It also indicated that they must be “willing to listen to the victims and their families” and that the bishop has the obligation to refer the case to the Vatican Congregation.

However, in 2022 he was accused of covering up a sexual abuse case when he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising between 1977 and 1982 and was due to testify in a trial to defend himself against these accusations.

WYD AND TRIPS TO MEXICO, CUBA AND LEBANON
In its eight years of Pontificate, the boat of Saint Peter, led by Benedict XVI, also found, as the Pope emeritus said in his last audience, days of “abundant fishing” among which can be counted the World Youth Days . In fact, the first of his 24 trips outside of Italy was the one he made to his homeland, Germany, on the occasion of WYD in Cologne in 2005.

However, the one that remains closest in everyone’s memory is the WYD that was held in August 2011 in Madrid, in which nearly two million young people participated. On that occasion, Benedict XVI launched messages that are still current, such as the one he sent to young people looking for a decent job or the one of responsibility in the face of the economic crisis. In addition, he resisted the strong rain and the wind together with the young people in the Vigil of Four Winds, where he spontaneously launched: ‘You are stronger than the rain!’.

YOUR MARK IN SPAIN
Spain was precisely the destination of two more of his visits, one to Valencia in 2006, on the occasion of the V World Meeting of Families, a trip that was overshadowed by the fatal Metrovalencia accident, in which 43 people died, which was reason for Benedict XVI to alter his schedule to pray a response for the victims in the damaged station and meet their relatives. In addition, in 2010, he visited Santiago de Compostela where he officiated a Holy Mass on the occasion of the Compostela Holy Year and Barcelona, where he presided over another Eucharist for the dedication of the Holy Family.

One of his last apostolic trips was the one he made to Mexico and Cuba from March 23 to 29, 2012, countries where he left messages in favor of change and freedom, against the embargo in Cuba and against drug trafficking and violence. in Mexico. Likewise, on his last trip, bound for Lebanon, on the occasion of the signing and publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East, he took the opportunity to call for an end to the export of arms to Syria and to call for peace. in the Middle East.

Although if something marked his passage through the Petrine ministry, in addition to the novelty of his resignation, it was his encyclicals. When the experts thought that the entire Second Vatican Council was squeezed into the texts of John Paul II, Benedict XVI surprised in 2005 with ‘Deus Caritas est’, in which he delves into the love of God; in 2007, with ‘Spe salvi’, on the idea of hope in eternal life and in 2009 with ‘Caritas in Veritate’, in which he addresses the issues of the development of peoples and social inequalities within the framework of the principle of the economic crisis. Thus, although from cardinal he became Pope and from Pope to Roman Pontiff Emeritus, he never ceased to be a great theologian.

HE ENDED LIMBO AND THE ANIMALS OF BETHLEHEM
In addition to these texts, the approval in January 2007 of the document of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission (CTI) in which the possibility of a limbo after death is ruled out, which means that children who die without baptism go directly to heaven.

In addition, in the last book of his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, entitled ‘The childhood of Jesus’, he assured that there were no animals next to the manger, unlike what is reflected in traditional Christian iconography, in which Mary and Joseph, along with Baby Jesus, surrounded by an ox and a mule in the manger.

Benedict XVI was also involved in a controversy for his speech at the University of Regensburg in 2006 in which he condemned the “irrationality” of the “dissemination of the faith through violence” as occurs in the ‘Jihad’ (holy war) of the Islam. As he later explained, he was quoting a medieval text from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor and not expressing his personal opinion, lamenting the reactions of some countries. In addition, in 2010 he justified the use of condoms on “certain occasions” to avoid AIDS. The now pope emeritus opened a Twitter account in December 2012.

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