Quotes and news
An Orthodox interpretation
In a February 17 Russian television interview on Pope Benedict’s decision to step down from the papacy, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev said: “He [Pope Benedict] saw [at the end of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate] the process of ageing and dying, but not in the way the mass media look at it.
“He saw it with the eyes of a Church man, and understood that actually for some time the Church was left without real governance under a living Pope, or the governance was entrusted to other people. I believe as a witness to this he did not want to repeat this experience in his own life.”
Biographer Seewald on Pope’s health
Pope Benedict’s biographer Peter Seewald said the Pope was “exhausted and disheartened” well before he announced his resignation.
In an article, Farewell to My Pope, in Germany’s Focus weekly, Seewald said he had held several Vatican meetings with the 85-year-old pontiff over the six months while preparing a new biography. He added he had “never seen Benedict XVI so drained of energy” and “deeply disheartened” as when he met him last summer.
Asked what could still be expected of his pontificate, according to Seewald, the Pope answered: “From me – not much now. I’m an old man and I’ve lost my strength. I think I’ve done enough.”
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said there is nothing to fear about the “last Pope” scenario as prophesied by St Malachy following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
“The Church has been here for the past 2,000 years and we’re [still] here and we’re increasing,” Mgr Palma said.
St Malachy, the Archbishop of Armagh, had predicted that there would be 112 popes from his time till the end of the world. Since Benedict was the 111th pope then the next Pope will supposedly take us to the Last Judgement.
Mgr Palma said Benedict XVI will be missed but the Church will endure and continue its mission.
Pope as pensioner
While a person is a Pope, the Church takes care of all his material needs. This means the Pope has neither income nor personal expenses. The situation changes when he retires. At that moment he qualifies for the pension allowed to all retired bishops. The pension is €2,500 monthly.
Stronger welfare state weakens the family
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said: “Particularly during times of high unemployment, the actions of government as they affect families must be examined carefully.
“The welfare state is characterised by family assistance programmes principally intended to address situations where the family is broken, unstable or lacking in internal resources. In these cases the State attempts, in effect, to be a substitute for the family, or at least for some missing element of the family.
“But by substituting itself for the family, the welfare state produces a kind of vicious circle where instead of strengthening family relationships, it weakens them even further.
“It thus becomes clear how important it is for government programmes not only to promote family ‘mainstreaming’ but more importantly for the government to have a correct understanding of the family when formulating public policy and to respect subsidiarity, which should be a guiding principle in any governmental action.”
(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)