Benedict – last words, last decisions

Pope Benedict’s last words and gestures are worth noting.

Take four of his last decisions, for example.

1)     Nine months after the sacking of the President of the scandal-ridden Vatican bank, he appoints a new President: a lay man and a non-Italian.

2)     He appoints a man of promise to a diplomatic post in a Latin American country, freeing him from the pecking-order syndrome of the Vatican Curia.

3)     He changes the rules for the running of the Conclave, reducing the chances of external or internal pressure on the voting Cardinals, and ensuring that something closer to a consensus can be achieved.

4)     He accepts the resignation of a Cardinal Archbishop from his post, and without hesitation accepts his offer not to attend the conclave.

These decisions range from the surprising to the dramatic. All are worth “reading” carefully.

Worth reading carefully, too, are his last three speeches.

In his last public audience on Wednesday it seemed that Joseph Ratzinger the simple believer was speaking heart-to-heart to the people. He was applauded at length when he spoke of the Church as “not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters ….”

The following day, in his speech to the Cardinals, he seemed to want to turn their attention to the events of the previous day. Once again, he reminded them that “the Church is not an institution devised and built at a desk, but a living reality.”

In his final appearance on the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo he had the look of someone deeply at peace.  His last public gesture was a master of understatement. With a smile and a friendly wave, he simply wished the people “Buona notte – goodnight” and disappeared into silence.


Fr Craig Larkin, a New Zealand priest living in Rome.

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News category: Analysis and Comment, Pope.

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