Pope Benedict XVI is retiring from the leadership of the Catholic Church. Long ago popes took refuge in the Castel Sant’Angelo when they were under threat from enemy armies. Benedict will leave his position without having to do that, but neither will he disappear all together.
Euronews went to the Vatican to get a better understanding of the Catholic Church’s position and future after this historic event.
The time between the announcement of the pope’s abdication and the moment he steps down on February 28, see the Vatican in a situation which is without precedent in recent history.
There is a power vacuum even though the pope is still alive. Euronews discussed this with the editor-in-chief of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
euronews: “The most influential Italian newspaper – Corriere della Sera – ran this headline on February 12: “The failed attempt to change the Roman Curia”. (The Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the Catholic Church) So why did it fail? Was it because of the pope or the Roman Curia?”
Giovanni Maria Vian, Editor-in-chief l’Osservatore Romano: “This is the Corriere della Sera’s opinion, and I don’t share it, not at all. The pope, who believes very much in changing attitudes, rather than structural changes, he’s very much changed the curia over eight years. Do not forget that the papacy will have lasted eight years.”
euronews: “By making his resignation announcement, the pope did not give himself any opportunity to change his mind. In addition no cardinal asked him to reconsider the decision to leave. Is all that normal?”
Giovanni Maria Vian: “Canon law states that two conditions must be met in the event of a papal resignation: that choice must have been made freely and there must be a public announcement of this act. This decision, the pope explained in his text in Latin, is very clear: he realised he no longer had the energy to govern the “boat” of St. Peter and carry out the evangelical mission as he should today. So, for that, he leaves and passes the baton to his successor.”
euronews: “Do you think this former pope will become “invisible”?”
Gian Maria Vian: “We’re in an unprecedented situation, so it is impossible to make reasonable predictions.”
euronews: “What ‘is it that has hurt the pope the most – divisions in the Vatican, Vatileaks, the scandals of the Vatican Bank, or the paedophile priests?”
Giovanni Maria Vian: “It’s clear that the Pope has had a lot to deal with, he’s faced a number of storms – like all of his predecessors – but it’s clear that that the thing that most affected him was the scandal concerning the abuse of minors committed by members of the church.”
For another perspective on this historic moment at the Vatican we spoke with Dino Boffo, the director of Catholic TV station Sat2000.
euronews: “Mr Boffo, in 2009 you were the victim of a media attack by a Berlusconi family newspaper. After this you resigned as the director of the Catholic daily newspaper Avvenire. Do you believe today that resigning was the right choice?”
Dino Boffo: “I would say yes, at least in my case it was a winning solution, I left straight away, at the beginning, in order to find the truth. In the case of Pope Benedict XVI, it is quite different. , He resigned for reasons related to his age, he told himself that because he can no longer cope with the challenges that the church and our times impose, he therefore prefers to leave the post so someone younger.”
euronews: “Who’s going to benefit from the resignation of Pope Bénoit XVI?”
Dino Boffo: “On leaving, the pope has said the church and God’s people need new energy. A younger, stronger pope can clearly give more to the church than an 85-year-old man. I don’t mean by that that the pope was weak, on the contrary, we could see when he was reading his texts that his powers of thought were even greater. That said, governing the church is not only related to the quality of your thoughts, but rather an intellectual energy, the ability to react and take decisions quickly.”
euronews: “What do you think of the appointment as President of the IOR, the Vatican Bank, of the German Baron Ernst von Freyberg, who is a member of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta and also president of Blohm & Voss Shipyards in Hamburg which builds warships?”
Dino Boffo: “I’m waiting for more details about this appointment because I do not want to say without knowing more. I admit that this news me surprised me a bit. I don’t know if he still works there but if that is the case, if he’s still a director at the military shipyards, it is desirable that he immediately step down from that role. And this choice would not be very appropriate.”