Thank you, Benedicto

A few years after the announcement of Benedict XVI's resignation, Valentina Alazraki, one of the reference persons in Vatican information, told us how she received the announcement and how she evaluates it.

March 1, 2018-Reading time: 2 minutes
birthday Benedict XVI

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On February 11, 2013, I was in the Vatican Press Room, waiting to know the date of the canonization of Mother Maria Lupita Garcia Zavala, which Pope Benedict was to announce during a Consistory, when I realized that something strange was happening. Before stunned cardinals, the Pope was announcing his resignation. Minutes later I found myself transmitting live that news, which undoubtedly would mark a before and after in the life of the Church and the papacy.

Thinking back to that day, I realize that my first reaction was not one of disbelief. I was surprised by the timing of the announcement, but not by its content, because Benedict XVI himself, in the book The light of the world had prepared us for this outcome.

My reaction was a lack of understanding of the gesture. I had lived through the 26 and a half years of John Paul II's pontificate, witnessed his living Stations of the Cross in his final years, his decision in 2000 to seek the opinion of a council of cardinals on a possible resignation, their negative opinion after having studied the situation and, finally, his own decision to follow the example of Jesus and, as he used to say, of "not getting off the cross". "God has put me here." -The Polish pope once told us, "God will take me away when He decides.".

This testimony of faith and fortitude, the fruit of a profound mysticism, prevented me from appreciating, at first, the greatness and humility of Benedict XVI's gesture. "He is much better than John Paul II was at his age, why is he abandoning ship?", I asked myself, without finding an answer. Five years down the road, with the greatest possible humility, I confess that I was wrong. These two great Popes both made their decision out of love for the Church. They were both valuable and courageous decisions.

Benedict XVI had lived through the last years of John Paul II's life, in which his predecessor had not been able to govern as he had done before his health declined. When he realized that his physical and spiritual strength was leaving him, he understood that the Church needed a strong man at the helm and after long reflection, much prayer and an extraordinary spirit of service, he made the decision to step down and make way for the man the Church and the world needed. With his distance from the public sphere, his total fidelity to Pope Francis, his silence and discretion gave us doubters the tools not only to understand, but also to be grateful for his gesture. 

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