Experts on Benedict XVI: «He turned difficulties into dialogue»

Candles next to the portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Paderborn Cathedral, North Rhine-Westphalia. – Lino Mirgeler/dpa

Experts consulted by Europa Press have highlighted the legacy left by Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, December 31 at the age of 95, from the intellectual point of view, with an «interesting» teaching through homilies and encyclicals, as well as his vision of the Petrine ministry, his resignation and his legal battle against abuses.

In this regard, Rafael Palomino, professor of State Ecclesiastical Law at the Complutense University of Madrid, highlighted that Ratzinger was at the head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and that this was «the beginning of the end of the whole problem of abuses». «He gave the starting signal for zero tolerance,» said Palomino in statements to Europa Press.

In addition, he remarked that «he had a very great harmony» at the doctrinal level with John Paul II so that, on the one hand, it was a «continuation» of his pontificate, but, on the other hand, from the intellectual point of view, he considers that «he placed the Catholic world in a new situation», since he was a professor at a German public university who, with his theology «modernizes and presents Christianity anew». «We are called to give continuity to this thought,» he said.

He also recalled his resignation from the pontificate, «a tremendously honorable gesture» for Palomino, because although it was not the first time in history, he considers that it is something significant at a time when «nobody renounces anything».

For his part, the professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Navarra and biographer of Joseph Ratzinger Pablo Blanco has highlighted the «interesting legacy» left by Benedict XVI for the «magisterium he has left both in homilies» and in his «three encyclicals on hope and love».

In addition, he stressed that he leaves a «certain vision of the papal ministry» because, after eight years leading the Church, «he thought he did not have enough physical strength and gave the baton to the next pope, Francis, to continue in that line of reform and purification». «It is a gesture that we still have to digest, of how the ministry is a true service,» he said.

He also highlighted his «cleansing» of abuses in the Church to extirpate them «from the root», a work that, as he indicated, «John Paul II already began and that Francis continues», and for which, in his opinion, «perhaps he had to pay a high price».

Meanwhile, the jurist, professor emeritus and honorary professor of the Complutense University of Madrid Rafael Navarro-Valls has affirmed that the pontificate of Benedict XVI has «a background of paradox» because he has been an «extraordinarily affable» pope but, at the same time, «the media ecosystem, a whirlwind of news against him, made his pontificate certainly explosive».

However, he emphasized that «he had the rare quality of converting difficulties into dialogue» as in the Regensburg incident, which meant a crisis with Islam but which «accelerated the process of conversations» with the Muslims, or the Williamson case «which produced a crisis with the Jews» but which, at the same time, «accelerated the Pope’s first visit to the synagogue in Rome».


«His pontificate was exceptional. However, it was full of mines that exploded, one after another, which he faced with exceptional courage,» he summarized.

He will also go down in history, in his opinion, «for being the second pope to resign from the pontificate»; for being «the pope who most vigorously introduced the search for holiness into the very core of his message», and for initiating «a legal battle against sexual abuse in the Church».