The Russian newspapers commented sweepingly on the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign over a declining health.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily published an article of Italian political expert and journalist Giovanni Bensi, who noted that many specialists in the Vatican affairs are sooner sceptical about the reasons, which Benedict XVI gave for his resignation. Still the Pope is 85 years old, but at first sight this does not seem that he is suffering from some heavy disease, Bensi claimed.
So, there are some other reasons for the Pope’s decision. First, many say that Benedict XVI was not feeling well at the post of the Pope. He is rather a professor in his character, than a missionary, and if he is to head a see at all, let it be a university chair. Meanwhile, Benedict XVI does not have those qualities, which are considered necessary for those, who should do the managerial work, let it be a secular or clerical management. He lacked firmness in his character.
Meanwhile, the Holy See was shaken with different scandals. Benedict XVI did much to punish severely the clergymen found guilty in paedophilia, but did not settle the problem completely. For instance, several financial scandals were linked with the Vatican Bank (the Institute on Religious Affairs). The latest, but no less important scandal sparked up over Benedict’s butler Paolo Gabriele, who abused the trust of the Pope and stole the private letters and other classified documents from the secretary of the Pope, and then sold them to the Italian journalist, who wrote a revealing book “His Holiness”.
Now the main intrigue consists in the fact who will be Benedict’s successor and whether this person will be able to carry out the reforms, which many Catholics find necessary, the Kommersant daily reported. According to the sources of the newspaper, the cardinals from Honduras, Canada, Italy, Ghana and Nigeria are among the forerunners.
Many Catholics voiced hope in the Internet on Monday that now the Holy See will be headed by a younger and less conservative clergyman. Benedict XVI did not believe that a reform of the Roman Catholic Church is needed. In 2011 several hundreds of influential Catholic politicians, clergymen and theologians from his native Germany urged Vatican to cancel a vow of chastity, permit the ordination of women and grant the lay people with the right to elect the heads of the church communities. These possible measures were aimed to solve an acute problem of the lack of staff in the Roman Catholic Church and avert repeated scandals with the paedophilic clergymen. However, the Pope did not support this initiative.
Now the main question who will be a new Pope? According to an informed Kommersant source in Vatican, this time contrary to 2005, when Benedict XVI was elected, the question of age and nationality of a future Pope will not be so sharp. “As for his age, the Pope has just created the precedence. If the Pope can resign, feeling some illness or a disease, it is not so important how old a potential candidate will be. First of all, his views will be taken into account,” the source explained. “As for his nationality, after two non-Italian Popes in succession that ruled for 35 years, today someone will hardly insist on the observance of the tradition to elect Italian Popes,” he said.
The Holy See named three cardinals as the main candidates for papacy, namely Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras) Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 70, former Archbishop of Quebec (the French-speaking province of Canada) Marc Ouellet, 68, and Archbishop of Milan and a famous theologian Angelo Scola, 71.
The relations between Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church will mainly depend from who will be elected as a new Pope. “Under Benedict XVI the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church were developing and reached a new level. As compared with his predecessor Benedict XVI pursued a wiser policy towards the Russian Orthodox Church,” secretary of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate for Inter-Christian Relations Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko told the Kommersant daily. “The policy of the Roman Catholic Church is the system of checks and balances, therefore, there are no reasons to believe that some drastic changes will take place in the near future. We hope that under Benedict’s successor the positive dynamics will be retained in Orthodox-Catholic relations,” he underlined.