A man of contradictions, Benedict leaves us two very different legacies / NBC News THINK

The pope emeritus took the first strong steps to stop clergy sex abuse, but ultimately prioritized the institution of the church.


“A man of contradictions. A pope of colliding centuries. It’s as if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who is being laid to rest Thursday (Jan. 5) in Vatican City, has two legacies instead of one. 

“The theologian Joseph Ratzinger was a significant architect of the theology that informed the doctrines of the Second Vatican Council, a reform effort in the 1960s that brought fresh air to the church by encouraging outreach to other religions, the use of local languages instead of Latin at Mass, support for religious freedom and much more.

“Despite this promise and the potential for transparency, Benedict continued the church’s centuries-old preference for handling abuse cases privately.

“Ratzinger was deemed one of the influential progressives at the council, but as a cardinal starting in 1977 and then as pope from 2005 to 2013, he instead sought to filter the fresh air from the windows opened by the council. Yet that fresh air — including the recognition that the church is the People of God rather than the hierarchical structure alone — is what opened the path for ordinary lay Catholics to speak up and participate fully in our faith in this century.”

By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, on NBC News THINK — Read more …