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President and CEO of Ignatius Press Offers Reflection on the Pope's Willingness to Lay Down His Authority

"He knows to serve God is to serve his people"

Contact: Lisa Wheeler, 770-591-0045

ATLANTA, Feb 28, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Mark Brumley, the President and CEO of Ignatius Press, which publishes Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI's volume of books in English, had this reflection today as we watched the Holy Father abdicate his title and office as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church:

    Pope Benedict XVI has again defied the expectations of the world. He has resigned the papal office -- the first pope to do so in some six hundred years. Benedict XVI never wanted to be pope to begin with. He took up the mission out of fidelity to God's will and to serve the Church. Now, as he discerns that his abilities to faithfully carry out the mission are diminishing, he once again surrenders to the will of God in order to serve the good of the Church. Thanks be to God for all the good Pope Benedict XVI has done.

    While the great gifts of Pope Benedict XVI make it tempting for the faithful to wish he would continue in office, they should respect his prayerful discernment of God's will. The Holy Father's decision in this matter bears the marks of sanctity and wisdom. Although some people may view the papacy as the pinnacle of power, he regards it as a profound service. In this, he follows the pattern of his Master, who came not to be served but to serve. Pope Benedict willingly lays down his authority because he knows that the reason he possessed authority to begin with -- to serve God by serving his People.

    Although Pope Benedict's pontificate has been relatively short, he has accomplished a great deal amidst profound challenges, both within the Church and in the world. By stressing the "hermeneutic of reform" in contrast to the "hermeneutic of rupture," he has shown the way forward in clarifying the relationship between the Second Vatican Council and the Church's Tradition. He has presented clearly, forcefully, thoughtfully, and winsomely "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), and he has strengthened the Church's efforts to evangelize the world. He has sought to deepen the renewal of the Church's worship and sacramental life by fostering a recovery of "the spirit of the liturgy." He has appointed and elevated men to the episcopate who perceive the importance of an authentic understanding of the Second Vatican Council, in light of the Church's Tradition and the "joy and hope, the grief and anguish" of our world (cf. Gaudium et Spes, no. 1).

    As the Church continues the mission of Christ in the twenty-first century, she will have ample opportunity to draw on the rich treasures Benedict has left to her. All the faithful should pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and for his successor. Despite the grave challenges we face, we know that Christ is with the Church (Mt 28:20) and the gates of hell will not prevail (Mt 16:18).