Why pope will be remembered for generations
Pope Benedict XVI, pictured in a 2005 World Youth Day Mass in Germany, will go down in history for more than his resignation.
February 11th, 2013
04:42 PM ET

Why pope will be remembered for generations

By Timothy Stanley, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."

(CNN) - Journalists have a habit of calling too many things "historic" - but on this occasion, the word is appropriate. The Roman Catholic Church is run like an elected monarchy, and popes are supposed to rule until death; no pope has stepped down since 1415.

Therefore, it almost feels like a concession to the modern world to read that Benedict XVI is retiring on grounds of ill health, as if he were a CEO rather than God's man on Earth. That's highly ironic considering that Benedict will be remembered as perhaps the most "conservative" pope since the 1950s - a leader who tried to assert theological principle over fashionable compromise.

The word "conservative" is actually misleading, and the monk who received me into the Catholic Church in 2006 - roughly a year after Benedict began his pontificate - would be appalled to read me using it. In Catholicism, there is no right or left but only orthodoxy and error. As such, Benedict would understand the more controversial stances that he took as pope not as "turning back the clock" but as asserting a living tradition that had become undervalued within the church. His success in this regard will be felt for generations to come.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

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soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 12, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 12, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  2. Reality

    As good students, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench)of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

    February 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  3. As an atheist, I truly admire this Pope

    Catholics left the church in droves under this pope, so all I can do is stand in admiration and say "Well done!"

    February 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  4. Trevor

    I'm wondering why there is even a comment section here. It's obvious the same people start the same tired anti religion/fa threads over and over with the sole ambition of causing trouble, under the guise of being independant thinkers.

    Perhaps you are in the dark about wanting to believe, and it can only be expressed by hositlity towards that part of your personailty inclined to let faith in your heart?

    Let go of the hate, for it is truly those on this board who would berate a person's faith who let hate consume them.

    February 11, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Mirror Mirror

      So you berate atheists for berating people?

      February 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Trevor, it is not possible for me to believe in that which cannot exist and which is obviously based on ancient mythology. Am I causing trouble by stating the truth to you?

      February 11, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I have searched high and low for evidence of any god, the truth of The Babble and the jesus myth, without success. The believers here are among the most adamant that they have proof – I am merely giving them the opportunity to backup their claims.

      And the crazies (all believers in general, but the likes of Chad, Bad Bob, Topher, John, etc.) need to be watched and challenged.

      And for pure fun, the crap believers belief is often quite hysterical.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Johnny Guitar

      The entertainment value of listening to what religious people actually believe just cannot be underestimated.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Chad

      @HotAirAce "I have searched high and low for evidence of any god, the truth of The Babble and the jesus myth, without success."
      @Chad "correlate the history chronicled in the bible with our history, investigate the origins of the universe, fine tuning of the universe, origin of life on earth and the fossil record.

      Then investigate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

      Where have you been looking? Reminds me of the old joke:
      A man is looking for his lost keys under a street-light. A passerby asks the man if he is sure about where he dropped them, and the man replies, “I’m actually pretty sure I dropped them in the grass over there.”

      “Then why aren’t you looking where you think you dropped them?”

      “Because the light is better here.”

      February 11, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • ..

      Oooh, HHA, you even got a silly joke in italics with your condescending lecture....lucky you!

      February 12, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Trevor

      Who's berating athiests? I simply asked why there were so many who comment on this board an ongoing basis? It appears as though they are trying to convert to their faith based on their beliefs, while belittleing the beliefs of others.

      February 12, 2013 at 6:25 am |
  5. God

    I'm here to answer any questions you have

    February 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      God, why haven't you answered my questions?

      February 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  6. Ungodly Discipline


    February 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  7. Uncouth Swain

    "Why pope..."

    Shouldn't be more proper to say "Why this Pope.."?

    February 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Joseph Ratzinger, Joey to his friends, wants a chance to be, well, just some guy. Surrounded as he is by strange celibate men maneuvering for a chance to be Christ's representative on earth, he's had no chance to enjoy that side of himself. He'll spend his last days at the Kreuzberg Monastary on the mountain above Ober Wildflicken where the best beer in the world is to be had. Be sure to have a brew with Joey and maybe he'll sing the Horst Wessel Lied for you. Be sure to join in.

    February 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  9. Ungodly Discipline

    I think you have to read between the lines here. The Pope is introduced to the internet and sends his first tweet. A few weeks later "retires" with strict instructions to KNOCK before just barging into his room.. Gosh!

    February 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Ungodly Discipline

    Well I can only speak for myself, but I will remember him for his lovely dresses and festive hats.

    February 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  11. Aladi U

    U're unredeemable guy, sadly U're gonna burn eternally in hell for hating Jesus, some day in the future i'll come with Him to ur fire prison and remind you of this day.

    February 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Akira

      *you're*, *your*

      February 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  12. Platypus Rex

    He'll be remembered for generations . . . of fruit flies.

    February 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  13. Tides go in, Tides go out..you cant explain it...B. O'Really

    He ll be remembered because he likes soup.....

    February 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Akira

      Bwa ha ha ha ha! Well done!

      February 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  14. Aladi

    This first guy that commented I bet u're a fool to utter such atrocities. Well I know U serve satan but even d devil himself wouldnt utter such horrible words against Jesus & his church. Perhaps u're higher in ranks than him in hell. Cheers up guys out there, Ratzinger isnt the owner of the Church nor you, Jesus is, leave the trouble to Him Then. Pls dont react like unbelievers. Pls pray for the new Pope, pray against the illuminati guys and the Masons. God is with us, no panic. Ciao!

    February 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Ungodly Discipline

    God has you in his book. He has a plan for each of us. He knows when you will be born and when you will die. He is therefore responsible for all death, murder and destruction for all of history including every abortion ever performed, every rape, every murder, every miscarriage, every atrocity. He is perfect. He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. So how could this not be so? It is God’s will. Praise the Lord!

    February 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bea

      With that sort of 'reasoning' there isn't even any point for us to be alive if we are nothing but God's unconscious puppets, never even knowing we dance (and do nothing else) to His tune? And if that's so, what possible value could God find in our worship? What you outline is 'God as a 10 year old boy playing Army with his humans'. Sounds really pointless.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Bea, couldn't agree more.

      February 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  16. George of the Urban Jungle

    Remembered? Give me a break. Ratzy was a creepy forgettable guy who stonewalled the abuse scandal and did nothing to bring Catholicism into the modern world.

    Can anyone but a Catholic zealot name the pope before John Paul II?

    What a joke.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      John Paul I

      February 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Akira

      Okay, even I knew that John Paul I was the Pope right before John Paul II...

      February 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • George of the Urban Jungle

      Kinda missed the "anyone but a Catholic zealot" thing, didn't you?

      February 11, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Akira

      Where the fuck did I state I was even Catholic, George? I am cognizant of history, even if you aren't.

      February 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • George of the Urban Jungle

      That was for Bill, who has said he is Catholoholic. You are just a godless person with a gift for trivia (andgodless bless you for it).

      John Paul I, best known for dying really quickly.

      February 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • End Religion

      I'm holding out for Pope Ringo George I.

      February 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      I hear Ringo George I is a Lennonist and a Groucho Marxist. Can't have that in the Vatican!

      February 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      lol... i mean, booooooo

      February 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Akira

      Apologies, George.
      Wasn't it like 30 days after?

      Yeah, we already had John Paul, gots have George Ringo, if we're keeping up with the deadies name 1st...

      February 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  17. truth be told

    Grace, mercy and peace be extended to this man. Age becomes the enemy of us all and the tolls of physical and mental infirmities await us all. It seems the servants of God often live long productive lives while others who delight in their sins like a hitchens or sagan never see old age.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @truth be told – "others who delight in their sins...never see old age."

      Linus Pauling – atheist. Died age 93
      Bertrand Russell – atheist. Died age 97

      Pope John Paul I – theist. Died age 65
      Pope Benedict XV – theist. Died age 67

      Now, what was that BS you were saying?

      February 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • truth be told

      There are exceptions to every proverb but in general the servants of God see old age way more often than the filth of the deceived.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Nice wild claim unsupported by any evidence. Sterling.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, if you're goint to go by the Bible, they *did* live 400 plus years...but that was in the Old Testament, before Christianity came to be...oops.

      February 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Answer

    Right on CNN! Getting rid of all the pope crack articles in one day.

    Let the religious nuts have their say in multiple articles to dilute their voices. It's great.

    February 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  19. what the heck did the butler know? . . .

    SEVEN straight articles on P Rat?

    February 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      i think most everyone smells blood. Well, you know, not the sheep of course.

      February 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  20. Bea

    Perhaps a less biased writer would understand that a pope (any pope) IS a CEO rather than God's man on Earth.

    February 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.