Please note:
You are in the euro|topics archive. For current articles from the European press review, please go to

Home / Press review / Archive / Dossier

Main focus of Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pope resigns

A successor for Benedict XVI is to be found by Easter. (© dapd)

In a surprise move, Pope Benedict has announced that he is resigning. Addressing the cardinals in Rome on Monday, he cited his advanced age as the reason for his stepping down on February 28. Some commentators praise Benedict for taking a revolutionary step and showing his human side. Others see the traditionalist's resignation as a chance for reform.

Bild - Germany

Pope shows human side

The tabloid Bild, which published what must be Germany's most famous headline "We're Pope!" at the start of Benedict XVI's papacy, now writes "We're Human": "Benedict admits he's no longer up to the task. 'I have come to the certainty that my strengths, owing to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,' he said in his resignation speech. He doesn't want to muddle along until God redeems his spirit, like his predecessor John Paul II. Benedict wants to give a younger pope the chance to (finally) modernise the Catholic Church. He admits that today's world is 'subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.' And Benedict - that is probably the most important thing - will hear nothing of the 'infallibility of the Pope'. He says: 'I ask pardon for all my defects.' Yesterday's events will force the Catholic Church to tread new ground." (12/02/2013)

La Repubblica - Italy

The end of infallibility

The Pope's resignation is a revolutionary act that will change the power structures within the Church, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica predicts: "The Church is becoming more secular. Up to now, within the Church and among the faithful the Pope was regarded as Christ's representative on Earth. This means according to the First Vatican Council of 1870 that his words, as the words of the 'teacher of all Christians' are infallible in matters of faith and morals. Up to now this infallibility has prevented reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants and between Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church. ... The resignation of Benedict XVI removes this obstacle. ... The consequences of this secularisation will affect the distribution of power within the Church. Parallel to limiting the role of the Pope, the power of the Vatican Council and the synods, or the Bishops' Conferences, will grow." (12/02/2013)

Sme - Slovakia

German traditionalist makes a modern departure

Benedict XVI's decision to end his papacy is testimony to his solid German rationality, the liberal daily Sme notes approvingly: "Even if Pope Benedict has been living in Rome for some time now he remained German in his way of thinking and views. He has a strong sense of responsibility, duty and a desire for functioning institutions. … His decision is the result of rational and practical deliberations. It will enhance his reputation rather than damaging it - in the conservative and progressive sections of the Catholic Church alike, and beyond it. Although he was always considered a traditionalist, his decision almost fits in the category of modern management decisions. Time will tell whether he has set a precedent that won't be repeated so soon or whether Ratzinger the traditionalist has created a new tradition. He has mastered the art of withdrawing when his powers are no longer sufficient to go on." (12/02/2013)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

The intellectual shepherd has failed

Pope Benedict XVI has failed as the preserver of Church tradition, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant writes, hoping for a more modern successor: "As pope, Ratzinger presented himself as an intellectual, and was much more pastoral than people had expected. His messages were far less polemical than those of his predecessor. Benedict saw his task above all in interpreting the Catholic tradition, in the belief that this would lead his critics to arrive at the right insights. And that was precisely his mistake. ... It's a good thing that this Pope has now made room for another. Because despite all his mistakes, the number of Church members hasn't stopped growing - as unlikely as this might seem from a Western European perspective. That calls for new verve. The Church is in a new phase of development, flourishing above all outside Europe. It would be fitting for the next pope to be the symbol - and the face - of this development." (12/02/2013)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Benedict countered evil in Church

The departing Pope Benedict XVI receives predominantly good marks from the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph: "There have been public relations disasters, notably over the readmission of ultra-traditionalist bishops to the Church, one of whom had Nazi sympathies. But there have been unexpected successes too: not least his remarkable visit to Britain, when his gentle wisdom profoundly touched even sceptics. Always, as with his predecessor, there has been the shadow of the Church's inaction in the face of paedophile scandals. Benedict had the full measure of their wickedness; whether he did enough to prevent them in his earlier role as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith will never be clear, but his detestation of those crimes has never been in doubt." (11/02/2013)

Der Standard - Austria

Resignation a chance for reform

The resignation of Benedict XVI is the first time a pope has voluntarily stepped down in over 700 years. A unique opportunity for the Church to take a progressive line, the left-liberal daily Der Standard writes: "As courageous as this voluntary end to his papacy is, in exercising his office the current Pope lacked courage and progressiveness. He will never be remembered as a reformer and representative of the Enlightenment in the Kantian sense, but as a retro pope. ... Whoever becomes the new head of the Church: the hopes for a more open church, equality between man and woman and a church more in touch with reality will rest on his shoulders. For the Catholic Church this voluntary resignation offers the chance for priests who describe themselves as disobedient to stop moving away from 'their' church; for Christians who were thinking about leaving the Church to revise their decision; for scandals to be dealt with and publicly confronted." (12/02/2013)

» To the complete press review of Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Other content