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Main focus of Thursday, February 28, 2013

Farewell to Benedict XVI

More than 100,000 people cheered on the Pope in St. Peter's Square. (© dapd)

Pope Benedict XVI bid farewell to believers in his last general audience on Wednesday before stepping down today. Some commentators observe that Benedict has left many problems unsolved. Others are impressed by the energy he has put into restoring the credibility of the Church in his last days in office.

Corriere della Sera - Italy

A difficult legacy in a world without faith

In his last general audience attended by more than 100,000 people, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed his belief in the power of the Church. But this unshakeable faith at the same time poses a major dilemma for Catholicism, church historian Alberto Melloni writes in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "Ratzinger wanted to be the 'Pope of the learned'. He distanced himself from Wojtylas' brand of 'charismatic church leadership'. But in the end he shared the latter's fundamental approach of breaking with the guiding principle of Paul VI [the pope of the Second Vatican Council]: that of mediation and dialogue. He battled for a strong Church in the belief that the power of faith is what defines the value of the Church for the people. ... Under the leadership of a theologian Pope, of all people, the great theological spokesmen were dropped in the hope of turning the Church into the ethical prosthesis of a West without a gospel [i.e. without faith]. ... But in the end the West showed the Church its limits, pointing to its ethical deficit. Finding a way out of this impasse is the legacy that Benedict XVI now leaves to his successor." (28/02/2013)

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Many challenges for new pope to tackle

During both Pope Benedict XVI's papacy and that of his predecessor the Church has failed to react to new challenges, which leaves the next pope facing some major tasks, the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes comments: "The next pope will have to come back to the problems that his predecessors - be it out of weakness or deliberately - have left unsolved. Since the Second Vatican Council [1962 to 1965] new problems have arisen. The clash of cultures, disappointment with developments in the Third World, the rise of new superpowers, environmental problems and personnel scandals within the Church. Then there's the traditional areas of conflict such as birth control and celibacy. The latter are not so important, but resolving them would furnish a new course with a characteristic colour. One thing is for sure: it's time for a new Vatican Council. Both believers and atheists sense very strongly that changes are needed." (28/02/2013)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Successor must redefine papal office

Neither Benedict VXI nor his predecessor have provided adequate answers to the question of the future of the Church or the ecumenical movement in the eyes of the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "The latter question was addressed by Pope John Paul II as early as 1995. ... But there was hardly an echo in the Reformation Churches, and the response of the Orthodox church was modest, to say the least. However even more modest was the response in the Catholic Church to the Pope's call to reflect on the role of the Bishop of Rome. ... The cult of the person has meanwhile taken on almost blasphemous proportions - to the point where Pope Benedict also wants to be addressed as 'Your Holiness' even after he has retired. ... Both popes, each in his own way, only exacerbated the crisis of authority in the Church, as well as the crisis of the Church's authority in the world. ... Now it will fall on the successor to spell out the 'how' and the 'why' of the papacy." (28/02/2013)

El País - Spain

An energetic final spurt for the Pope

During his last days in office the Pope has worked even harder than usual, the left-liberal daily El País notes: "Since announcing his resignation on February 11, Benedict XVI has made decisions of great import. Some are related to finances, while others deal with the abuse scandals. Joseph Ratzinger said this week that prayer is not a turning away from the world, but a turning towards action. This is what he has done. In just 17 days he has shown - almost as if it were the added time period in a game - that he is determined to point the way for his successor and at the same time help him with the two major problems gnawing at the credibility of the institution. In these two and a half weeks the pope dismissed two close collaborators of the powerful Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and filled the position of director of the Vatican Bank which had been vacant for almost two years. He warned against corruption and also forced the resignation of the Scottish cardinal and member of the conclave Keith O'Brien." (28/02/2013)

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