Papal retirement, celibacy, annulment, etc.

Benedict In Retirement

After the shock of the pope’s surprise resignation I was initially inclined, like Joseph A. Komonchak (“Benedict’s Act of Humility,” March 8) and Peter Steinfels (“Shock Therapy,” March 8), to see it as an act of humility in the service of the church, contributing, intentionally or not, to a much-needed demystification of the papacy. It is not difficult, however, to imagine very different consequences from those the pope himself apparently envisions. Without questioning Benedict’s sincerity in resolving to abjure a public role in the future life of the church, I would be less apprehensive if he had chosen to live out his years in a quiet Bavarian monastery rather than in the apartment apparently being prepared for him in the heart of the Vatican. Even at this early stage it is impossible not to envision him being importuned to make his views known on the various conflicts sure to arise. It will take, I should think, the resolve of a saint for a person of his obvious abilities and deep concern for the future of the church to remain impervious to such pressures.

Joseph L. Walsh

Margate, N.J.


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