ERR religious affairs editor: Pope Benedict XVI left significant legacy

Meelis Süld.
Meelis Süld. Source: Personal collection.

The late Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, put in place several important processes during his time as pontiff, ERR's religious editor, and ordained Lutheran minister, Meelis Süld says.

"Let's go from the more serious side - all the sexual abuse allegations which hit the Catholic Church. During his time as pope, a lot of these were actually dealt with, seriously and thoroughly. He himself, as pope, had also stated that mistakes had been made through history, and we know that many of these have been concluded."

"His contribution has been important in this sense," Süld went on, and also brought out Benedict XVI's important role in bringing transparency to the Vatican's financial affairs.

"As pope, he was first and foremost a theologian and a follower of a conservative line; he has been respected in more conservative circles, perhaps even more than the current pontiff," Süld went on.

Süld also noted some interesting and unusual decisions during Benedict's pontificate.

"For instance, he took on a whole bunch of conservative Anglican priests, into the bosom of the Catholic Church."

"These Anglicans themselves wanted that, and their issue was specifically the ordination of women in the Church of England (Süld ministers at an Estonian Lutheran Church close to the Tower of London – ed.). Yet they were still allowed to remain married – as is common knowledge, Roman Catholic priests may not marry," Süld went on, adding this remained the status quo in spite of the onboarding of the former Anglican clergymen.

"It should also be noted that he retained an emeritus position [after stepping down as pope], which means that he had sufficient backbone and the knowledge that, with his health and age as it was, it became no longer possible for him to undertake so many foreign trips, and he had the sense of responsibility to retire from that."

Pope Benedict XVI passed away on the last day of 2022, at the age of 95. A native of Bavaria, his papacy ran from April 2005, after he was elected following the passing of Pope John Paul II, to February 2013, when he stepped down. He was a noted theologian and philosopher.

One of the noted former Anglican leaders to have joined the Catholic Church, albeit during Pope Francis pontificate, is Gavin Ashenden, former Chaplain to the Queen. Ashenden had expressed opposition to what he saw as a creeping liberalism in the Church of England.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov, Kai Vare

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