February 11, 2013

Pope's mission to revive faith clouded by scandal

Nicole Winfield / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 3)

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Pope Benedict XVI, right, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, hug each other on Monday after the pontiff announced during the meeting of Vatican cardinals that he would resign on Feb. 28.

AP / L'Osservatore Romano

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And in one of his most popular acts, he beatified his predecessor in record time, drawing 1.5 million people to Rome in 2011 to witness John Paul move a step closer to sainthood.

Benedict favored Masses heavy in Latin and the brocaded silk vestments of his predecessors. His fondness for Gregorian chant and Mozart — he was an accomplished classical pianist — found its way into papal Masses and concerts performed in his honor, some of the only times the workaholic Benedict was seen relaxing and enjoying himself.

He had a weakness for orange Fanta as well as his beloved library; when he was elected pope, he had his entire study moved — as is — from his apartment just outside the Vatican walls into the Apostolic Palace.

"In them are all my advisers," he said of his books in the 2010 book-length interview "Light of the World." ''I know every nook and cranny, and everything has its history."

Years after he had left, colleagues from his days at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke wistfully, even nostalgically of his tenure setting the course of Catholic doctrine and discipline and presiding over the creation of the monumental "Catechism of the Catholic Church" — a synthesis of key Catholic teaching.

His presentations at monthly department meetings were "magisterial," they said, worthy of the church's permanent teachings. They said he fostered a "family" inside the hallowed yellow halls of the Holy Office, once known as the Inquisition.

His real family consisted of his brother Georg, also a priest and a frequent summer visitor to Castel Gandolfo. His sister died years previous.

His "papal family" consisted of Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, his longtime private secretary who was always by his side, another secretary and four consecrated women who tended to the papal apartment.

They shared meals, celebrated daily Mass together and at the end of the day watched DVDs, especially of Benedict's favorite show "Don Camillo and Peppone," a black and white comedy from the 1950s about the pastor of a small Italian town and its Communist mayor.

Benedict was born April 16, 1927 in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

In his memoirs, Benedict dealt what could have been a source of controversy had it been kept secret — that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper. He deserted the German army in April 1945, the waning days of the war.

He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.

Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul's death in 2005, he was elected pope by a conclave of cardinals.

If there were any doubts about Benedict's priority to reinvigorate Christianity in Europe, his choice of a papal name was as good as any indication.

Benedict told cardinals soon after he was elected that he hoped to be a pope of peace, like Pope Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I. But the first Benedict — St. Benedict of Norcia — was also an inspiration.

The 5th and 6th century monk is a patron saint of Europe and inspired the creation of the Benedictine order, the main guardian of learning and literature in Western Europe during the dark centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.

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