February 12, 2013

Pope fell short of mark he set for himself

Goals such as unifying the church and forging stronger ties with other religions proved elusive.

By RACHEL ZOLL The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Pope Benedict XVI
click image to enlarge

Pope Benedict XVI places a note in the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2009.

The Associated Press

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Pope John Paul II, left, is shown with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, who would go on to be elected to succeed John Paul II on April 19, 2005, as Benedict XVI.

1979 Associated Press File Photo

In another dramatic move, he ordered a full-scale reform of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative religious order whose founder for years sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children. However, Benedict didn't discipline church leaders who kept guilty priests in ministry or hid claims from parents and police.

"His method was to translate crimes into sins, and sins can be forgiven, sins of the cardinals and bishops," said author Jason Berry, who has written extensively on the crisis, including the book "Render Unto Rome."

CATHOLIC-JEWISH RELATIONS

Benedict's first official act as pope was a letter to Rome's Jewish community.

In his 2011 book, "Jesus of Nazareth," he made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Christ, explaining biblically and theologically why there was no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death.

However, he also angered Jews on a number of fronts. Jewish leaders harshly criticized Benedict when he removed the excommunication of a traditionalist British bishop who had denied the Holocaust. Jews were also incensed at Benedict's constant promotion toward sainthood of Pope Pius XII, the World War II-era pope accused by some of having failed to sufficiently denounce the Holocaust.

"There were bumps in the road during this papacy," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "But he listened to our concerns and tried to address them."

 

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