Benedict leaves mark on global politics

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Experts say 'the first truly modern pope,' through his resignation, sets a good example for leaders around the world

MANILA, Philippines – On his final day as pope, Benedict XVI vows “unconditional obedience and reverence” to his successor. Benedict is the first pope to resign in 600 years.

Paterno Esmaquel reports on the legacy he leaves after 8 years leading the Church. (Watch Rappler’s video report below; script follows.)

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI creates ripples that go beyond the Vatican.

Experts say the first papal resignation in 600 years will change global views on leadership and politics.

For a Malaysian priest who helps run a pastoral school, Benedict’s resignation is a model against totalitarian rule. He says Benedict is a role model for leaders who can’t effectively rule their people.

FR JOJO FUNG, SJ, THEOLOGIAN, EAST ASIAN PASTORAL INSTITUTE: You ought to learn the lesson that power is for service. If power is for lustful self-gain, in terms of corruption, then I think that power has lost its legitimacy, its moral legitimacy. So any power that has lost its moral legitimacy calls for, I think, resignation on the part of the leaders.

Sociologist Randy David describes Benedict as a leader who knows the modern age, someone who puts his institution over his lofty position. David calls Benedict “the first truly modern pope.”

RANDY DAVID, SOCIOLOGIST: Hindi ka superman. Even if they say that this position is for life, it’s not fair to the institution to cling to it, even after you have realized that your own intellectual and physical powers are no longer adequate. So when you’re no longer adequate to the tasks required by that position, you should say so.

Through his teachings on religion and politics, Benedict leaves another legacy.

In a speech in 2007, Benedict says the Church should stay away from partisan politics “because she would lose her independence and her moral authority, identifying herself with a single political path and with debatable partisan positions.”

Critics of the bishops in the Philippines say Benedict, who drew clear lines between Church and politics, would have disapproved of this.

Last week, the Bacolod diocese endorsed and denounced senatorial candidates based on only one criterion: if they supported a birth control measure opposed by the Catholic Church – the reproductive health law.

RANDY DAVID: Endorsing candidates would mean being identified with particular partisan interests. I would think that Benedict would feel very uncomfortable about that.

In his final speech on Wednesday, Benedict says he steps down for the good of the Catholic Church.

Vatican watchers say, in a few decades, his 8 years as Pope may only be remembered for his resignation. But with that act of ultimate humility, Benedict sets an example that will be a tough act to follow.

Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila.


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