Benedict XVI, First Modern Pope to Resign, Dies at 95

His message was all but drowned out, however, by statements that forced the Vatican into the unaccustomed position of damage control.

In a news conference on the plane to Brazil, he had appeared to agree with a decision by Mexican bishops to excommunicate lawmakers who favored loosened restrictions on abortion. The Vatican was aware of the impact the statement could have on Catholic Mexican politicians who either favored or did not actively oppose abortion-rights laws, and it changed the official transcript of his comments. The pope, it said, was speaking generally about church doctrine, not specifically about Mexico.

Then, in comments in Aparecida, Brazil, he said there had been no forced conversions of Indigenous people in the early years of European colonization. Indian groups and others protested, and he later issued a clarification. “It is not possible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the Indigenous population,” he said to Ash Wednesday pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

In July 2007, Benedict moved ahead in relaxing rules governing the Latin Mass — a concession to traditionalists, who had opposed the Vatican II decision allowing Mass to be said in vernacular languages. The pope was specifically reaching out to the Society of Saint Pius X, the ultraconservative group that John Paul had excommunicated in 1988.

Jewish groups were outraged because the Latin Mass included a prayer calling for the conversion of Jews. The Anti-Defamation League called it a “body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations.” Many Catholics worried that Benedict was undermining Vatican II reforms. Benedict, in a letter, reaffirmed his support for Vatican II.

Against this backdrop, in April 2008, Benedict made his first trip to the United States, home to 65 million Catholics. Part of the trip’s goal, said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio to the United States, was to dispel the idea among Americans that Benedict was “this tough, this inhuman, person.”

The pope aimed to address the sexual abuse scandal that had forced the resignation of Cardinal Bernard F. Law in Boston, the scandal’s epicenter. He went far beyond expectations, apologizing several times and meeting with victims.

Sahred From Source link World News

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