Why Evangelical Leaders Love Pope Benedict XVI (And His Resignation)
Image: David Jones / AP
Why Evangelical Leaders Love Pope Benedict XVI (And His Resignation)

Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation Monday after eight years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, will leave a legacy of strong theology, cooperation with evangelicals and a hardline conservative stance on social issues, evangelical leaders and observers say.

As pope, the German Joseph Ratzinger championed a "culture of life" on issues such as abortion, encouraged the "new evangelism" of the church, and issued the first papal tweet. Benedict, 85, cited age and deteriorating strength as reasons for his resignation.

Benedict stepped into a difficult role as an intellectual and administrator following John Paul II, the first "celebrity pope," said Carl Trueman, professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary.

"He was never going to be comfortable with the kind of media exposure his predecessor courted and relished," Trueman said. "Add to that the various pressing problems facing the Roman Catholic Church — the priest abuse scandal, the challenges of feminism, Islam, rising secularism — and he took the reins at a very trying time."

In some ways, Benedict's resignation, the first in nearly 600 years, sends the most important message of his papacy, said Chris Castaldo, a director at the Billy Graham Center and author of Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic. Vatican I emphasized the divine character of the papal office and made it seem distant from average people. This resignation highlights the leader's humanity, Castaldo said.

"He's expressing vulnerability in such a way that others will be able to identify with," he said. "There's a temptation for all of us — Protestants, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueHow God Keeps it Together
How God Keeps it Together Subscriber Access Only
When our life unravels, He holds the threads.
Current Issue
Reply All Subscriber Access Only
Responses to our May issue via letters, tweets, and Facebook posts.
RecommendedIn ‘The Keepers,’ Harrowing Crimes Awaken Our Longing for Justice
In ‘The Keepers,’ Harrowing Crimes Awaken Our Longing for Justice
Netflix's troubling true-crime docuseries wrestles with what happens when murder and abuse go unpunished.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Why Evangelical Leaders Love Pope Benedict XVI ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.