Den peruanske författaren och mottagaren av Nobels litteraturpris 2010 Mario Vargas Llosa har skrivit en essä om påve emeritus Benedikt XVI. Den fångar in essensen hos Benedikt bättre än vad många katoliker förmår. Den presenteras i engelsk översättning på National Catholic Reporter. Här några smakprov:
He was not a charismatic man nor a man of the stage, as Karol Wojtyla, the Polish Pope. He was a man of the library and of the lecture hall, of reflection and study, surely one of the most intelligent and cultured popes that the Catholic Church has had in all her history. In an age when ideas and reasons matter much less than images and gestures, Joseph Ratzinger was already an anachronism, since he belonged to what is an especially conspicuous species on the way to extinction: the intellectual. He thought with depth and originality, based on his enormous theological, philosophical, historical, and literary knowledge, gained in the many classical and modern languages that he had mastered, among them Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
To Benedict XVI has fallen one of the most difficult periods that Christianity has ever faced in its more than two thousand year history. The secularization of society advances with great speed, especially in the West., the citadel of the Church until relatively recently. This process has been aggravated by the great scandals of pedophilia in which hundreds of Catholic priests have been enmeshed and whom part of the hierarchy protected or tried to ignore, scandals which continue to be exposed everywhere, just as the accusations of money laundering and of corruption that affect the Vatican bank.
The theft of documents committed by Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s own butler and trusted aide, brought to light the pitiless struggles, the intrigues, and the disturbing entanglements of factions and dignitaries, in the heart of the Roman Curia, at odds for reasons of power. No one can deny that Benedict XVI tried to respond to these enormous rivalries with courage and decisiveness, although without success. He failed in all his efforts, because culture and intelligence are not sufficient to navigate the labyrinth of earthly politics and to confront the machiavellianism of the special interests and of fanatical forces in the heart of the Church, another of those lessons that has come to light in these eight years of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, whom, with justice, L’Osservatore Romano described as “a shepherd among wolves.”
To judge to what degree Benedict XVI was correct or not in this matter is a task that clearly belongs to Catholics only. But we non-believers would act badly to celebrate as a victory of progress and of freedom the failure of Joseph Ratzinger on the throne of St. Peter. He not only represented the conservative tradition of the Church, but also her best legacy: that of the high and revolutionary classical and Renaissance culture that, let us not forget, the Church preserved and spread by means of her monasteries, libraries, and seminaries, that culture that impregnated the entire world with ideas, forms, and customs that ended slavery and, departing some distance from Rome, made possible the notions of equality, solidarity, human rights, liberty, democracy and decisively drove the development of thought, of art, of letters, and contributed to ending barbarism and to advancing civilization.
The decadence and intellectual mediocrity of the Church has highlighted the solitary presence of Benedict XVI; and the sensation of powerlessness that seems to have surrounded him in these last years is, without a doubt, a fundamental factor in his resignation and that disquieting glimpse of how bitter our epoch is toward all that represents spiritual life, preoccupation with ethical values, and a vocation for culture and ideas.