Our Opinion: Personification of leadership

When the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people worldwide resigns, the religious, historic and philosophical impact is profound.

Pope Benedict XIV announced Monday he will resign the papacy of the Catholic Church, effective Feb. 28.

With regard to the spiritual component, we defer to Bishop John R. Gaydos who — on behalf of the Diocese of Jefferson City — offered “fervent thanks to God” for the pope’s nearly eight-year tenure.

Gaydos added Pope Benedict “taught clearly and wisely, he has ruled gently and firmly, he has prayed with and for us and the whole world. I am grateful that our Holy Father has come to this prayerful decision, and ask all of our local church and all people of good will to join together in praying to God for the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit during this time of transition for the Catholic Church throughout the world.”

Pope Benedict’s resignation itself is historic; he becomes the first pope to resign, rather than die in office, since 1415, when Pope Gregory XII stepped down.

The history and traditions of the Catholic church have been an integral component of his papacy.

Father Don Merz, who chairs the liturgical commission for the local diocese, characterized Pope Benedict as “a mixture of old and new. He wanted to be current without forgetting 2,000 years of tradition.”

In both word and deed, the pope respected tradition while embracing the modern.

He worked to revive Christianity in an increasingly secular Western world while becoming the first pope to communicate through the social media website Twitter.

He attempted to restore Catholic traditions while embracing alternate forms of energy by installing solar panels at the Vatican.

He was an academic, a teacher and a theologian.

He also was a realist who persevered amid troubles and adversity. “When the danger is great,” he once said, “one must not run away.”

Pope Benedict XIV personified true leadership; he led by example.

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