The legacy of Benedict XVI will grow out of his episcopal appointments and the resignations he accepted with all speed. From his incredibly deep but eminently accessible encyclicals that helped us understand that God is love, and He saves us in hope. In the great liturgical revolution that will take place quietly and unstoppably because of Summorum Pontificum and Sacramentum Caritatis. From his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy and the impact it has had on Biblical scholarship. From his tireless efforts at reconciliation with the SSPX, his invitation to Anglicans to come home in Anglicanorum Coetibus, and his dialogue with Islam. From his reorganizing of the curia in some very intriguing and telling ways.
Many things he has done in his seemingly short eight years would be counted a lifetime of achievement for most mortals. Joseph Ratzinger is not most mortals. He has been a force of nature in the papacy, which is good because he followed another force of nature. No one but God knows who will face the daunting task of following Blessed John Paul II (who may well be a doctor of the Church one day) and Benedict XVI (who may well be a doctor of the Church one day), but that man will have both enormous shoes to fill, and a much better led, more enthused, and, I believe, more unified global Church to lead.
But take a moment and look back at how it all started:
This was especially poignant, I believe, being a German broadcast. You can hear them gasp when they hear the German last name come through the thick Italian accent.
I still tear up and smile when watching that. “Annutio vobis gaudium magnum. HABEMUS PAPAM…” “I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope…”
This clip includes everything from that moment except the Camarlengo’s announcement—the white smoke, the crowd going wild, the bell ringing, and then the newly vested Pope Benedict XVI coming out onto the balcony and addressing his flock for the first time:
We’ll hear those words again in the next couple of weeks, and we will have the opportunity to meet our new shepherd.