Yesterday the world was shocked to hear that Pope Benedict XVI, citing health concerns, is resigning from office at the end of the month. I join many others in thanking God for his ministry and praying for a restful, productive retirement for him. I also join those lifting up the Roman Catholic Church in prayer as the College of Cardinals convenes to elect his successor.
I speak for many traditional Anglicans when I say that I have greatly appreciated this pope's stand for moral and doctrinal orthodoxy. In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile towards Christianity and even the simple notion of truth, Benedict XVI stood largely alone on the world stage, steadfastly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the confluence of faith and reason.
His books, sermons, and articles have been enjoyable to read and highly informative. I have not yet begun his trilogy on the life of Jesus Christ, but look forward to beginning it sometime this year. So far the two books of his that have been most influential to me were his books "The Spirit of the Liturgy" and "Principles of Catholic Theology." In the latter, one sees his great respect for Protestant theology in his interaction with Luther, Melanchthon, and other Lutheran theologians. This respect carried over to the Anglicans with the establishment of the personal ordinariates that we see being slowly established across the globe.
Besides all of this, many other great things could be said about this wonderful man of God and all that he accomplished while in office.
While it may seem strange to read an Anglican singing the praises of Pope Benedict XVI, those who have read Richard Hooker (see Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book III. Ch. i. 10-11) know that the Anglican perspective has always been that the Roman Catholic Church, despite having some doctrinal errors, is a true branch of Christ's One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, Church, and that the pope is a true bishop of the Church and the historical patriarch of the west. As such he is worthy of honor and praise... but in Benedict XVI's case, not only because of his office but because of his obvious godliness and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.