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“Physician, Heal Thyself”
A Suffering Pope Abdicates

by Richard Lehrberger
February 15, 2013

Andrea Tornielli, the well-known Vatican journalist who spoke at our “Consecration Now!” conference in 2011, wrote an article on February 12 for La Stampa about Pope Benedict’s resignation, entitled “The meaning of the Pope’s gesture.” The article begins with Tornielli addressing Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’s startling comment from this past Monday, that Pope John Paul II did not step down from the papacy because “he [John Paul II] was convinced that one doesn’t come down from the cross.”

“Regardless of its intended message”, Tornielli writes, “the comment made by Wojtyla’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, about John Paul II ‘not coming down from the cross’ came across as a negative criticism of Benedict XVI’s shock[ing] decision.”

Importantly, Tornielli knows a thing or two about the sufferings of Pope Benedict. He co-authored a book, Attack on Ratzinger, with fellow Vatican journalist Paolo Rodari in 2010. The book details twelve episodes in which Pope Benedict was either vilified or derided by those outside and, in many cases, inside the Church. Thus, in view of his insight, Tornielli is in a better position than many to respond to Dziwisz’s controversial statement, and he does so by asking a point-blank question in his La Stampa article: “Had the ‘cross’ of [Benedict’s] pontificate become too much to bear?” Tornielli then answers his own question:

”Absolutely, otherwise the elderly Bavarian theologian would not have resorted to taking such a drastic decision, a first in Church history, given that none of the extremely rare cases of resignations presented in the two millennia that preceded his are comparable to this.”

A drastic decision. A first in Church history. Is it too much of a stretch to conclude, based on Tornielli’s assessment, that Pope Benedict has, in some ways, agonized a great deal more than most people realize? Not at all, especially if we consider the prophetic warning from Our Lady of Fatima that “the Holy Father will have much to suffer”. Apparently, the Pope has had so much to suffer in the past eight years that he is no longer able to tolerate the pain of that suffering, and has therefore decided to step down. At least, this is Tornielli’s opinion on the matter.

Of course, the Blessed Virgin announced the sufferings of the Pope in 1917, and She did so within the context of a future — a contingent future — in which Russia has been left unconsecrated to Her Immaculate Heart. Thus, in an ironic twist, and as Fatima expert Christopher Ferrara put it last year at the “Fatima: Your Last Chance!” conference, “We are in a very strange situation, locked in a jail cell to which we hold the key.”

Indeed, Pope Benedict holds the key, or in this case the remedy, which will release him from the pains of his own suffering: the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Unfortunately, it is most probable that our reigning Pontiff, in his few remaining days as St. Peter’s successor, will choose not to administer this cure to himself, leaving us to wonder not only Why? but also to recall those three famous words from Our Lord’s proverb in St. Luke’s Gospel (4:23): “Physician, heal thyself.”


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