Father Gerald Murray on the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation surprised especially those in the Roman Catholic Church. Father Gerald Murray, who leads Church of the Holy Family near the United Nations in New York City, reflected on the legacy the pope will leave. “Did the pope accomplish everything he wanted to do?” Murray said. “I don't think he did because, naturally, no one does in life. “ Still, Murray said, his resignation will leave a mark, as well as his writings and teachings. “So we're very grateful for this pope because he's provided a lot of guidance and inspiration,” he said.



"The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI will begin with the fact that he resigned, which is a very interesting thing to reflect on.  He is doing something for the benefit of the church, which is to allow them, allow the cardinals to elect someone more vigorous and in better health to carry on the arduous task.  So it's a sign for the world that he didn't grasp power and that he wasn't interested in simply staying in power for the sake of that.  His broader legacy will include his writings, his speeches.  He's a profound thinker.  He's one of the great theologians of the church and certainly, the pastoral efforts that he made to restore a sense of beauty and mystery to divine worship, the mass and the other sacraments, his attempt to promote Christian doctrine and moral values in the world, which often rejects them, his efforts to have a greater understanding between Jews and Catholics and also between Muslims and Catholics; all of those are enduring legacy items from Pope Benedict.

I think the pope is very intent that all believers in God come to a common understanding of how we defend the basic right to religious freedom in the modern world, the right of believers to be able to practice their faith in the public square without coercion; also very sensitive to the right of people to be able to change their religion without suffering penalties of the civil law.  The pope was very well aware of the problem of Islamic terrorism, which is a grave offense against religious freedom and against mutual cooperation.  He was also very sensitive to the problem of anti-Semitism in Western culture and in the church.  And it was very significant that he visited a synagogue when he was here in New York in 2008, a synagogue very close to this parish in which he said, coming here reminds me of the place where Jesus would have gone to pray as he was a young boy.  The Jewish roots of Christianity was something the pope was very conscious of and that should lead to greater friendship and understanding and certainly respect on the part of Christians, for Jews.  

Did the pope accomplish everything he wanted to do?  I don't think he did because, naturally, no one does in life. Efforts that he has made to counter so-called same-sex marriage in Europe have fallen on deaf ears. We have same-sex marriage right now being authorized in both England and France and the pope has warned against this as a redefinition of a human reality.

The question of sexual abuse of minors by priests and others connected to the church was a grave offense against human integrity against values, against God's law, against the rights of those children and the pope was very forthright in going after the problem. So there's more work to be done to clean it up, but the pope made the law and the practice tougher and I think that's a great compliment to him.

Now the focus is on praying for the church and the conclave when the cardinals will elect the new pope.  So we're very grateful for this pope because he's provided a lot of guidance and inspiration. He came to the UN. This parish serves the UN community.  In 2008 he was…he was visiting our parish, we can say.  He was within our boundaries, even though he didn't visit the church itself and he gave a very inspiring message about natural law and the rights of man.  So I think we're sad to see him go, but confident that we will be blessed with a good pope."

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