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EXCLUSIVE EAGLE INTERVIEW: Brooklyn’s Bishop DiMarzio reflects on Pope Benedict’s legacy

February 12, 2013 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation on Monday stunned Brooklyn’s Roman Catholics. The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, reflected on the Pope’s visit to New York City five years ago, and on his legacy.

In an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle, Bishop DiMarzio remembers with fondness Pope Benedict’s 2008 visit to New York City. “Clearly he is a pastoral man,” Bishop DiMarzio said. But DiMarzio also saw how wearing the trip had been on Pope Benedict even then.

“One of the problems with the Papacy is that there is a lot of pressure on him.  “It’s a physically demanding job that anyone would have problems with—especially when you’re an 85-year-old man and not too feeling well, it’s even worse.”

Even with a change in the focus of catechesis (teaching of the Catholic faith) in recent years to focus on values, rather than on the structure and traditions of Church history, Bishop DiMarzio believes that Pope Benedict has left a clear legacy.

“I think it’s his clarity of intellect, his writings, encyclicals, weekly addresses to people. He’s given a clearer understanding of the Church today. He will explain the Church in a way that’s understandable to almost anyone. That will be his legacy.”

The group Catholic Democrats believes that Pope Benedict’s legacy includes a commitment to Catholic social teaching. Catholic Democrats issued a statement on Monday, praising Pope Benedict XVI for his pastoral leadership.

“In 2009, Pope Benedict issued Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), a papal encyclical that looked at the importance of helping the poor around the world, especially in the wake of the breakdown of the economic order in 2008,” said Nicholas Cafardi, a member of Catholic Democrats board of directors and the editor of Voting and Holiness.  

“At a point in time where so many were ignoring the voices of the poor, Pope Benedict heard them and provided tremendous leadership in ensuring that those in power paid attention to the most vulnerable among us.  He has also taken a strong role in connecting the relationship between the good stewardship of the environment to poverty around the world.  Throughout his Papacy, he has continued to shine a spotlight on these issues, and has thus added important intellectual and pastoral thinking to Catholic social teaching.”

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