One of the possibly unintended consequences of Benedict’s announcement that he is to step down as Pope - something unprecedented in the modern era - is that it might set in motion a dynamic that creates renewed opportunities for ecumenical dialogue by offering a new perspective on the role and place of the papacy, writes long time observer Dr Stephen Brown. He offers an assessment of both the plusses and minuses of the pontiff's period in office from the perspective of inter-Christian relations.
Ecumenical advisor, Middle East analyst and political consultant Dr Harry Hagopian, who is also an Ekklesia associate, has been doing the round of television stations today (11 February 2013), commenting on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the wider implications of the decision about who will succeed him.
Not long before he died in August last year (2012), the Catholic Archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini's final comments on the Church were that its leadership was “200 years out of date” - bureaucratic, pompous, autocratic, inflexible and seemingly remote from the spirit of Christ on key issues.
Dr Harry Hagopian suggests that a recent letter to the UK Foreign Secretary from two senior bishops opens up some fruitful lines of investigation in understanding, and seeking solutions to, a long-standing grievance in the Middle East.