12 February 2013, 10:05
Russian scholar praises Benedict XVI, slams John Paul II
Moscow, February 12, Interfax - Outgoing Pope Benedict XVI "has been able to strengthen the Catholic Church and improve relations with" the Russian Orthodox Church, a Russian religious scholar said.
"His decision to resign deserves respect. He has been a powerful leader, and would be able to continue his mission successfully if it weren't for his age," Roman Silantyev told Interfax-Religion.
Benedict took charge of what was "a church that had been seriously weakend by his predecessor," Silantyev said.
"John Paul II wanted to be liked by everyone, and as a result he did huge harm to the Catholics, turning millions of people away from his Church. His tenure saw mass-scale closures or conversions of Catholic Churches in Europe. Seminaries with histories spanning many centuries lost their students, and orphanages in Third World countries became the main source of new clergy," the scholar said.
During Benedict's tenure, "the useless 'thrust toward the East' [alleged proselytism by Uniates], which was taking up huge resources, has come to an end, there has been an improvement in relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has proved to be the Vatican's main ally in asserting the Christian way of life in the European Union," Silantyev said.
Benedict "hasn't had the idee fixe of coming to Moscow because he has repeatedly met with the incumbent Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia anyway," he said.
"It appears to be most likely that an Italian cardinal will be elected to this post," Silantyev said.