Bishop Minnerath (to right of Pope) and Bishops of the Province of Dijon, surrounding Pope Benedict XVI during the last Ad Limina visit to Rome in November 2012
On Monday, learning of the decision of Benedict XVI to leave his position as Pope for health reasons at the end of February, Archbishop Minnerath, according to RCF parabole (a radio channel) who was given a sole and unique interview, "did not want believe it. "
On Wednesday morning, Archbishop Minnerath agreed to speak on this sensitive subject. He did this without omitting to point out some disagreement with someone he knows, since the two men both worked at the Theological Commission in Rome.
"When one is Pope, we assume it is unto death", ruled the man of faith.
Explaining: "What is important is that the ministry of a priest, a bishop or the Pope, his intellectual qualities or the gift he makes of himself to Christ?".
"Is it not that which beareth fruit, more than anything else?," analyzed the archbishop before citing the example at the end of the pontificate of Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II:
"He was very impotent during the last years of his life, but he remained to the end" adding: "He gave an example of 'remaining faithful to the call I received.'"
Although he recognizes that Benedict XVI has made a choice "in conscious.”
"But it should not be at the expense of the choices others make to stay until the end."
"This is unprecedented"
This renunciation is a kind of revolution in the Church, which Monsignor Minnerath does not see in a very good light. "If we introduce a criterion of efficiency, this is quite valid in the Government of the temporal things by a head of state. But the exercise of the episcopate or the priesthood is something else!" thundered the archbishop.
According to him, when one is Pope, it means being "a witness, and one is a witness to all ages, whether you are in good condition or tired."
Especially since he highlights "the dimension of the relationship of the Pope to Christ." The following can already be imagined: "What is their status to be?This is unheard of!".
"Humility, simplicity, kindness"
However, Bishop Minnerath is not as severe when it comes to the balance of the eight years of Benedict XVI: "I pray for him, he gave a lot of himself. And also a beautiful testimony of the doctrine of the Church in the times that are ours. "
He retains most of all his "extreme humility, his simplicity and kindness."
Especially since he was found to be very different from the picture painted by the media after taking office: "It is just the opposite of what was told in the beginning."
Hints from his past as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith made him pass for an ultra-conservative in the Vatican.
Yet this does not "conform" with what Bishop Minnerath knows, citing his "finesse, his kindness and gentleness."
Especially since he was ultimately only half surprised, "he announced that if he was not in good health, he would retire.And he retired!."
What Msgr Minnerath fears the most is "collateral consequences of such a decision."
Revealing "I'm always hesitant when I see such changes, introduced in haste."
Source Msgr Minnerath has written a book on the Papal Primacy, which he discusses, for those understanding French.