Father Chris Alar told Newsmax on Tuesday that the legacy of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will likely be the deepening polarization in the church after his resignation in 2013.
"Many will say that he knew that Pope Francis was going to be elected [after his resignation] and that would cause even further division within the church," Rev. Alar said during "Wake Up America" on Tuesday. "Some people are taking sides on this and so, in some sense, it has hurt."
Benedict, 95, died at the Vatican on Saturday. His successor, Pope Francis, will officiate at Saturday's funeral, church officials said.
Benedict was the first pope to resign his office in 600 years, citing health issues.
The Pillar reported that he told the cardinals at the time that his "strength of mind and body … deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
The subsequent election of Pope Francis, who leaned farther left in his views of the church, exacerbated a growing schism among Catholics, Church Life Journal reported in 2019.
"Unfortunately, our Catholic Church right now has faced kind of a polarization on viewpoints," Rev. Alar said. "From what we consider a far-left view and a liberal standpoint versus the traditionalist view. In fact, it was Pope Benedict himself who talked about the importance of hermeneutic of continuity. He was the one who stressed that we can't have just a pre-Vatican II church, and we can't have just a post-Vatican II church. We need them both."
Alar noted that the rift in the church continued to grow after Benedict's calls for unity.
Alar said Pope Francis relied on Pope Benedict's counsel on many issues, despite the fact that Benedict yielded no official power in the church after retirement.
"Canon law teaches us, and tells us, that if you are a pope emeritus you do not have any power, but it seems that Pope Francis relied on him on some things, and did turn to his advice and his guidance on a lot of issues," Alar said. "So, he wasn't completely absent after resigning."
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