Antonio Socci foresaw Pope Benedict XVI's resignation back in 2011, and he said Monday he feels "extremely sad, together the rest of 'Ratzinger’s people.'"
"I had hoped the facts would prove me wrong," Socci, a noted Catholic journalist and author of the blog Lo straniero, told The Huffington Post in an interview.
What signs led you to suspect Pope Benedict XVI might resign?
On September 25, 2011, I heard the news from several different sources,independent from each other. When he analytically considered the possibility of his resignation in his book interview with Peter Seevald, he explained that it would not have been comprehensible while the Church was in the middle of a storm. A month later, Vatileaks exploded.
He probably didn’t feel it was right to quit then. It would have seemed like he was running away. His decision to quit was put on hold. Then, a month ago, his butler Gabriele was pardoned.
Would you say the Church is in safe harbor right now?
The Church is never in calm waters, but right now is a moment of relative tranquility.
What impact will this resignation have on the Church?
It’s going to have a very strong impact. This was a very character-centric papacy, in line with Wojtyla’s papacy. Lots of things are still under construction. The issue of liturgical reform, the dialogue with the orthodoxy -- the famous first trip to Russia which will never happen -- dialogue with lay people, reconciliation with the Lefevrians, which is now more storm-tossed than ever. Rebuilding unity among Christians, one of the objectives of this papacy, has been put on hold. Choosing the next pope will be a truly difficult choice, because it will mark the new direction of the Church.
What effect will it have in Italy, especially in light of the upcoming elections?
As far as Italy is concerned, the Pope took a point of view that was too high to allow us to see any real effect right now. With Ruini and Wojtyla, Ratzinger’s Italian Church was a very strong point of resistance to a secular Europe. A Church of the people, which jealously guarded Christian identity, is now left hanging in the balance.
This piece has been translated from Italian and originally appeared on HuffPost Italy.