Former Pope Benedict XVI will long be remembered for his resignation in 2013, but his legacy is "much deeper than that," Father Gerald Murray, the pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Manhattan, said on Newsmax on Tuesday, as the former Pontiff's body lies in state at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
"It was the first time we saw a Pope resigning in 600 years, so his legacy will be marked in the first place by that, but his legacy is much deeper because he was a profound theologian and a great spiritual writer," Murray commented on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "He was an inspirational figure."
Benedict died Saturday at 95 in the Vatican monastery where he had lived since his resignation. He will lie in state until Wednesday night. His funeral, which will be presided over by Pope Francis, will be held Thursday in St. Peter's Square. According to the Vatican, the Mass will be a simple, solemn ceremony in keeping with Benedict's wishes.
Murray on Tuesday said Benedict's life was a "commentary on the 20th century."
"He lived under oppression when there was communism in his country, East Germany," said Murray. "He knew what it was to confront evil in the modern world and he did so with his writings and with his life."
Benedict didn't want to become an authority figure, preferring to teach and write, but Pope Paul VI made him archbishop of Munich, "and from that point on he was in the hierarchy," said Murray.
"He ended up in the Vatican under John Paul the Second and then in 2005, he was the kind of natural successor because he had been at his side as his aide for over 20 years," said Murray. "I think his legacy is going to be studied by theologians and people who engage in spiritual meditation."
Benedict also promoted relations between Catholics and Jews after growing up in an anti-Nazi family but being drafted into the German army at 16 near the end of World War II, said Murray.
"They were drafting seminarians, and that's what he was," said Murray. "He was studying to become a priest."
When Benedict resigned as Pope, he said that he wanted to serve God in a "new and different way," said Murray. "He did that through prayer and study."
Benedict's legacy will long be studied, Murray added, noting that on a personal level, "he inspired me greatly," as he did other Catholics who read his books.
"Look at his life," said Murray. "This was a man who was holy and learned, and that's something that I strive to be."
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Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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