(with apologies to Joyce Kilmer)
Q-and-A: American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick talked with John Allen in Rome about Pope Benedict's resignation and the dynamics of the upcoming election.
Speaking for the last time to the clergy of the diocese of Rome as their bishop, Pope Benedict today said there must be a distinction between "true" and "virtual" interpretations of the Second Vatican Council.
Additionally, said the pope, press members covering the years following the 1962-65 meeting of bishops were responsible for "trivializing the idea of the Council."
Now, only fifty years after its opening, the pope continued, can the faithful see the "true Council...emerging with all its spiritual strength."
John Allen in Rome: The Vatican spokesman shot down one rumor but confirmed another this morning in what has become a daily exercise in rumor control.
On Thursday, Pope Benedict spoke extemporaneously on his experiences at Vatican II at his last encounter with the clergy of his diocese.
“The Gospel’s call to love one another is the basis for the rich Catholic social teaching that sparked and nourished my love of God and church. It is this love that is absent from too many actions of our leadership. No wonder Catholics like me are despairing. We can’t find Christ in our church. …
Conventional wisdom about Benedict XVI holds that he's a strong teaching pope but weak on the business management side, reflected in the "Vatileaks" mess and other internal breakdowns. Yet defenders argue he's actually been a reformer, perhaps nowhere more so than on Vatican finances.
The next few days seem likely to bring one final twist to the story, with the naming of a new president for the embattled Vatican Bank.
Famously, the papacy of Benedict XVI has had a rocky relationship with religious women, especially in the United States. An apostolic visitation of women's orders in America was initiated in 2008, and in 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decreed a sweeping overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
His post-papal life, however, will in a certain sense be thanks to the nuns.
The safe, polite word is that resigning was perhaps the best thing Benedict XVI ever did. Sometimes it is said with a tinge of damning with faint praise, but often it sounds sincere for reasons well articulated.