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Side by side comparison of the papal thrones for Benedict XVI and Francis(r/pics)
Benedict XVI never wanted to work in Church administration, much less be pope. All he wanted to do in life was be a professor of theology, and almost rejected Paul VI’s offer to become Archbishop of Munich, only accepting after his confessor convinced him that it was his duty to accept. He tried to delay John Paul II’s request that he come to Rome and become Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, believing that the post would detract from his academic theological work, but accepted again in loyalty to the pope. He resigned twice as Prefect but continued in the post when those resignations were rejected by John Paul II, and in 2005 he was finally looking forward to retire when, to his dismay, he himself was elected pope. Ratzinger reluctantly accepted again when he was reminded by a fellow cardinal that Christ encouraged Peter, the first pope, to follow him even if Peter didn’t want to go. Again, Ratzinger clearly never wanted a job in the hierarchy of the Church but ended up with the highest job of them all, doing what he felt was his duty at the expense of his own personal desires: upon his election, he prayed: “Lord, why are you asking this of me, and what is it that you are asking of me? It is a heavy burden which you are laying on my shoulders, but if you ask it of me, at your word I will cast the net, sure that you will lead me even with all my weaknesses.”
He did the job because he felt that God had called him to do it, but after “examining his conscience” (see his resignation announcement), concluded that he had done all that he could in the position and so vacated it. He spoke frequently of the papacy weighing down upon him heavily, saying in his resignation announcement that it must be carried out with “prayer and suffering”—indeed he compared his election to the papacy to a guillotine coming down on him.
He just really, really did not like the job from the beginning. And yet admirably he persisted in the role until he became convinced that he could no longer do what it required of him.