Bishop Colin Campbell
Pope Benedict XVI looked ''frail'' the last time Dunedin
Roman Catholic Bishop Colin Campbell saw him just over a year
However, Bishop Campbell (71) was very surprised to learn of
the papal resignation from media reports yesterday morning.
''I think it was a surprise to all of us.''
Bishop Campbell met Pope Benedict (85) several times, at the
Vatican and at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008. He had also
met him before his papacy, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the
title Pope Benedict resumes when his papacy ends on February
In December 2011, New Zealand's bishops travelled to Rome for
their five-yearly ad limina visit to the Vatican.
''Well, I did notice ... that he was more frail than the time
I'd seen him before.''
With a perceptive and intelligent mind, Pope Benedict was
quick to grasp concepts and issues, Bishop Campbell said.
His legacy was likely to be his contribution to theology and
''He's been very strong in areas of morality. He's always
been clear-cut and precise about the theological direction of
Asked if the church was in good heart, Bishop Campbell
acknowledged a ''number of areas'' needed work, including
continuing reforms started in the 1960s, particularly of the
Vatican's ruling structure (the curia), and the role of
bishops. ''In my mind, I think there's still work from the
second Vatican council that needs to be completed. I think
there's the area of reform of the curia. I think there's a
need for a deeper assessment and appreciation of the
collegiality of bishops.''
Asked if the church needed a modernising pope, he said while
the ''basic truths'' of the church never changed, he would
like to see some ''vision''.
''We're looking more at a kind of an attitude in a sense ...
a bit like Pope John XXIII, who had this great vision. I
suppose we're looking at a wider vision here.''
Pope John XXIII launched the second Vatican Council in 1962,
which sought to bring the church into the modern age.
University of Otago Associate Prof Greg Dawes, an authority
on modern Catholicism, said the Vatican still tended to see
bishops as ''branch managers''. Reformers wanted bishops to
play a greater part in decision-making. Pope Benedict had
taken a conservative interpretation of the reforms suggested
by the second Vatican Council, as had his predecessor, Pope
John Paul II, Prof Dawes said.
Given the appointment of mainly conservative cardinals in
recent years, it was unlikely the next pope would be a
modernising figure, although ''surprises can come out of
The church could recover some of the moral authority it lost
over the sexual abuse scandals by adopting a strong stance on
economic and social justice issues, Prof Dawes said.
The next pope had ''repair work'' to do, he suggested.
Prof Andrew Bradstock, of the Centre for Theology and Public
Issues, said the unusual resignation was an opportunity for
the church to adopt a more ''humble'' role, rather than
acting as though it were a ''major'' power, remote from the