WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – Evangelical Christians offered messages of gratitude and respect to the outgoing leader of the Roman Catholic Church after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation Monday. Despite doctrinal differences, most evangelical leaders praised the pontiff for his intelligence and integrity. Many of them pointed to his uncompromising and articulate defense of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death as the defining hallmark of his decades-long career as a theologian, priest, and finally, pope.
Below is a sampling of their comments, taken from media reports.
“[Benedict XVI] has offered a brave and intelligent defense of truth against a relativist tide, and he has been a stalwart friend of life.”
– R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Pope Benedict XVI has served the Catholic Church during a time of significant challenge. He is a highly respected, traditional and conservative theologian. As the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his assistance with guiding the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was a major contribution for Lutherans and Catholics.”
– The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
“[Benedict] is a man worthy of our respect and appreciation. Although there are profound differences in Baptist and Catholic perspectives on faith, we shared a commitment to the sanctity of life and other biblical values.”
– Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
“I have found the Pontiff to be warm and authentic in our conversations and meetings. In addition, I appreciate his courage of ideas, even when they did not resonate with contemporary attitudes. I was especially moved by his boldness in warning us of the dangers of moral relativism and the tyranny of self-centered ideologies.”
– Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance
“[Benedict] has constantly spoken for those whose lives are seen as a burden to society: the baby with Down syndrome, the woman with advanced Alzheimer's, the child starving in the desert, the prisoner being tortured. These lives aren't things, he has said, but images of God, and for them we will give an account. When society wants to dehumanize with language: ‘embryo,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘anchor baby,’ ‘illegal alien,’ ‘collateral damage,’ and so on, Benedict has stood firmly to point to the human faces the world is seeking to wipe away.”
– Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Pope Benedict XVI has exemplified moral courage and an unwavering commitment to the Gospel message during his nearly eight-year tenure as Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been a steadying influence who has shown leadership at a critical time in the Church’s history. As he announces his retirement, we honor him for his lifelong service to the Lord and his inestimable intellectual contribution to Christian orthodoxy. We also pray for the Cardinals as they begin deliberations to choose his successor. As encroaching secularism, radical Islam, and evil in all its forms threaten Western civilization, this is a momentous time in the history of the Church. Whether Catholic or Protestant, we join in praying for the triumph of our faith and the glory of our Lord.”
– Ralph Reed, chairman, Faith & Freedom Coalition
“Pope Benedict XVI throughout his life has consistently taught the modern world that genuine progress for humankind cannot take place without a renewed and radical commitment to the dignity of each human life. The Pope’s contribution to defending the unborn and his support of rights of conscience transcend any particular religion and creed because these are basic human rights. We are saddened that the Pontiff’s declining health has led to his conscientious decision to resign his ministry as Bishop of Rome. He has been a source of inspiration to men and women of good will around the world.”
-Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President, Americans United for Life