The pope emeritus raised the issue in a letter to mark the 100th anniversary of his predecessor’s birth.
Benedict wrote about the discussions about calling John Paul “the Great” after his death and pointing out that only two popes were given that honor, Leo I in the fifth century and Gregory in the sixth century: He said John Paul was in that league.
“The similarity is unmistakable,” he writes. John Paul courageously confronted a strong civil power the same way as the other two popes, and nevertheless he won over the tyranny.
“The power of faith turned out to be a force that finally unhinged the Soviet power system in 1989 and made a new beginning possible. Undisputedly, the pope’s faith was an essential element in the collapse of the powers. And so, the greatness that appeared in Leo I and Gregory I is certainly also visible here.”
About Benedict’s letter:
Polish theologian and John Paul II expert Dominican Father Jarosław Kupczak told Crux the letter “is like a sip of spring water,” adding it is a gift not only to the Polish nation, but to the world.
“We see today various attempts to divide the modern papacies along different lines that serve the current interests of different factions. There is no theological break between John Paul II and Benedict XVI, neither is it between John Paul II and Francis,” Kupczak said, “because the teaching of the Church should be read in accordance with the hermeneutic of continuity, not rupture.”