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Papal resignation means changes for Catholic church

EDITORIAL

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 00:02

The last time a pope resigned, Christopher Columbus had yet to sail the “ocean blue.” In the Catholic Church’s 2000-year history, only four popes have resigned their position. Monday, that number became five when Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by giving the Vatican his “two-weeks-notice.”

In an official statement, Benedict, 85, said he would resign at the end of the month due to his “advanced age.” He will be the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.

Papal resignations, like most resignations of power, are usually a result of politics or scandal. The Catholic Church is no stranger to either and Benedict has seen his fair share of both, but it is unlikely that his resignation has anything to do with scandal. The world can take him at his word when he said his reason for resigning is that he recognizes his inability to fulfill his ministry. In other words, he is old and tired. Not many people shoulder the kind of responsibility that Benedict has, even if his papacy was short-lived.

In 2005, Benedict was chosen to succeed Pope John Paul II and since then, he has been a caretaker of the papacy, continuing the conservative views of John Paul — a pope the world was not ready to lose. Will the next pope do the same as Benedict?
The Church is politically divided — some members adhere to conservative values while others are more progressive. Will such politics play a part in the choosing of the next pope or will each side make a compromise and install a caretaker once again?
Benedict will leave the papacy Feb. 28. This poses a problem for the College of Cardinals because they have little time to elect his successor. For the Catholic Church, dealing with such a problem can be like kicking a can down the sidewalk. After Benedict leaves, the College of Cardinals can kick the can a little further by electing another caretaker pope, but the Church deserves more than just a “kick down the sidewalk.” It deserves a new, invested leader who will lead the Church in progress.

 

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