POPE TO RESIGN!

February 11th, 2013
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I am sure most readers know this by now, but Pope Benedict has announced he will resign on February 28.

This is very unusual.   The last time a pope resigned was Pope Gregory XVI in 1415.  The vast majority of popes serve until their death.   Church law was revised in 1983 to make it more clear how a papal resignation could be handled.   In modern times, as life-extending medicine has improved, it has become more clear that it was only a matter of time before a Pope reached a mental and physical state that would necessitate their resignation some time before death.

Via the New York Times:

VATICAN CITY — Citing advanced years and infirmity, but showing characteristic tough-mindedness and unpredictability, Pope Benedict XVI shocked Roman Catholics on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28, becoming the first pope to do so in six centuries.

Speaking in Latin to a small gathering of cardinals at the Vatican on Monday morning, Benedict said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of leading the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.

The statement, soon translated into seven languages, ricocheted around the globe.

A shy, tough-minded theologian who seemed to relish writing books more than greeting stadium crowds, Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II. An often divisive figure, he spent much of his papacy in the shadow of his beloved predecessor.

I do question his reasons for resigning. While he is not a young man, the 85 year old pope has not had any very serious health problems and popes have served in much more frail and elderly states.

It’s possible that the resignation may be due to the division and the criticism that has followed this pope. Seeing how this pope has dealt with the church sex abuse scandal and various social issues has made me long for John Paul II41
who, by comparison, seemed to be very liberal and reasonable. Granted, at the time, he didn’t seem it, but compared to the current pope, even John Paul II looks good.

I should add that I am from a Catholic family. For those who are not, it’s hard to even begin to explain what a big deal this is to the world’s Catholics. To members of the Catholic Church, the pope is beloved, almost as a family member, and also a superstar. Catholics will no-doubt, be glued to their televisions as the Vatican begins its elections for a new pope. When one is chosen, it will be a big event across the world.

For those who are not Catholic or not religious at all, the importance of the pope should not be dismissed. He is the official head of the Vatican state and the leader of the single largest centrally-organized religion on earth. The pope’s word is so revered that it can alter the habits and actions of Catholics from the United States to Europe to Africa and India. It is especially potent in the most Catholic regions of the world, such as Poland, Ireland and Latin America. The Catholic Church distributes billions of dollars to affiliated organizations and the size of the Catholic voting block makes it a power player in the politics of many countries.

While I am sure that I will not agree with the next pope on all issues, I very much hope someone can be elected who will do a better job than Benedict XVI at bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st century and helping to end some of the most offensive practices, especially coming down hard on those who protect abusive priests.

I hope that other secularists and non-religious individuals will withhold their judgement on the next pope, at least until we see what kind of policy stands he takes. Clearly anyone who rejects religion is not likely to find any pope very agreeable, but we can at least hope to find one who will help bring things forward.


This entry was posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013 at 4:07 pm and is filed under Culture, religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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18 Responses to “POPE TO RESIGN!”

  1. 1
    Sigivald Says:

    At least the less clever/clueful sort will stop with the insipid “Nazi” cracks.


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  2. 2
    DV82XL Says:

    I agree he is bailing out because of the sex abuse scandals.

    I could care less about where the next pontiff stands on doctrinal matters but he had better seriously address the 600 lbs gorilla in the room that is sexual abuse of children by clergy and members of religious orders, something Benedict fell very short on in my opinion.

    This has nothing to do with religion per se. If some people want to subordinate their freedom to make their own decisions to someone else or some organization, as long as it doesn’t effect me, that is their business. But when the weaker members of society are victimized by those in a position of trust it is everyone’s business. Furthermore the responsibility for dealing with this issue falls on the whole Church hierarchy from the Pope down, not just the local vicar for clergy.


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  3. 3
    Robert Sneddon Says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger was the Collegiate legbreaker for JPII hence his incredibly rapid assumption of the Papacy after JPII died since he had the goods on most of the Conclave as head of the Congregation for the Defence of the Faith and had worked with JPII to select many of them in the first place. I don’t think there’s a cardinal left in the Conclave who was appointed by a Pope previous to JPII.

    By resigning rather than dying in harness he will have some control over who will be his successor; he won’t get a vote in the Conclave as a cardinal as he’s too old at 85 but he can influence the choice that will be made.


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  4. 4
    Anon Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I agree he is bailing out because of the sex abuse scandals.

    Pretty obvious that.

            DV82XL said:

    I could care less about where the next pontiff stands on doctrinal matters

    Whilst it’s not that relevant to the first world where most Catholics barely listen to the church’s teachings it will have a big impact on the third world.

            DV82XL said:

    but he had better seriously address the 600 lbs gorilla in the room that is sexual abuse of children by clergy and members of religious orders, something Benedict fell very short on in my opinion.

    Bit of an understatement there.

            DV82XL said:

    This has nothing to do with religion per se. If some people want to subordinate their freedom to make their own decisions to someone else or some organization, as long as it doesn’t effect me, that is their business.

    The problem is that religious beliefs do affect everyone because people act on their beliefs.

            DV82XL said:

    But when the weaker members of society are victimized by those in a position of trust it is everyone’s business. Furthermore the responsibility for dealing with this issue falls on the whole Church hierarchy from the Pope down, not just the local vicar for clergy.

    Just not ordering the priests not to report the abuse would have been a massive improvement.

            Robert Sneddon said:

    By resigning rather than dying in harness he will have some control over who will be his successor; he won’t get a vote in the Conclave as a cardinal as he’s too old at 85 but he can influence the choice that will be made.

    That does bring up the question of who will be next. I’d expect one of the conservatives (and religion is becoming more conservative as it declines so there may never be another true reformist pope).


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  5. 5
    DV82XL Says:

            Anon said:

    Whilst it’s not that relevant to the first world where most Catholics barely listen to the church’s teachings it will have a big impact on the third world.

    Not as big an impact as the Church (and its enemies) like to think. The leadership in most countries where the Catholic Church is supposed to have so much influence pays little more than lip-service to the Church especially since for decades priests and the orders have been forbidden to participate directly in politics. There are secular NGOs that swing more weight in Third World politics now than the RCs.

            Anon said:

    The problem is that religious beliefs do affect everyone because people act on their beliefs.

    That may be true in the absolute sense, but Catholics are about as mainstream as it can get, and I seriously doubt that any Pope will be ordering his followers to drink the laced Kool-ade any time soon. In other words, like the person wearing the British crown, the Popes powers may be great in theory just as long as he never exercises them. I worry more about the rise of another more powerful L. Ron Hubbard than who is voted the next Vicar of Christ.


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  6. 6
    Anon Says:

            DV82XL said:

    That may be true in the absolute sense, but Catholics are about as mainstream as it can get, and I seriously doubt that any Pope will be ordering his followers to drink the laced Kool-ade any time soon.

    True, it does apply to all religions as well as a lot of quasi-religions.

            DV82XL said:

    In other words, like the person wearing the British crown, the Popes powers may be great in theory just as long as he never exercises them. I worry more about the rise of another more powerful L. Ron Hubbard than who is voted the next Vicar of Christ.

    Need to keep a close eye on science fictions authors then. :-/


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  7. 7
    David Walters Says:

    The other big issue…not as big as the child abuse scandal which reflects badly on VERY Pope going back to the 1940s at least (because it was going on then and nothing was done about it) is contraceptive medicine. When it’s reported that 98% of all Catholic women in the U.S. use some form of contraceptive medicine or devices then it shows the Church is way outta whack with the ‘flock’. Either the Church’s POV is wrong or the flock’s is wrong, and either way the Church as failed to implement it’s positions or get it adopted by much anyone. So it’s a major “FAIL”.

    Secondly, I don’t agree that the Pope’s POV is disregarded. Talk to any professors at any Catholic University and see the reaction you get. The universities have been *purged* of their liberal professors, but lay and priestly, as have publications and other forms of internal Church education. I think the role of Pope as ‘absolute monarch’ of the Church is quite deserved. I


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  8. 8
    Camara Says:

    It is cute how in the CONUS self-styled Refuge of Rationality AKA “Depleted Cranium” the moral fervor of scribblers gets directed against the child abuse of Catholic priests.

    But then the NATO country press in English (US, Canada, UK, Australia), slavishly believed as it is by Depleted Crania, would have it that pederasty is a Catholic preserve. After all, the Catholic Church opposes both aspects of Israeli policy esp. on Jerusalem, with the US Congress and much of Canada bought and paid for by AIPAC for Israel, so any child abuse mud that will stick to Catholics is useful. And it is true that there is a lot of genuine mud.

    However, the Catholic Church is also one of the few potential or actual opponents to Anglo corporate capitalism, having a notion of social justice and the global network whereby to spread that notion to employees of transnationals.

    Note the role played in the 70s by the Catholic Liberation Theoology in S. America, site of much inward N. American investment.

    Hence the Buzzo-ites are not the only elements interested in pretending that pedophilia is a Catholic specialism. After all, if Catholic priests are all child molesters, anything they say about Amerindians dying in Canadian gold mines in S. America on behalf of Barrick Gold’s share price must have low credibility, mustn’t it?

    FYI, because you are not going to read it in the US toady press: The US State Dept. ran and runs a child abuse ring in SE Asia (see reports by Wayne Madsen, ex-NSA); Yorkshire TV made a suppressed film about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Affair, another of the US pederasty scandals; have Buzzo-ites also forgotten “Pagegate”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Foley_scandal, only 6 years ago?

    In Europe, the entire judiciary, police and political class of Belgium was implicated in the Marc Dutroux murder and underage rape cover-up; in Germany, the judiciary and police of the state of Saxony conspired in the 90s to persecute a brave parliamentarian who was exposing sexual abuse by those lawyers, judges and police of underage forced prostitutes, the “Sachsensumpf” affair.

    And no, there was no Catholic Church involvement at all.


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  9. 9
    Gordon Says:

    I grew up in a strong traditional Catholic family where my aunt had a picture of the pope on the wall of her livingroom.

    It’s true Catholics listen to the pope and treat the pope as a superstar and almost a family member.

    The pope is the head of the largest centrally-organized religion on earth and Roman Catholics are a huge voting block in many countries. They are the largest single denomination in the US and Canada. There are a billion Catholics in the world.

    The pope can make a difference. Just imagine what would happen if a pope came to power who preached the message of tolerance of gays and other religions. Imagine if a pope said that it was the duty of Catholics to provide medical care that would reduce disease, even if that meant supporting contraception.


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  10. 10
    James Greenidge Says:

    I have give my hat to the Pope. If you feel an incapacity coming on, why afflict your affected thought process and judgement on billions of believers? I wish more summoned the guts to turn in the towel when they they sense the job and crucial responsibility is getting too much to handle. It’s corny, but that Dirty Harry adage about limitations rings true.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY


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  11. 11
    DV82XL Says:

            Gordon said:

    The pope is the head of the largest centrally-organized religion on earth and Roman Catholics are a huge voting block in many countries. They are the largest single denomination in the US and Canada. There are a billion Catholics in the world.

    Things are just not what they used to be. According to Time magazine, Catholicism is gradually losing followers. The U.S. Catholic population is down by five per cent since 2000, to 59 million, according to the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville, while the share of Catholics in Ireland who attend Mass has plummeted from 82 per cent in 1981 to just 35 per cent today. Church attendance in Canada decreased from about 60 per cent to 25 per cent during the 50-year period spanning the 1950s to 2000s and the trends are the same in Europe. The situation is not much better in the rest of the world. In 1991 Catholic Brazilians were nearly 83%, of the population but today according to new studies, they are barely 67%. Support among Generation X and Millennials is particularly weak and fewer Catholics are entering religious life.

    In in the U.S. in 1965, there were 179,954 women in Catholic religious orders. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000, in 2005 it was 68,634 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, 7,850 young men were studying to become priests; in 2000, the figure was 480. Even in South America, where membership has not dropped as badly, over half of Sunday worship is led by lay administrants.

    This is an organization in deep decline. True the Pope may still be an important figure among older people, but the influence of his office is not what it once was.

    I am sure most Catholic would be very happy if the next pope were to be a reformer and espoused more liberal doctrines and demanded more accountability for the actions of its employees, but the fact is if he doesn’t do any of this, or even if he swings farther into conservative views, most Catholics will not change their behavior. And that in the end is why his power isn’t there anymore.


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  12. 12
    Shafe Says:

            David Walters said:

    The other big issue…not as big as the child abuse scandal which reflects badly on VERY Pope going back to the 1940s at least (because it was going on then and nothing was done about it) is contraceptive medicine. When it’s reported that 98% of all Catholic women in the U.S. use some form of contraceptive medicine or devices then it shows the Church is way outta whack with the ‘flock’. Either the Church’s POV is wrong or the flock’s is wrong, and either way the Church as failed to implement it’s positions or get it adopted by much anyone. So it’s a major “FAIL”.

    I remember hearing an opinion from a Catholic about the high rate of teen pregnancy among Catholics. **Caution: Anecdotal** It was something to the effect that if you fall to temptation and have premarital sex, that is a sin and you will be forgiven because you are weak. But if you carry a condom or take the pill, then that demonstrates that your engagement in sex is premeditated, which is evidently a greater sin. Perversely, this contributes substantially to the number of abortions among young Catholics, which I’m sure most would feel is an even greater sin. I agree that a Pope engaged in the issue of birth control could do a lot to straighten out an idiosyncrasy like that.

    Of course, the secular benefits to reduced teen pregnancies are a lower school drop-out rate, greater numbers of two-parent families, and lower reliance on welfare. But I don’t think an educated and affluent population has ever done much to put butts in the pews, so I’m sure it’s not a big priority for the Vatican.


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  13. 13
    Anon Says:

            Shafe said:

    But I don’t think an educated and affluent population has ever done much to put butts in the pews, so I’m sure it’s not a big priority for the Vatican.

    It’s something of a dilemma that religion has in that affluent followers have more money to give but are less likely to be religious.


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  14. 14
    Jason Smith Says:

    This is totally off topic, but I want to know, as someone with political aspirations, what you think should be done in light of the nuclear test in North Korea.


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  15. 15
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Jason Smith said:

    This is totally off topic, but I want to know, as someone with political aspirations, what you think should be done in light of the nuclear test in North Korea.

    Good question.

    First, I should say that I am not overly concerned that North Korea is looking to start an all-out nuclear war. Their weapons are a bargaining chip, they are a way of suring up their own defenses, a piece of domestic and forign propaganda etc. They are not, however, viable weapons of aggression. I think it is questionable whether they actually have a design that is mature enough to be a viable weapon (although they are close) and if they do, I am confident none of their delivery systems could reach a target successfully anyway.

    That said, they are a nation that we need to be concerned about.

    North Korea is run by a novice dictator. We don’t know exactly what is going on with him and he may feel like he needs to prove his toughness. It’s a state which is closed to diplomacy and has engaged in outrageous behavior before. I believe its days are numbered, and that’s a concern, because countries can behave irrationally when in their death throws.

    What I believe we absolutely cannot tolerate is some of the direct aggression by North Korea. A couple of years ago they shelled the Yeonpyeong. It was an act of war. Several civilians were killed. This is absolutely not tolerable and should have met with retaliation. They have also sunken ships in international waters. This is not something that should ever be allowed to happen without very severe consequences.

    The United States is committed by treaty to be a major force in defense of South Korea and our relations with South Korea and Japan make this a very important issue.

    Here are the things I think we should do:

    First, we need to really need to get our military less engaged in the Middle East and finish up Afghanistan. The thing about a country like North Korea is they will feel they are free to act in aggression if they believe the US is too occupied elsewhere to respond. That’s what I think helped cause the 2010 incidents to happen: They knew we were in no position to face a military conflict in the area, because we were spread too thin as is. A less occupied military is a more credible force.

    One thing the US has done in the past to flex its muscle has been dispatching a number of carriers to a region. This is a visible show of strength, especially when they have a lot of low flying aircraft in the area doing drills and patrols. It might be time to flex that muscle in their area.

    The next time North Korea engages in some kind of real aggression – like actually kills people with shelling or something, we need to hit them back hard. I mean a cruise-missile barrage to their military bases that destroys their best aircraft or something like that. It’s an appropriate response to that kind of attack. And trust me, it will not result in an all-out war. They are not that stupid. But they need to be burned or they won’t stop playing with fire.

    As far as their nuclear program – we can neutralize that threat by making sure we keep upgrading and deploying our air defenses in the area. We should look at sending some THAAD units to the area, keep the Patriot batteries on alert, upgrade radar and so on. We want those layers of missile defense to stay very credible. Also, we should consider some improved anti-aircraft missiles.

    The most important thing we can do from a long-term strategic standpoint is open some discussions with the Chinese about North Korea and work with them to achieve the common goal of keeping North Korea in check.

    It’s important to realize how China plays into this. The Chinese do not like North Korea and consider it a huge liability. The potential for North Korea to cause a regional conflict threatens China’s desire to continue economic expansion. Instability threatens trade and could draw the Chinese into an expensive military exchange.

    The Chinese only tolerates North Korea and maintains an uneasy alliance with them because they are concerned of the consequences from a fall of the regime. They would just as soon ass NK drop off the map, but they know a collapse of the government could cause a refugee crisis and they do not want that.

    However, the more aggressive North Korea gets the less likely China is to continue to tolerate the situation.

    So really, we want the same thing as China: We want North Korea to stop making trouble but without a catastrophic collapse. They can be a partner in working toward that end.


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  16. 16
    Anon Says:

    While we’re off topic I should also note that North Korea has enough conventional weapons to do some pretty serious damage to Seoul along with their nukes.

    Korean unification is going to be harder than German reunification due to the lower standard of living of North Korea and greater proportion of the population, also the population has less access to media from outside. Korea will probably need some significant foreign aid to be able to pull it off.

    On the topic of China, the US military presence in South Korea isn’t something they particularly like and is in fact one of the reasons they continue to support North Korea.


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  17. 17
    DV82XL Says:

    The nuclear test in North Korea is a subject that should get its own thread.


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  18. 18
    Gordon Says:

            Anon said:

    On the topic of China, the US military presence in South Korea isn’t something they particularly like and is in fact one of the reasons they continue to support North Korea.

    Couldn’t it also be seen as reason the Chinese should NOT support North Korea. IE: If North Korea were weaker and less of a military threat, the US would be more prone to drawing down its presence in the region.

    I do think there is some truth in the statement that China is becoming fed up with North Korea causing unnecessary trouble in the region. Apparently after this test and some of the recent North Korean missile tests, the Chinese are now actually siding against NK and denouncing the activities, which is something they never used to do.

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/asia/china/AJ201302140077


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