Pope Resigns, Makes History

Roberto Ponti

The pope, seated at center.

Meredith Geaghan-Breiner
February 11, 2013

Yesterday, Mon. Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign in six centuries.

Delivering the announcement in Latin to a meeting of cardinals, the 85-year-old said that a lack of “strength of mind and body” crippled his ability to lead the world’s Catholics in a world “subject to so many rapid changes.”

The Church’s 265th pope, the first German to fill the position in half a millennium and the oldest to take office at age 78, had appeared frail and exhausted in the last few months, seeming to fall asleep during Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s on Christmas Eve. Despite this evident decline in health, many viewed the pope’s unusual exit as a shock coming from such an orthodox figure. After all, the last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, in 1415 in the midst of the Great Schism. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict “took us by surprise,” and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti called the announcement “immense and unexpected.”

Elected in April 2005, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger earned a reputation as an unbending traditionalist. Surpassing even the conservatism of his predecessor John Paul II, he maintained the Church’s position on matters such as divorce and contraceptives, prompting criticism from progressives. Scandal, much of it centering around the issue of clerical child abuse, also rocked his papacy.

“As long as Benedict doesn’t influence the election of his successor, this change lets us move forward and gives the Church potential for taking steps in the right direction on progressive issues like contraception and gender equality,” says M-A senior Annie Altman-Merino, a Confirmed Catholic.

Indeed, Benedict’s decision to step down may constitute his most significant reform. By setting a limit on his own pontificate, Benedict may put in place a new precedent for his successors. For this reason some are judging the resignation one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the papacy and a revolutionary step for the Catholic Church.

 

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Comments

4 Responses to “Pope Resigns, Makes History”

  1. Dlahaye on February 12th, 2013 9:06 am

    I hope the next pope will not give in to this progressive junk like everyone was pushing him to do. Gosh.

  2. bwiener on February 12th, 2013 7:06 pm

    Seems like the pope is giving up being the pope for lent.

  3. Evan on February 13th, 2013 11:43 pm

    It is wise that he stepped down on behalf of his age. Leaders tend to be stronger when they are younger, in the mind perhaps, and have a critical understanding of what’s right and wrong. No doubt it was agood decision to step down, props to him.

  4. David Schmitt on February 18th, 2013 3:52 pm

    I wonder if there was a more severe, less obvious reason that he resigned… This seems to sudden to be merely an issue of age.