Early Monday morning, several reports confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) planned to resign at the end of February, citing "old age and his ailing health." Just short of eight-years of service, Benedict startled most with this announcement because as we all know Pope's don't resign, especially not for the reasons that Benedict is citing. Pope's are called to serve and die on the papacy. The Pope is not only the head of the Roman Catholic Church, but he also serves as Head of State, over Vatican City. Taking all of this into consideration, this is a pretty big deal. The election of the next Pope can either rejuvenate the church (the way Pope John Paul II was leading prior to his death) or take the church down a path of further alienation and condemnation of non-Catholics, and Catholics who don't abide by the archaic philosophy of the church, that Benedict seemed to be so stuck on.
Pope Benedict was the absolute worst choice to succeed Pope John Paul II. Not only was he openly conservative in his values and philosophy, he had a twisted approach to dealing with sex abuse scandals within the church....
A common practice in the Catholic Church, which i'm pretty sure still exists today, was the reassignment of priests who were accused of sexual misconduct. An institution so deeply rooted in punishing all others for sexual conduct that they don't agree with, were so quick to turn the blind eye on their own.
I attended a catholic school in upstate New York that was rattled by the most insane sex abuse scandal. Why was it insane? Because it was totally preventable. The young priest assigned to my parish (whom I interacted with quite a bit in the classroom) was brought there after he was accused of screening pornographic materials to under age alter boys, at his last parish. That was tell tale sign that this was not a good person, and he was not someone who could be trusted to interact with youths in an appropriate manner. Instead of throwing this scum out of the church, he was transferred to another parish where he went on to sexually assault another young alter boy. You think it ended there? Nope! He was transferred to another parish, and he offended again.
Prior to his papal election, Pope Benedict served as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, commonly referred to as the CDF. From 1981 to 2005 he held this post. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is "supreme authority" on doctrine of the Catholic Church. Think of it as President Obama and Congress. President Obama is the head of state (The Pope) and Congress (CDF) writes laws and is suppose to give us answers laws (i.e hearings). Using the House of Representatives as an example, John Boehner - Speaker of the House; Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict), Head of the CDF. The CDF was in charge of handling the sexual abuse scandals across the church. So Benedict knew about the practice of shuffling, and did nothing to stop it. He also encouraged these cases to be handled by the church, excluding law enforcement. For every few of these cases that justice was sought in the eyes of the law, many were swept under the rug. On the strength of his involvement, many felt that Benedict should have been impeached from the papacy, or never selected in the first place.
That's not all though. Covering up sex abuse withing the church wasn't his only vice. Pope Benedict was the epitome of ignorance and the antithesis of the teachings of Christianity. He declared that Islam was a treat to the church, advocated against the use of condoms to combat the global AIDS crisis, and used a Christmas Mass to express his hatred for gay people. I could go on for days, but I'll spare you and only say - I couldn't be happier to see this guy go! However, I am not naive and know that the church will replace him with someone even more conservative and archaic.
What are your thoughts....
Are you surprised by this resignation?
Do you believe that ailing health and old age are Pope Benedict's true reasons for stepping down?
Will the church seek to rejuvenate and modernize the church in this next papal election, or will they double down on its current philosophy?