Pope Benedict XVI delivered his last Sunday blessing at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican before he officially resigns as leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Thursday.
"This doesn't mean abandoning the church," the pontiff told the cheering crowd on Sunday. "On the contrary, if God asks me, this is because I can continue to serve – with the same dedication and the same love which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suitable to my age and to my strength."
Vatican officials recently denied reports linking Benedict's decision to step down to the growing sex abuse scandal the church has been involved in over the past decade. Some online reports claimed that the pontiff was resigning because of legal action being taken against him over his alleged involvement in the church's priest sex abuse scandal. more >>
As Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to soon step down, a recently released poll indicates that Catholics in America are almost equally divided over what direction the Roman Catholic Church should take.
In a report by the Pew Research Center released Thursday, 46 percent of Catholics surveyed believed the Church should "move in new directions," while 51 percent believed the Church should "maintain traditional positions."
Other findings included 74 percent of Catholics holding a favorable opinion of Pope Benedict XVI, 60 percent of Catholics wanting a Pope from the developing world, and 58 percent of Catholics in favor of priests being allowed to marry. more >>
A rumor swirling around online claims that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down because of legal action being taken against him over his alleged involvement in the Roman Catholic Church's priest sex abuse scandal.
Addicting Info, a left-wing website devoted to debunking right-wing ideas, posted a story last Thursday claiming that there was an arrest warrant from an unknown European country.
"…the Pope, whose given name is Joseph Ratzinger, has a meeting with the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano on February 23 to beg for immunity against prosecution for allegations of child sex crimes," wrote Shannon Barber of Addicting Info. more >>
An American cardinal has told local media that he believes the pending decision to elect a new pope should not be a hasty one.
Francis Cardinal George of Chicago explained Sunday that time for consideration is of great importance in the decision-making rather than getting a new pope as soon as possible.
"You take the time needed to make a good decision … We will go into conclave when collectively the cardinals decide that we have [had] the conversations necessary to make a good decision," said George, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. more >>
A top Roman Catholic Cardinal has revealed that the successor of Pope Benedict XVI could possibly come from Latin America or Africa, which would be the first time in over a millennium that a non-European man has been chosen to take St. Peter's seat.
"The challenges of the Church in the world are very different on different continents: in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. The question is 'where will the challenges be greater, on which continent, should it be a pope for, above all, Latin America, for Africa," Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch told Reuters. Koch, 62, has been a close aide of Pope Benedict XVI, and will be one of the 117 cardinals this March who will vote in secret for a new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
"I can imagine taking a step towards a black pope, an African pope or a Latin American pope. I can imagine this," Koch added of the various options available to the Church. The Cardinal added that he always knew Benedict, 85, would step down when he felt he could no longer lead the Church to the best of his abilities, and hinted that future popes might be inclined to the same. more >>
The media, of course, is calling it a resignation. But it not so much a resignation of a political office as it is a renunciation. The 85-year old pontiff's decision to renounce the power and prestige of the papal office is so unexpected, almost unprecedented, as to take the world by surprise.
Of course, we Americans of all people can understand what thoughts must have coursed through Pope Benedict XVI's mind as he prayed about this weighty decision. We saw this kind of renunciation with our first president, George Washington. He did not leave the presidency before his second term expired, true, but he renounced all further exercise of power on March 4, 1797. It was then he strode out of the Senate chamber in Philadelphia. He purposely prodded President John Adams and Vice President Thomas Jefferson, the new nation's elected leaders and Washington's own successors, to go before him. He knew the importance of symbolism. King George III had once been George Washington's bitterest enemy. He said if Washington renounces his power, he truly will be the greatest man in the world. He did. He was.
Pope Benedict XVI knows that however insistent the world is, however menacing its foes are, the Church of Jesus Christ will stand forever. This Pope has not tried to keep up with the times. Or the Times. Too many church bodies today are desperate to be thought modern. Some are indifferent to the lives of the unborn. It's as if they missed that story about Herod and the Innocents. Or, those synods and conventions that breathlessly ponder whether or not to take the plunge and declare that marriage between persons of the same sex is the new revelation. It's an insight that the most serious Bible scholars for two thousand years somehow managed to overlook. And we can view with sorrow those religious bodies that solemnly declare that affordable health care for all is so important that it's worth trammeling freedom of religion in order to mandate it. more >>