Papal resignation stuns faithful, stirs concerns of Church’s future
(UPDATED: 2/12/13) “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,” the New York Times reported.
Now questions shift to a successor. While it’s not yet known who that will be, whoever is chosen is expected to have similar views as the conservative Benedict.
“As nearly all of the cardinals eligible to vote were appointed by the current pope or his predecessor, John Paul II, it is likely that the next pope will share strong continuity in terms of vision and doctrine,” according to the newspaper.
The next pope also has a better chance of being non-white, hailing from Africa or Asia.
Click here for reaction from Catholics.
Click here for information on the last pope to resign — nearly 600 years ago.
Click here to read about how Vatican operations “screech to a halt” amid word of the pope’s resignation.
Can a pope even resign? Yes, says Thomas Reese.
Will this mean the “most interesting conclave” in 200 years?
Click here for a timeline on this pope.
Here’s the pope’s actual written resignation.
Here’s a statement from Chicago Cardinal Francis George, leader of the 2.3 million Catholics in Cook and Lake counties who reportedly was caught “off guard” by the resignation and will participate in the selection of the new pontiff:
“Pope Benedict XVI has, in all circumstances, placed the will of God for the good of the Church before every other consideration. That same resoluteness of purpose speaks in his statement announcing his resignation from the Chair of Peter.
“He has taught with clarity and charity what God has revealed to the world in Christ; he has handed on the apostolic faith; he has loved all of God’s people with all his heart. He has now shown great courage in deciding, after prayer and soul-searching, to resign his office at the end of this month.
“With the gratitude of sons and daughters in our hearts, we ask the Lord to bless him and give him strength, as we begin to pray now for the one who will succeed him as Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.”
But Benedict’s legacy likely will be more mixed.
Jim FitzGerald of the Catholic reform group Call to Action had this to say in an email statement:
“History is in the making as we learn of the Pope’s resignation today. His bold decision to step down because of his deteriorating health is one rarely made by popes over the last centuries. I admire his courageous decision to part with recent precedent in order to do what is right for the church.
“As you and I both know, however, he has not been equally bold on addressing various other critical issues in our church: sex abuse, women, lgbt people, to name a few.
“I am united in prayer with you today for both Pope Benedict XVI and the process that will lead to the next pope. My hope is that the Spirit will usher in someone willing to ensure the love of Christ is what guides our church into the future.”
Here’s more from Call to Action.
Benedict plans to retire to a “former cloistered monastery” at the Vatican.