Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Monday, February 11, 2013

The First Time in Six Centuries



From the NYTimes:


"Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in six centuries."

"After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and on social media, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics. A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by clerical abuse scandals, Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II. "


"When he took office, Pope Benedict’s well-known stands included the assertion that Catholicism is “true” and other religions are “deficient”; that the modern, secular world, especially in Europe, is spiritually weak; and that Catholicism is in competition with Islam. He had also strongly opposed homosexuality, the ordination of female priests and stem cell research."




 
Many popes over the centuries have died in office.  It is puzzling why this one is resigning over poor health or even imminent death. That is quite unusual, and raises questions about scandal, something the Vatican is no stranger to.

The Daily Beast reported last summer:

Vatileaks Scandal Exposes Secrets Of Pope’s Empire 
Jul 9, 2012 1:00 AM EDT 
A series of leaks have exposed chaos at the heart of the Pope’s empire.


For centuries one of the tightest organizations in the world, with a code of honor to rival that of the Sicilian Mafia, it has been turned inside out in the past six months. A gusher of highly confidential letters to the pope and his closest associates, many of them originally in code, has poured into the Italian media and into a book, Sua Santità by Gianluigi Nuzzi, which became an instant bestseller. 

The leaks are just one in a string of scandals to rock the Vatican this year—the latest, in early June, involved the ouster of the head of the Vatican bank, who possessed documents that apparently showed the Church circumventing European money-laundering regulations. To combat the spate of bad publicity, the Vatican has gone as far as hiring a former Fox News reporter, who happens to be an Opus Dei numerary, to be one of its official PR flacks. But whether the pope and the Vatican establishment can recover their credibility is now a matter of serious doubt.

From the NYTimes:

"Benedict’s tenure was caught up in growing sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church that crept ever closer to the Vatican itself. In 2010, as outrage built over clerical abuses, some secular and liberal Catholic voices called for his resignation, their demands fueled by reports that laid part of the blame at his doorstep, citing his response both as a bishop long ago in Germany and as a cardinal heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles such cases. 

In one disclosure, news emerged that in 1985, when Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger, he signed a letter putting off efforts to defrock a convicted child-molesting priest. He cited the priest’s relative youth but also the good of the church." 



At this point, we can only speculate as to why this pope, the first in six centuries, has decided to abdicate the papacy rather than do as other popes have done in past centuries--pass away in office. Or perhaps the pope is just pooped.




27 comments:

Infidel753 said...

When he took office, Pope Benedict’s well-known stands included the assertion that Catholicism is “true” and other religions are “deficient”; that the modern, secular world, especially in Europe, is spiritually weak; and that Catholicism is in competition with Islam. He had also strongly opposed homosexuality, the ordination of female priests and stem cell research.

It's about time he retired. His ideas were mostly retired by the civilized world a couple of centuries ago.

Always On Watch said...

I'm not Roman Catholic.

That said, I'm guessing that Pope Benedict has not only become increasingly frail but also hammered hard by all the church-related scandals and all the falling away of membership/attendance in the Catholic Church.

Always On Watch said...

One more thing....I do find the choosing process interesting to watch -- clouds of smoke and all that. A sort of link to medieval history.

BB-Idaho said...

"A sort of link to medieval history." Indeed; the last Pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415, ending the multi-pope 'Great Schism'. Meanwhile, that year the
safe-conduct for Jan Huss was revoked and the Church burned him at the stake. Elsewhere, on St Crispin's Day that year, the battle of Agincourt took place.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Sorry about the mess that appeared here.

I'm back to comment moderation.

Troll must have been let out of his padded cell.

Sorry.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Elsewhere, on St Crispin's Day that year, the battle of Agincourt took place."

And Henry V beat the French, who outnumbered his forces.

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers."

(If I remember that correctly.)

Anonymous said...

I look forward to the day when the appointment of a new Pope is no more newsworthy than having it snow in Minnesota, in January.
ORAXX

Shaw Kenawe said...

Alternet, A.M. Stan: "Benedict's action comes just weeks after he opened his celebrated Twitter account -- and less than a month after the decades-old child abuse scandal drew nearer to the pope's door, with revelations published in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that Cardinal Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, sought to evade the law in cases involving the sexual abuse of children by the priests in his charge by sending them to treatment facilities in states that did not require health professionals to report the crimes to authorities.

At the time that Mahony was covering up the crimes of his priests, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that oversaw such matters.

In archdiocese documents released under a court order earlier this month, Mahony is revealed to have taken actions deliberately contrived to avoid legal prosecution of priests who had sexually abused, and even raped, children. The documents were so damaging that Mahony, now retired and once thought to be a contender for the papacy, was publicly rebuked by the current Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and stripped of any public duties, an unprecedented censure of a cardinal archbishop by his successor.

Amid the cache of church records, released as part of a settlement between the archdiocese and 500 sex-abuse victims, are several letters to Ratzinger from Mahoney, in which the California prelate reports to the Vatican his reasons for various actions (such as defrocking) taken against the offending priests. The records amount to some 30,000 pages, so their full contents have yet to be pored through by investigators and journalists.

What is clear, though, is that Mahony repeatedly failed to act on concerns about the sexual abuse of children by priests that brought to him by pastors and church officials throughout the diocese, and that when he did, his actions were designed to avoid criminal prosecutions of the predator priests. And it is also clear that in his Vatican office, Ratzinger was the recipient of letters from Mahony informing the Holy See of what actions he had taken."

Total evil. The organization that is the RCC protected criminals who raped children because they were more concerned with the Church's reputation than the children. This is the same organization that is against all forms of contraception, except abstinence.

They are totally crazy. And evil. IMHO.

Curious said...

As a non-Catholic I've always thought that the Pope was believed to be God's representative on earth. It was God's decision to have the Pope elected and it would be God's decision to say that enough was enough. He would call up his man to wherever one goes to when one dies and the whole process of electing another Pope and running the Church would start over again. So if instead the Pope decides for himself when he is tired and his tenure is up, then when or where does God come into things? And if God doesn't belong there, then where else should he, or at least the beliefs of him, not be involved with?

Infidel753 said...

If an organization which systematically protects and facilitates child-raping is not evil, then it would be difficult to imagine what is evil.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Curious,

I understand that there is an escape clause in the pope's contract to be the head of the Catholic Church and God's emissary on earth that says he can abdicate if he becomes too feeble to carry out his duties. Apparently God dictated that clause when he wrote up the employment contract--just after he blew the white smoke up the, er, chimney...

Shaw Kenawe said...

Infidel753,

Raping children and covering up the crime...that is a definition of evil. And yet, because this organization claims to be God's institution, people stay with it. It defies rationality.

What sort of people can support an organization that protected child rapists?

BB-Idaho said...

Sic transit servus servorum Dei...

Anonymous said...

I will miss this pope.

Infidel753 said...

Anonymous: I will miss this pope.

Maybe we can get a Voldemort look-alike for the next one.

Infidel753 said...

BB-Idaho -- Sic transit pervertissumus molestor altarboyorum.

Ducky's here said...

I am heartened by the news.

I still call myself Roman Catholic but, frankly, only because I hope I can return to the church one day.
Right now the Church has relinquished any value as a moral leader and it is time for the pope to admit the Church was in error.
Not to say it was a few criminal priests. No, the Church was as an institution was at fault and must admit it.

Stop the homophobia.
Drop the prohibition on birth control.
Admit the Church's grave sin in the pedophile scandal.

If we had a Pope who might be capable of that type of change I could return. But I am not optimistic.

Rational Nation USA said...

Now that the Pope has been thoroughly taken to task if not directly certainly indirectly, perhaps we can let the frail man reflect and come to terms with the Churches transgressions and his own failed leadership position(s).

Perhaps his resignation will ultimately be a positive event for the Church. Most assuredly ot will be of it leads to changes that Ducky touched upon.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I don't think that sort of change will come in our lifetime.

Remember this is the organization that went against its own findings on birth control during Paul VI's papacy and stuck with the old man made prohibition against artificial birth control.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Meanwhile, this is funny.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Oh, one more.

Always On Watch said...

Raping children and covering up the crime...that is a definition of evil. And yet, because this organization claims to be God's institution, people stay with it.

Again, I emphasize that I am not Roman Catholic.

But I must say the following....

I know several Roman Catholics who left the church over some of the sex scandals.

Also, if we're going to hold accountable for malfeasance (evil) on the administrative level every member in the Catholic Church, then we must hold accountable every Democrat for that malfeasance (evil) within the leadership of the Democratic Party (Think Menendez here, but I could name several others).

Shaw Kenawe said...

The difference is that the pedophile scandal has been going on for decades, maybe centuries. And the Church has tolerated it for as long, to the point of moving priest around parishes all over the world so that they could injure more children and preserve the Church's reputation.

The individual members of Congress who commit felons and are convicted are routed out and forced to resign. They do not continue in leadership roles in the Democratic Party.

Individual Catholics contribute much; it's the organization and the higher ups who have done a terrible job of dealing with this sickening scandal.

IMO, the RCC, as an organization, has no moral authority.

BB-Idaho said...

The Onion has a touching summary
of Ratzinger's papal career.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to the day when the appointment of a new Pope is no more newsworthy than a cold, January day, in Fairbanks.

ORAXX

KP said...

This thread of comments is devoid of spirituality.

Always On Watch said...

Shaw,
The individual members of Congress who commit felons and are convicted are routed out and forced to resign. They do not continue in leadership roles in the Democratic Party.

Really?

There's legal stealing and illegal stealing -- both sides of the aisle.

IMO, the RCC, as an organization, has no moral authority.

Martin Luther would have agreed with that statement. So would most Protestants.