On the Flip Side
Respect the Pope's Decision ; Resigning Causes Conflict
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 23:02
Respect the Pope's Decision
by Kelly Coleman
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was a good move. Many sources cite that the Pope felt he was not healthy enough to continue his papal duties sufficiently. When in a position such as his, when a large body of people rely on your every word with unshakable faith, you must be sure that you yourself are confident in the words you preach. If Benedict allowed himself to continue his usual duties as the Pope even though he felt he was no longer fit for the job, he would be doing the entire Catholic Church a disservice.
There is no rule or law against the resignation of a pope—it was done 600 years ago by Pope Gregory XII. We actually should admire Benedict’s courage in stepping down. He was strong enough to admit that he was no longer strong enough. Another little detail to note is about a different rule within the papacy: cardinals, who elect new Popes, must be under the age of 80. Doesn’t it seem a little strange that the people who elect a leader must be under a certain age, but that elected leader can have his body and mind wither away as he makes some of the most important decisions for an entire faith?
We have all seen the hilarious tweets about this news such as, “For Lent, the Pope gave up...” Although the irony of this comment is humorous, we must review what Lent is. It is a 40-day period in which we are supposed to make a sacrifice in order to gain an appreciation for the suffering Jesus Christ endured wandering the desert for 40 days and nights. So maybe the Pope did give up the papacy for Lent (partially kidding, but you get the idea). Even so, it must have been a sacrifice, but it was a sacrifice necessary for the safety of the Church.
According to the Huffington Post, Benedict, before elected to the papacy after the death of Pope John Paul II, had apparently been “planning on retiring…to spend his final years writing in the ‘peace and quiet’ of his native Bavaria.” Benedict stepped up to the plate even when he had no intention of doing so.
He is a smart enough man, however, to recognize when enough is enough and that his resignation is directly for the benefit of the Church that he loves.
Resigning Causes Conflict
by Maggie Maretz
Pope Benedict XVI somewhat ironically told his temporary successor, Reverend Federico Lombardi, that the decision was not out of concern for his health, but instead was “spiritual.” Of course, this presents the contradiction that lies in the fact that, traditionally, the commitment that carries the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church through the papacy until the end of their lives is a spiritual one. There can be no denying that Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy was not flawless—he was reluctant to accept the position in the first place, presided over the scandal involving the molestation of children by Catholic priests, and his extremely conservative stances on issues like a woman’s right to become a priest and the use of condoms to prevent AIDS were met with great opposition. But as a leader of 1.2 billion devoted religious followers, the last thing this man should be doing is stepping down.
He disappoints his religious community by declining to be accountable for the commitment he made to so many, and attracts the attention of the non-Catholic world as well, who are equally shocked at the decision.
Moreover, many fear the possibility of what is known as a “schism,” which is a conflict of allegiance between the two living popes that will coexist in the Catholic community, especially in the case that the newly elected Pope differs ideologically from the staunch conservative that preceded him. In the past, Pope John Paul II declined to resign even after he endured multiple assassination attempts as well as bouts with cancer. He feared that the Roman Catholic Church would be troubled by the existence of a living “ex-pope” while another reigned.
It seems that this fear will in fact become a reality as liberals call for a more modern, youthful pope who is open to reform. Leading the crusade is the Women’s Ordinance Conference, who is pushing for the female right to become a priest, which they were never given during Benedict’s time as head of the church. By resigning, he not only shied from the responsibility as leader, but also invited conflict into the Catholic Church between conservatives who will continue to support him and liberals who will support what may be a forward-thinking replacement.