Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pope's Abdication

Some popes are loveable; many are not.  The late Pope John Paul seemed to be nice and had a progressive side to him.  Pope Benedict seemed to be a staunch reactionary who was trying to reverse any positive steps that had taken place.  And most of what he did fit into that framework.

So yesterday he totally surprises everyone, except for the chosen few in Vatican circles, by this intent to resign or abdicate.  Now this is something that a pope did not do since the 1400's.  It just proves that there are surprises now and then.

In his own way, Pope Benedict XVI caused a possible revolution in the Catholic Church: he re-set a precedent that a pope could resign, whether it be because he was physically or otherwise impaired, or he didn't have his heart in the job, or whatever.  Now it's not a good idea for positions of awesome influence and responsibility being filled by ancients; but this was a trap that the Catholic Church had been in.  Consider this:  If they elect only old guys as pope, and a pope is elected for life, then it's a certainty that some part of many papalships will have a guy in it that's too old for the job.

This is a big, first step.  What next?

Term limits for popes?

A woman being elected pope?

A vice-pope in addition to a pope?

These are interesting times.


  1. He was just ducking a lot of blame for the mess in the church.

  2. I hope some good comes out of this in the form of a pope that is more in touch with the real world.

  3. A woman for Pope? I think you're asking the Roman Catholic church for way too much. Maybe in another thousand years or more.

  4. Duck makes a good point. Benedict was a brilliant theological scholar, but - as we see in all religious traditions - a complete knowledge of every aspect of the religious texts doesn't necessarily help develop an understanding of the problems and issues of Real People trying to survive an imperfect world. I think we need another John XXIII, but I'm not sure there's one out there.