In an Unexpected Turn from Tradition, Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

In an Unexpected Turn from Tradition, Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

Carlos Villamayor, Editor in Chief

On Mon Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI surprised believers and non-believers alike when he announced his resignation from the papacy effective at the end of this month.

In his declaration, the pope alluded to his deteriorated physical strength as “no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Voices around the world have praised the pontiff’s decision as one of great humility.

“It was a very wise decision,” said campus chaplain Sister Susan Becker, “the Church faces many struggles, I can’t imagine a 85-year-old pope in charge of it.” Religious studies professor Dr. Lawrence Hundersmarck called Benedict XVI’s decision a “profoundly humble act.”

“The news of the pope’s resignation was surprising,” said sophomore biochemistry major Sania Azhar, “Although we come from different religious backgrounds, we have common beliefs. It was shocking.”

“Whatever is wrong with the pope, he could probably live with it, but he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his duties,” commented freshman marketing major Kathleen Hachmeyer.

“Despite the separation of Church and State, the role of the pope is still a prominent one for Catholics,” she added.

Benedict XVI’s papacy was not without scandals and misunderstandings. He continuously had to deal with the exposure of old and not so old heinous cases of child abuse by priests and poor management of said cases by the local dioceses, mainly in Ireland, the United States, and his native Germany. In 2010, the media misinterpreted the pontiff as having condoned the use of condoms, when in reality he acknowledged the use of condoms by male prostitutes with HIV as a first step towards morality.

During the second half of 2012 the pope was again surrounded by scandal, this time when his butler was found guilty of stealing several private documents.

Even since his time as cardinal, the pope was known for his staunch defense of catholic orthodoxy. He spoke against the “dictatorship of relativism” and its dangerous consequences for civilization. He also published three volumes centered on the figure of Jesus Christ.

In this third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), he addressed present economic and social issues such as immigration and the economy, as well as humanity’s duty towards nature.

According to Dr. Hundersmarck, Benedict XVI’s legacy is contained in his theological writings, “Ratzinger focused on the question of how faith and reason can complement each other, instead of being in opposition.

He had genuine self-knowledge and awareness of the problems of the modern Church, and because of his love of the Church he thought the best thing to do was to resign. Maybe he finally realized that what the Church really needed is someone to pray for her,” Dr. Hundersmarck said.

The papal throne will become vacant on Feb. 28, at 8:00 p.m., and the conclave that shall choose the next pope is set to begin mid-March.