resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
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The news this morning tells of the announced resignation of Pope Benedict XVI effective at month’s end.
In truth, I am sorry to see him retire. Benedict XVI has been a vast improvement over his predecessor, John Paul II. Having read some of his writings, both as pope, and when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, it was clear that Benedict XVI was a man of honesty, and great knowledge and understanding. He even pointed to the need for humility on the part of the institutional church in some areas (such as the forgiveness of sins – it is God that forgives sins (not the Church) and the graces that flow from the sacraments come from God).
The fact that he is resigning due to health concerns demonstrates a greater honesty and humility than John Paul II ever showed (despite JP II’s kissing of the tarmac at various airstrips during his many, many globe-trotting travels). John Paul II would not let go the reins of power, and was appointing bishops from his deathbed in early 2005. In his writings, Benedict XVI says that during the conclave that elected him in 2005, he had hoped that the cardinals would select a younger man to be pope as he knew that it is a demanding position. Hopefully, during the next conclave to elect a pope, in March, the cardinals will select a man not in his 70s or 80s.
The last point I wish to make is that Benedict XVI has been unfairly maligned because of the Catholic Church’s priestly pedophile scandals. To be accurate, it was the bishops appointed by his 2 predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II, that allowed these terrible abuses to occur and continue for so many years. Cardinal Ratzinger, years ago (before he was pope Benedict XVI) from the Vatican took actions to get these abusive and offending priests out of the priesthood. He was doing this from the Vatican because the bishops throughout the US, Canada, and Europe (where the abuses occurred) were not taking any actions in this area. It is the bishops who have both the authority and the responsibility for their dioceses. As well, John Paul II was largely in a state of denial as to the reality and scale of the abuses. (In fact, sadly, John Paul was largely disconnected from reality in the last several years of his lengthy papacy.)
In one of my earliest essays, way, way back in June, 2012 (nearly 200 essays ago), I addressed the celibacy issue briefly. The church could solve 2 problems by easing up on this Augustinian obsession with celibacy. First, it would solve or cure its shortage of priests. Young men are not buying the “need” or the alleged “holiness” of celibacy. Many young men who wanted to become Catholic priests, but who did not feel called to celibacy, left the Catholic Church and became Protestant pastors and did marry. Second, I can think of no more effective means of ridding the seminaries and the ranks of the priesthood of homosexual pedophiles (recall that 90 per cent of the abused children were males) than by having them filled with heterosexual married men. Homosexual predators would flee that inhospitable environment pronto!
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