Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Roman Catholic Church — and the rest of the world — with his announcement today that he will resign from his papal position at the end of this month, reports Reuters. In an announcement to the cardinals, the Pope proclaimed, “Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St Peter…”
The 85-year-old has decided that he no longer has the physical or mental strength to run the Catholic Church through a period of major crisis — the best known issue being that of child sexual abuse claims against leaders within the Church.
While it is responsible for the Pope to acknowledge his limitations, the Church is rightfully concerned for the message of uncertainty and instability that is being sent to its followers. As of right now, the Church is hoping to have a new Pope elected to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics by Palm Sunday on March 24.
Obviously, Pope Benedict is not just stepping down from any old job. Some people believe he’s making a terrible decision, however there are those, like Joseph Curran, professor of religious studies at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania, who support his action. “His resignation is a tremendous act of humility and generosity,” Curran told Reuters. “A man who lives up a position of authority because he can no longer adequately exercise that authority, and does so for the good of the Church, is setting a wonderful example.”
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