Pope Benedict’s resignation surprises Catholics everywhere

By Jordan Weiker
Campus Life Assistant Editor
In a surprising move in early February, Pope Benedict XVI an¬nounced that he would be resign¬ing as the pope effective Feb. 28. Benedict’s decision to resign will make him the first pope to resign in over 600 years.
After seven years as pope, Bene¬dict cited declining health as his reason for resignation, saying in part that “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no lon¬ger suited to an adequate exercise,” according to the New York Times.
Despite Benedict quoting health concerns as his reason for resigning, conspiracy theories about forced resignation have already appeared, and some people are calling Bene¬dict’s decision to resign un-Catho-lic.
For some Catholics, the traditional belief is that the pope is ordained by God. The pope is expected, then, to serve until death; resignation from God’s intended work is con¬sidered blasphemous.
“My opinion would be that the pope’s resignation is not un-Catho¬lic,” said Emily Dykman, assistant professor of religious studies. “It is a sign of authentic leadership to know when it is best for another to step into the role of leadership. He has been clear that the decision was made after extensive prayer and reflection.”
“The pope will continue to work through God even without being pope,” Dykman said. “Paragraph 10 of Lumen Gentium, the Dog¬matic Constitution of the Catho¬lic Church, states the following: ‘Therefore all the disciples of Christ [lay and clergy], persevering in prayer and praising God, should present themselves as a living sacri¬fice, holy and pleasing to God.’ All the faithful are called to live guided by God. The Pope, through ordina¬tion and installation has a particular leadership role within the context of the universal church. His stepping down from that role does not in any way negate his living out of God’s will and his vocation.”
Benedict’s resignation date also has benn receiving a great deal of attention since Holy Week, perhaps the most significant period for the Church every year, is approaching quickly. Holy Week begins March 24 and ends on March 31 with Eas¬ter Sunday.
“The Church’s current rules say that a conclave to elect a new pope must convene no less than 15 to 20 days after the prior pope leaves office,” according to the Huffing¬ton Post. This means the earliest a conclave could begin is March 15. “Given that installation masses are traditionally celebrated on Sun-days, the new pope would need to be installed by March 17 in order to be in office for Holy Week.”
“It is odd to think that there might be no pope celebrating the Triduum at the Vatican,” Dykman said. “It would be my hope, though, that the conclave does not rush to a decision because of this feast day.”
Benedict, according to the Vati¬can’s official website, was born as Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927.
“His youthful years were not easy. His faith and the education received at home prepared him for the harsh experience of those years during which the Nazi regime pur¬sued a hostile attitude towards the Catholic Church. The young Joseph saw how some Nazis beat the Par¬ish Priest before the celebration of Mass.”
It was during the times of World War II that Benedict discovered his true faith in Christ, and he later received his priestly ordination in 1951. He became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

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