Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope of the Catholic Church, retired on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, after serving the church as pope for almost seven years. Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, stated that he believed his physical and mental limitations prevented him from effectively fulfilling the role of pope and that allowing a new, younger pope to reign would be for the betterment of the church.
“Pope Benedict had a lot of thought and prayer going into this decision,” said St. Paul’s Religion Teacher Robert Simpson. “Though it was a hard decision, in the end I believe he made a smart choice given the circumstances.”
Benedict XVI’s resignation from the important church position was unexpected to many Catholics and lay people alike, as this was the first time in 800 years that a pope willfully resigned from the papacy. However, it is known that Pope Benedict XVI had been planning to resign from his church duties long before becoming the pope. However, at the request of the preceding Pope John Paul II, he remained an active member of the clergy.
“What many people do not realize is that Pope Benedict took a long time to formulate this decision,” said Simpson. “It took years of prayer and a visit to the tomb of the last pope to resign for Pope Benedict to reach his verdict.”
There have been many rumors circulating the resignation of the pope in the media, ranging from reasons due to the recent scandals involving church priests and children to a secret conclave hidden within the church controlling the pope’s decisions from behind the scenes. “All these rumors surrounding the resignation are wildly fantastical,” said Simpson.
Simpson added, “even if one of these scandals was remotely true, scandal or not, the church would still be the infallible institution founded by Jesus. There have always been sinful people among the church who have tried to corrupt it, the most famous being Judas, one of the 12 Apostles. However, the church will always be the church, no matter how sinful one may be within it.”
Benedict XVI will still retain his chosen papal name and the title “his holiness.” While he will cease being called Pope Benedict XVI, he has attained the official title of “Pope Emeritus,” simply Latin for retired pope. Even though he will not perform papal duties anymore, many Christians believe Benedict XVI will remain active in his church duties and prayer life. No matter what the case, Benedict XVI is and will always be an influential individual for his actions not only in his role within the church, but in worldly affairs.
(Photo credit: ©L’Osservator Romano, Vatican.va)