Benedict Rightly Abdicates from Papacy, Church Faces Scandals


Pope Benedict gives his final retirement speech in front of the Vatican on Feb. 10.

Claire Marvin, Staff Writer

At the ripe old age of 85, Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to have willingly resigned from office in over 600 years. A lot can happen in 600 years. Entire civilizations have risen and crumbled in far less time. So the question is, after all these years of popes traditionally serving until death, is it sinful for the most holy and highest ranked official in all of Catholicism to step down from his duty?

While this news shocked avid churchgoers and atheists alike, the pope’s retirement is fitting and rather unsurprising considering the circumstances. There really isn’t any precedent as to what to call or how to treat an ex-pope, but if he doesn’t feel up to the job anymore he shouldn’t keep the responsibility and just wait it out until he dies.  In his retirement announcement on Feb. 10 the pope himself admitted that he was no longer fit for the job.

Pope Benedict XVI currently holds one of the shortest reigns ever recorded at seven years, 10 months and three days. During this time, the Catholic Church was hit hard by scandals, the most prominent of which involved continued claims that priests around the world had sexually abused young boys. Even just a few weeks ago, Cardinal Keith O’Brien admitted that he had “fallen below the standards expected of [him]” when confronted about his sexual abuse charges. The Congregation Doctrine for Faith, a sub-branch of the Vatican Council, will likely head an investigation against O’Brien once the new pope is chosen.

Other scandals included the pope’s controversial Nazi past. He was born during the Nazi reign in Germany, and while none of his immediate family members ever joined the Nazi party, he did join the Hitler Youth in 1941 along with virtually all other German boys. He claims that this had no impact on his reign as pope.

In the coming weeks, 113 cardinals from around the world will meet in Vatican City to decide the new pope. Whoever the lucky appointee is, he will need to have no shortage of stamina or leadership skills in order to pull the Catholic Church out of its proverbial and seemingly perennial rut.