On Monday, Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI announced his intent to resign from the papacy because of his advanced age. The Holy Pontiff is 85 years old and feels that he is too weak, physically, to carry out the duties of the position. On Feb. 28 at 8:00 p.m. (Rome time) he will officially step down.
The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 -- nearly 600 years ago.
The pope has a tough job. The past few years have been especially stressful for the Roman Catholic Church and the pope. On top of the sex abuse scandals, there is this tension between preserving tradition and fostering progress that the Holy Pontiff must grapple with every day. For someone who is getting up in years, it can be very taxing.
According to Canon law, a resignation must be made freely and properly manifested. The resigning pope must also be of sound mind. I have mixed feelings about Pope Benedict’s resignation, but if he feels it is his duty to the Church to step down, who am I to argue with the pope?
This announcement, however, has caused quite the stir in the Catholic community and society abroad. Even our GoComics cartoonists are contributing to the conversation.
A new pope is to be elected and in place by Easter. I am eager to see who fills the position and if he can handle the immense pressures and expectations of the job.