Pope Benedict XVI announces his retirement, emphasizing need for change
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) – The Catholic News Agency, CNA, today informs that Pope Benedict XVI will step down from his office on 28 February. Benedict XVI, who is the first Pope since medieval times to abdicate as “Vicar of Christ” mentions old age, deteriorating health and the need for reform in the Catholic Church as reasons for making the unusual decision.
In a speech to his peers today, the Pope stated, that he had examined his conscience before God, and come to certainty about, that his strength, due to advanced age, is no longer suitable to exercise the ministry. Benedict XVI stated, that he knows that the spiritual aspects of the papal office includes the aspect of suffering and prayer.
“However” he continued, ” in today´s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary”.
Benedict declared, that he will renounce his offices as of 28 February at 20:00 hours local time. Where after, a Conclave will elect a new Pope.
The words of Pope Benedict could hardly have been chosen more wisely, as the catholic church is facing deep systemic problems which it, according to many of its critics has failed to address, and which is has systematically covered up. The church is also widely criticized for its apparent incapacity to address many, pressing modern problems.
One of the core issues in the criticism of the catholic church countless sex scandals, such as the Boys´Town sex scandal. Investigations into the scandal, evidence and witness testimony strongly indicated, that members of the church have been involved in the systematic sexual abuse of minors entrusted to the church. The Boys´Town scandal and the systematic sexual abuse of boys and girls as prostitutes for politicians and celebrities, reached all the way into the offices of the White House. Countless other cases of sexual abuse of minors were covere up by moving priests from diocese to diocese.
The catholic church maintains that using prevention to avoid unwanted pregnancy is a sin, and the church bans the use of condoms. With HIV/AIDS epidemics rampant in many of the countries where the catholic church has a strong influence over the behavior of large segments of the population, the church has been criticized for being the direct cause to the continued spread of HIV/AIDS.
Whether electing a new and maybe a younger pope can help at bringing about those reforms, which many catholics demand from their church is questionable.