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  1. #11
    Benedict XVI leaves the papacy much as he found it

    By Editorial Board, Feb 11, 2013 09:06 PM EST

    The Washington Post

    Tuesday, February 12, 5:06 AM

    IN EIGHT years as pope, Benedict XVI’s boldest act may have been his last one. His planned abdication at the end of this month, which took the world and most of the Catholic Church by surprise, would be the first by a pope in nearly 600 years. Though the Vatican said he was not suffering from any life-threatening ailment, the 85-year-old pontiff concluded that he lacked the “strength of mind and body” to carry out his ministry in a world “subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.”

    The hallmark of Pope Benedict’s tenure, for better or for worse, was fierce resistance to those changes. He rejected calls by Catholic progressives for reconsideration of doctrines such as celibacy and the ban on women in the priesthood; at a time when acceptance of the rights of gays and lesbians is rapidly spreading across the world, he was outspoken in condemning homosexuality as “unnatural” and unacceptable. With sectarian tension growing in Europe as well as the Middle East, he eschewed dialogue with Muslims and infuriated many by quoting a condemnation of Islamic theology as “evil and inhuman.”

    The pope presided over a faith whose demographic center of gravity has shifted to Latin America, Africa and Asia, yet he chose to focus his ministry on an attempt to revive Catholicism in Europe, including its most conservative elements. By some important measures, he failed. Church membership continued to decline even in Germany, his native country and the site of his best-received tour. In the developing world, once-growing Catholic churches lost ground to other faiths.

    Pope Benedict’s response to the greatest challenge he faced — the explosion of sexual-abuse scandals in Catholic dioceses around the world — was inadequate. During his visit to the United States in 2008, he met with victims of predatory priests; he later apologized for the crimes and oversaw modest Vatican measures to extend the statute of limitation for cases and prevent further abuse. But the pope never acted against bishops who covered up crimes, and he never admitted or apologized for his own failures during the years when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he headed up the Vatican body charged with disciplining priests.

    Some of Pope Benedict’s most important achievements came in response to the backlash triggered by his reactionary acts. Pilloried for having suggested before a tour of AIDS-stricken Africa that the use of condoms “increases the problem,” he later suggested that the use of a condom by an HIV-infected person to avoid infecting a partner could be a positive step. After angering Jews by rehabilitating a bishop known as a Holocaust denier, the pope prayed at Auschwitz and published a book exonerating the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.

    Pope Benedict will leave behind a church facing the same debilitating problems that loomed after the death of Pope John Paul II — above all, how to remain relevant to an increasingly secular world and to its own changing membership. This pope’s response was to insist that only uncompromising adherence to past doctrine could preserve the faith. Catholics who seek a different answer will have to hope that a college of cardinals dominated by the pope’s appointees will choose a more progressive successor.

  2. #12
    When the pope was powerful, and why that changed

    Posted by Max Fisher on February 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    It’s difficult to pinpoint a precise moment when the office of the pope began to lose its vast political power, which had long placed the Holy See above even the kings and emperors of Europe, but has since declined to the point that now-retiring Pope Benedict XVI found few political accomplishments in his reign. But one day that stands out is Dec. 2, 1804.

    A few weeks earlier, French voters had overwhelmingly approved a referendum elevating Napoleon Bonaparte from first consul to emperor, the beginning of the end of France’s democratic revolution. His coronation was to proceed in the manner of all Catholic monarchs, who still ruled most of Europe: he would kneel before the pope, then Pius VII, to receive a crown and blessing. The symbolism of the coronation reflected centuries of European political tradition, in which the Catholic church formally conferred royalty with the divine blessing that was thought necessary to rule; the church, in its power, had at times competed openly with those same monarchs.

    But when Napoleon marched up the altar of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, he did not kneel before Pope Pius VII as the French monarchs before him had done and as Pius surely expected. As Pius raised the crown, Napoleon instead turned to face the onlookers in the pews, snatched the crown out the pope’s hands and placed it on his own head. In Jacques Louis David’s famous painting of the incident, completed four years later, Pius stands sullenly back, watching as Napoleon crowns his wife queen.

    Napoleon’s coronation did not on its own end the pope’s influence over world politics, but it symbolized that decline after centuries of vast papal authority over Europe. When the Roman Empire fell, the Catholic church remained as close as Europe had to a pan-continental institution; the church had legitimacy and grassroots support, not to mention vast financial resources.

    European governments, as they grew from city-states to nations, developed a sort of symbiotic relationship with the church, relying on it for support and fearing its power to support opposing leaders. When Pope Urban II called on European leaders to rally for the crusades, he both confirmed and entrenched the Vatican’s power over political leaders, even in matters of war. Though the pope’s powers declined when European monarchs became powerful enough to challenge him, at one point hosting a second and more corruptible pope in France, the protestant reformation rallied Catholic governments against rising protestantism and renewed the pope’s political importance.

    But even the pope could not overcome the rise of European nationalism and revolutionary movements in the modern era, of which Napoleon was just one. The Vatican’s political impotence has many examples, but one of the most powerful is Pope Pius XII’s scandalous silence during the holocaust. Debate over Pius’s relative inaction still rages, with critics charging that he hoped to retain some Catholic presence in Germany while defenders argue he was more quietly diplomatic.

    Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005, seemed to carve out a new model for a politically influential pope. Though the Polish-born leader did not wield the traditional tools of direct papal power, he acted as a sort of global ambassador on behalf the church. His remarkable tenure, in which he mediated conflicts, pressured non-democratic governments to reform and sought to soothe interfaith tensions, earned him a place in history. Cold War scholars still celebrate his role in helping to end the Cold War, which even Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged.

    Pope Benedict XVI, who Monday announced that he will resign at the end of the month, has a political legacy akin to many popes in the 20th century: one in which he is relevant to the theological debates within the Catholic church but not, like the popes of old, a major player in world politics. Whoever follows him will have to consider whether he wishes the papacy to remain an office principally concerned with the internal theology of the world’s third-largest religion as it was under Benedict, or one that attempts to reclaim some of the global leadership of John Paul II. Either way, Benedict’s resignation is a reminder of how far the papacy has come from the days of when it competed alongside kings and emperors for power.

  3. #13
    Pope Benedict fell short of John Paul II’s legacy as a global political leader

    Posted by Max Fisher on February 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    “I was the first Western journalist inside the KGB headquarters in 1990,” a journalist named Eric Margolis told PBS, recounting his venture into the heart of the Soviet Union’s once-fearsome intelligence service, which had just collapsed along with the empire that it served. “The generals told me that the Vatican and the Pope above all was regarded as their number one, most dangerous enemy in the world,” he said. Mikhail Gorbachev, the final Soviet leader, once said of the Cold War’s peaceful end, “It would have been impossible without the pope.”

    Pope John Paul II, who led the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, was also a major player in global politics, and not just in his celebrated role helping to end the Cold War. He intervened to address crises within Catholic-majority countries, some of them bloody, strengthened the church’s hold in the developing world, and engaged with the leaders of other global religions.

    Pope Benedict XVI, who Monday announced that he will resign at the end of the month, never quite met the bar that John Paul II set in papal political leadership. That is in part a function of how much the world has changed in the last few decades; during John Paul’s tenure, Catholic-majority nations in Europe and Latin America faced enormous political crises that they generally don’t today. But as Benedict’s legacy takes shape, naturally drawing contrasts with his predecessor, his record appears to be comparatively weak on political leadership, global travel and outreach to other faiths.

    John Paul II took 104 official trips outside of Italy, traveling widely across every continent. His nine-day trip to his native Poland in 1979, where he delivered his famous “be not afraid” speech, helped inspire the country’s Solidarity movement. Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis credits John Paul’s trip for Solidarity’s emergence and ultimate triumph over communism; fellow historian Timothy Garton Ash once said, “Without the Pope, no Solidarity. Without Solidarity, no Gorbachev. Without Gorbachev, no fall of Communism.”

    John Paul II also helped mediate a 1984 peace treaty between Chile and Argentina; both governments credit him personally with preventing war. He became a minor hero of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, credited by Mandela for having “deeply inspired” him. He pressured, and personally lobbied, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to allow greater democratic rule, which he did the next year. He went on similar missions to Haiti and Paraguay, publicly criticizing his host governments for their abuses. As part of his aggressive outreach to other faiths, he became the first pope to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp and the first to pray in a mosque.

    Benedict, due in part to his older age, in part to his shorter tenure and in part to temperament, traveled far less widely. He took only 24 trips outside of Italy, most of those within the Western world. “He had a hard act to follow in John Paul, who was bigger than life,” Rev. Thomas Reese, a Catholic writer, told The Washington Post. “Benedict suffered by comparison because he was much more shy, he wasn’t an actor, he preferred to write books and issue encyclicals rather than travel. And he was old when he was elected.”

    Still, a pope who wished to model himself after John Paul II’s celebrated political legacy might have found ample opportunities. He might have pressed the leadership in Catholic-majority Cuba for reform. He might have attempted to mediate political conflicts in Catholic-heavy Central Africa, particularly in the long-troubled Democratic Republic of Congo. He might have found cause in working with Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey or Egypt, particularly as political Islamism rises, toward fair treatment for Christian minorities (though Egypt’s Christians are Coptic, rather than Catholic). He might have preoccupied himself with the fault line between Christianity and Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, where many Christians are Catholic. Since Benedict took over in 2005, religious and political conflicts have blurred in countries such as Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan, none of which he ever visited.

    Benedict’s political efforts, like his travels, were relatively modest. He was embroiled by controversies and social debates within the Western Catholic world, over a child sex abuse scandal and issues such as same-sex marriage and contraception. His position on HIV/AIDS, which is ravaging African societies, many of which are also heavily Catholic, has troubled the church’s outreach there. He said in 2009, “If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help, the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it.” And his discussion of Islam as a competitor of Catholicism, rather than a partner as John Paul II had described it, did little to advance interfaith dialogue.

    Whoever takes over after Benedict will face these same challenges and the same daunting comparisons to John Paul II. Whether he meets them or not – and, unless the Vatican changes its rules forbidding female popes, the next Catholic leader will be a “he” – may help to determine whether John Paul II’s political activism becomes the norm for a pope or the exception.

  4. #14
    World War 3 and the destruction of the seven hilled cith is upon is. I expect a Jesuit, Cardinal Arinze to be the next pope. Petrus Romanus will oversee the great apostasy and the desturction of the church in its current form.

    We are doomed.
    Understand? / ¿Entiendes?

  5. #15
    I have waited for five years for this papal event. Next thing I am waiting for is a massive Coastal Event before June. We are reaching the end of an epoch here.

    World War 3!, collapse of the dollar, and a massive coastal event that will wipe out 2 to 3 billion humans from the face of the earth.

    Understand? / ¿Entiendes?

  6. #16
    Hehehehehe. I am not joking.
    Understand? / ¿Entiendes?

  7. #17
    Pope's mission to revive faith clouded by scandal

    ( | Updated February 12, 2013 - 2:03am

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Benedict XVI always cast himself as the reluctant pope, a shy bookworm who preferred solitary walks in the Alps to the public glare and the majesty of Vatican pageantry. But once in office, he never shied from charting the Catholic Church on the course he thought it needed — a determination reflected in his stunning announcement yesterday that he would be the first pope to resign since 1415.

    While taking the Vatican and world by surprise, Benedict had laid the groundwork for the decision years ago, saying popes have the obligation to resign if they can't carry on. And to many, his decision was perfectly in keeping with a man who had dedicated his life to the church, showing his love for the institution and an acknowledgment that it needed new blood to confront the future.

    The German theologian, whose mission was to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe, grew increasingly frail as he shouldered the monumental task of purging the Catholic world of a sex abuse scandal that festered under John Paul II and exploded during his reign into the church's biggest crisis in decades, if not centuries.

    More recently, he bore the painful burden of betrayal by one of his closest aides: Benedict's own butler was convicted by a Vatican court of stealing the pontiff's personal papers and giving them to a journalist, one of the gravest breaches of papal security in modern times.

    All the while, Benedict pursued his single-minded vision to rekindle faith in a world which, he frequently lamented, seemed to think it could do without God.

    "In vast areas of the world today, there is a strange forgetfulness of God," he told 1 million young people gathered on a vast field for his first foreign trip as pope, World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005. "It seems as if everything would be just the same even without Him."

    With some decisive, often controversial moves, Benedict tried to remind Europe of its Christian heritage and set the Catholic Church on a conservative, tradition-minded path that often alienated progressives and thrilled conservatives.

    The Vatican's crackdown on American nuns — accused of straying from church doctrine in pursuing social justice issues rather than stressing core church teaching on abortion and homosexuality — left a bitter taste for many American Catholics.

    But conservatives cheered his championing of the pre-Vatican II church and his insistence on tradition, even if it cost the church popularity among liberals.

    As he said in his 1996 book "Salt of the Earth," a smaller but purer church may be necessary. "Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church's history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world — that let God in," he said then.

    Yet his papacy will be forever intertwined with the sex abuse scandal.

    Over the course of just a few months in 2010, thousands of people in Europe, Australia, South America and beyond came forward with reports of priests who raped and molested them as children, and bishops who covered up the crimes.

    Documents revealed that the Vatican knew well of the problem yet turned a blind eye for decades, at times rebuffing bishops who tried to do the right thing.

    Benedict had firsthand knowledge of the scope of the problem since his old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which he had headed since 1982, was responsible for dealing with abuse cases.

    He met with victims across the globe, wept with them and prayed with them. He promised that the church must "do everything possible" to ensure such crimes never happen again. The Vatican updated its legal code to extend the statute of limitations for cases and told bishops' conferences around the world to come up with guidelines to prevent abuse.

    But Benedict never admitted any personal or Vatican failure. Much to the dismay of victims, he never took action against bishops who ignored or covered up the abuse of their priests or moved known pedophiles to new posts where they abused again.

    And hard as he tried to heal the church's wounds, Benedict's message was always clouded by his wooden personal style. No globe-trotting showman or media darling like John Paul, Benedict was a teacher and academic to the core: quiet and pensive with a fierce mind. He spoke in paragraphs, not sound bites. In recent years, his declining health made him seem increasingly fragile and somewhat disengaged in public. And he was notoriously prone to gaffes, though that was perhaps more a fault of his advisers than the pope himself.

    Some of Benedict's most lasting initiatives as pope — the actions he will be remembered for — focused on restoring traditional Catholic practice and worship to 21st century Catholicism. It was all in a bid to correct what he considered the erroneous interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world.

    His conservative vision is a direction his successor will likely continue given that the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect the next pope — was hand-picked by Benedict to guarantee his legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.

    Benedict relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old, pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. He reached out to a group of traditionalist, schismatic Catholics in a bid to bring them back into Rome's fold. And he issued an unprecedented invitation to traditionalist Anglicans upset over women priests and gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church.

    In doing so, he alienated many progressive Catholics who feared he was rolling back the clock on Vatican II. He also angered some Jews who equated the pre-Vatican II church with the time when Jews were still considered ripe for conversion and were held responsible collectively for the death of Christ.

    Yet like John Paul, Benedict had made reaching out to Jews a hallmark of his papacy. His first official act as pope was a letter to Rome's Jewish community and he became the second pope in history, after John Paul, to enter a synagogue.

    And in his 2011 book "Jesus of Nazareth" Benedict made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Christ, explaining biblically and theologically why there was no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death.

    "It's very clear Benedict is a true friend of the Jewish people," said Rabbi David Rosen, who heads the interreligious relations office for the American Jewish Committee.

    During his trip to Poland, Benedict prayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp — a visit heavy with significance for a German pope on Polish soil.

    "In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent?" he asked.

    His 2009 visit to Israel, however, drew a lukewarm response from officials at Jerusalem's national Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial who found Benedict's speech lacking. His call for a Palestinian state also put a damper on the visit.

    Jews were also incensed at Benedict's constant promotion toward sainthood of Pope Pius XII, the World War II-era pope accused by some of having failed to sufficiently denounce the Holocaust. And they harshly criticized Benedict when he removed the excommunication of a traditionalist British bishop who had denied the Holocaust.

    Benedict's relations with the Muslim world were also a mixed bag.

    He riled the Muslim world with a speech in Regensburg, Germany in September 2006, five years after the terror attacks in the United States, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

    Much of the outrage that ensued from Benedict's interfaith missteps was due to the Holy See's communications problems: The Vatican under Benedict suffered notorious PR hiccups, constantly finding itself slow to react to news and then reacting with muddled messages that required two or three clarifications before getting it straight.

    Sometimes Benedict himself was to blame.

    In 2009, he enraged the United Nations and several European governments, when en route to Africa, he told reporters that the AIDS problem couldn't be resolved by distributing condoms. "On the contrary, it increases the problem," he said then.

  8. #18
    ^^^ (Cont'd )

    A year later, he issued a revision that seemed to placate liberals while maintaining church teaching opposing contraception: In a book-length interview, he said that if a male prostitute were to use a condom to avoid passing on HIV to his partner, he might be taking a first step toward a more responsible sexuality.

    It was a significant shift given the Vatican's repeated position that abstinence and marital fidelity were the only sure ways to stop the virus. Benedict repeated that line and stressed that sex outside marriage was immoral, but his comments nevertheless marked the first time a pope had even acknowledged that condoms had a role to play in stopping HIV.

    When he was elected the 265th leader of the Church on April 19, 2005, Benedict, aged 78, was the oldest pope elected in 275 years and the first German one in nearly 1,000 years.

    As John Paul's right-hand man, he had been a favorite going into the vote and was selected in the fastest conclave in a century: Just about 24 hours after the voting began, white smoke curled from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 5:50 p.m. to announce "Habemus Papam!"

    Though clearly intending to carry on John Paul's legacy, Benedict didn't try to emulate his predecessor's popular acclaim. His foreign trips were short and focused. His Masses were solemn, his homilies dense and professorial.

    And he wasn't afraid to challenge John Paul's legacy when he believed his predecessor had erred.

    In one remarkable instance, he essentially took over the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative religious order held up as a model of orthodoxy by John Paul after it was revealed that its founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.

    Under John Paul, who had been a fierce supporter of Maciel, the Vatican's investigation into the Mexican priest had languished. But a year after Benedict became pope, Maciel was sentenced to a lifetime of penance and prayer, and in 2010 the order was essentially put under receivership by the Vatican because of a host of spiritual, financial and other problems.

    He wrote three encyclicals, "God is Love" in 2006, "Saved by Hope" in 2007 and "Charity in Truth" in 2009. The latter was perhaps his best known as it called for a new world financial order guided by ethics that was published in the throes of the global financial meltdown.

    Benedict's call, however, would strike some as hypocritical when a year later the Holy See's top two banking officials were placed under investigation in a money laundering probe that resulted in the seizure of millions of euros from a Vatican Bank account. The money was later released after Benedict, the Vatican's top legislator, amended the city state's legal code to comply with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing.

    The Vatican's finances though also came under scrutiny when Benedict's own butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested in May 2012 and charged with stealing the pope's personal correspondence and leaking the documents to a journalist. Gabriele told Vatican investigators he did so because he thought the pope wasn't being informed of the "evil and corruption" in the Vatican and thought that exposing it publicly would put the church back on the right track. Gabriele was eventually sentenced to 18 months in prison, though Benedict later pardoned him.

    As soon as he was elected, Benedict moved decisively on a few selected fronts: He made clear early on that he wanted to re-establish diplomatic relations with China that were severed in 1951. He wrote a landmark letter to the 12 million Chinese faithful in 2007, urging them to unite under Rome's wing. But tensions with the state-backed church remained with several illicit ordinations of Chinese bishops without papal consent.

    Within his first year, Benedict also signed off on a long-awaited document barring most gays from the priesthood in a move that riled many in the American church. But in a document welcomed by liberal Catholics, he also essentially abolished "limbo," saying there was hope to think that babies who died without being baptized would go to heaven.

    And in one of his most popular acts, he beatified his predecessor in record time, drawing 1.5 million people to Rome in 2011 to witness John Paul move a step closer to sainthood.

    Benedict favored Masses heavy in Latin and the brocaded silk vestments of his predecessors. His fondness for Gregorian chant and Mozart — he was an accomplished classical pianist — found its way into papal Masses and concerts performed in his honor, some of the only times the workaholic Benedict was seen relaxing and enjoying himself.

    He had a weakness for orange Fanta, small animals and his beloved library; when he was elected pope, he had his entire study moved — as is — from his apartment just outside the Vatican walls into the Apostolic Palace.

    "In them are all my advisers," he said of his books in the 2010 book-length interview "Light of the World." ''I know every nook and cranny, and everything has its history."

    He fed the goldfish in the pond at the papal summer retreat each day during his vacations, and once, when some lion cubs were brought to an audience at the Vatican, he bent down to pet one — no easy feat for a man of his age.

    Years after he had left, colleagues from his days at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke wistfully, even nostalgically of his tenure setting the course of Catholic doctrine and discipline and presiding over the creation of the monumental "Catechism of the Catholic Church" — a synthesis of key Catholic teaching.

    His presentations at monthly department meetings were "magisterial," they said, worthy of the church's permanent teachings. They said he fostered a "family" inside the hallowed yellow halls of the Holy Office, once known as the Inquisition.

    His real family consisted of his brother Georg, also a priest and a frequent summer visitor to Castel Gandolfo. His sister died years previous.

    His "papal family" consisted of Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, his longtime private secretary who was always by his side, another secretary and four consecrated women who tended to the papal apartment.

    They shared meals, celebrated daily Mass together and at the end of the day watched DVDs, especially of Benedict's favorite show "Don Camillo and Peppone," a black and white comedy from the 1950s about the pastor of a small Italian town and its Communist mayor.

    Benedict was born April 16, 1927 in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

    In his memoirs, Benedict dealt what could have been a source of controversy had it been kept secret — that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper. He deserted the German army in April 1945, the waning days of the war.

    He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.

    Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

    John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul's death in 2005, he was elected pope by a conclave of cardinals.

    If there were any doubts about Benedict's priority to reinvigorate Christianity in Europe, his choice of a papal name was as good as any indication.

    Benedict told cardinals soon after he was elected that he hoped to be a pope of peace, like Pope Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I. But the first Benedict — St. Benedict of Norcia — was also an inspiration.

    The 5th and 6th century monk is a patron saint of Europe and inspired the creation of the Benedictine order, the main guardian of learning and literature in Western Europe during the dark centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.

  9. #19
    Electing a pope: conclave, oath, chimney smoke

    ( | Updated February 12, 2013 - 7:23am

    (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI's resignation sets in motion a complex sequence of events to elect the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The laws governing the selection after a pope's resignation are the same as those in force after a papal death, aside from skipping a period of mourning.

    Here is the procedure:

    — The Vatican summons a conclave of cardinals that must begin 15-20 days after Benedict's Feb. 28 resignation.

    — Cardinals eligible to vote — those under age 80 — are sequestered within Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy.

    —There are currently 118 cardinals under age 80 and eligible to vote, 67 of whom were appointed by Benedict. However, four of them will turn 80 before the end of March. Depending on the date of the conclave, they may or may not be allowed to vote.

    — Any baptized Roman Catholic male is eligible for election as pope, but only cardinals have been selected since 1378.

    — Two ballots are held each morning and two each afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. A two-thirds majority is required. Benedict in 2007 reverted back to this two-thirds majority rule, reversing a 1996 decision by Pope John Paul II, who had decreed that a simple majority could be invoked after about 12 days of inconclusive voting. Benedict did so to prevent cardinals from holding out for 12 days then pushing through a candidate who only had only a slim majority.

    — Ballots are burned after each round. Black smoke means no decision; white smoke signals that cardinals have chosen pope and he has accepted. Bells also signal the election of a pope to help avoid possible confusion over color of smoke coming from chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

    — The new pope is introduced from the loggia overlooking St. Peter's Square with the words "Habemus Papam!" (Latin for "We have a pope!") and he then imparts his first blessing.

  10. #20
    Can a Pope resign? History says yes

    By Kim Arveen Patria | Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

    News of the pope's resignation Monday shocked the world, including the pre-dominantly Catholic Philippines, which has not seen a papal resignation in ages.

    Pope Benedict XVI said he will step down from his seat in the Vatican Feb. 28, noting that he lacked strength to fulfill his duties.

    The pontiff, born as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in Germany, took the Vatican throne at the age of 78, 20 years older than his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

    "For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter," the pope said according to a Vatican statement.

    But this is not the first time that a pope resigned, with a provision in the Code of Canon Law allowing such action.

    Rule 332.2 of the code said: "If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone."

    British Catholic weekly journal The Tablet, meanwhile, noted that there have been "at least four and possibly six" papal resignations.

    The last pope to have resigned is Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 as part of negotiations at the Council of Constance during which there were two claimants to the papacy.

    Other popes who have resigned, the Tablet said, include Pontian in 235 A.D.; Silverius in 537; and Celestine V in 1294.

    John XVIII is also believed to have resigned shortly before his death in 1009.

    Benedict IX, meanwhile, "abdicated" in 1045 but then returned to office two years later though deposed the following year.

    The Tablet has noted, however, that "there is no recorded instance... of a pope resigning his office because of physical or mental incapacity..."

    A conclave of cardinals is meanwhile expected to be called in the Vatican to elect a new pope.

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