In a stunning turn of events, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign from his papacy at the end of the month, something that hasn't occurred in nearly 600 years. Although many see this as a time to poke fun, parody or maybe even chastise him, I believe the Pope should be praised for his decision, not condemned.
"I've decided to resign the ministry given to me by the Lord," Pope Benedict XVI said. "I've done this in full freedom, for the full benefit of the Church." The 85-year-old Pope cited "advanced age" and an "incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to [him]" as the reasons for his resignation.
But why is this a bad thing?
Think about it from a purely logical point of view for a second. The Pope is the spiritual leader for over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and has a tremendous amount of responsibility on his shoulders. If you had that many people following you and counting on you for spiritual guidance, wouldn't you want to feel like you have complete clarity? And if you felt your age was acting as a hinderance to that cognitive functioning, wouldn't you want someone who could do the job just as well as you if not better?
"I feel like he made the right choice if he felt that he couldn't be an effective leader due to his health," Jake Bartel, sophomore political science major, said.
Some think that the Catholic Church's recent controversies over child molestation might have had something to do with the Pope's resignation but, in my opinion, that just doesn't make sense. The scandals weren't a new issue when Benedict came into his papacy nor were they a surprise. Benedict knew the scandals coming in. If guilt or stress was the true reason for his resignation, why not do it sooner when the scandals were at an all-time high? Why resign now?
Instead, it's much more logical to believe that an 85-year-old man with an extremely strong spiritual conviction felt more compelled to resign than possibly lead 1.2 billion people astray, simply because of his own health and frailty. Also, Benedict's resignation allows someone more capable of fulfilling the papal duties to be elected.
According to Newsmax Magazine, some of the candidates for the next pope include Italy's Cardinal Angelo Scola, Honduras' Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Quebec's Marc Oullet and Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson.
My favorite candidate out of the lists I've seen is Turkson because he speaks six languages (including English), and seems to be quite a bit more progressive than the last two popes. I think Turkson would bring a much-needed reinvigoration to the Catholic Church as well as a whole new perspective to the papacy that we haven't seen in a long time.
No matter who is elected as the next pope, though, I think Benedict's resignation was a huge display of humility that will benefit the Catholic Church in the long run. While some may not necessarily understand his motives, Benedict deserves the peace and meditation he's requested. We should instead turn our attention towards prayers and well-wishes for all involved in the ongoing discernment process. We must look towards the future rather than harp on the past.