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Pope to step down on Feb 28; cites ‘advanced age’ – another scandal shoe about to drop?

This is historic news; the last time a pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415; “old age” has traditionally meant nothing as popes die in office. Notably, Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the right-hand man to Pope John Paul II, who not only succumbed to advanced age, but was for all intents and purposes senile for the last few years of his reign. As it’s being reported now — via CNN:

Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28, his spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNN Monday.

The 85-year-old pope is resigning “because of advanced age,” Benedict told the cardinals of the Catholic Church on Monday.

“Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” the pope told the cardinals, according to the Vatican.

Via ABC News, more detail:

Popes are allowed to resign; church law specifies only that the resignation be “freely made and properly manifested.”

Only a handful have done so, however and there’s good reason why it hasn’t become commonplace: Might the existence of two popes — even when one has stepped down — lead to divisions and instability in the church? Might a new resignation precedent lead to pressures on future popes to quit at the slightest hint of infirmity?

Now the Catholic church, which has been shaken by controversy and scandal by its protection of its pedophile priests preying on parishioners around the globe, as well as revelations by the Pope’s butler leaking papers (Paolo Gabriele said he had acted because he saw “evil and corruption everywhere in the Church”), faces some choices. Benedict has ruled with a horrendous obsession on demonizing of the LGBT community since ascending in 2005, while having to pay out hundreds of millions in settlements for these sexual predator situations that he had a hand in covering up.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding