A big hat to fill
Wise decision for a misguided church
Marcus Clem | copy editor
Pope Benedict XVI is right to recognize that infirm octogenarians cannot lead the single-largest unified religious institution on planet Earth. Would that this degree of wisdom and ability to recognize reality permeate throughout the Catholic Church from which he is retiring.
Some will say that because I’m not Catholic, and, in fact, not much of a Christian at all, I have no right to pronounce judgment on the tenure of a prelate. Naturally, I disagree, but more important, this is a distraction.
Other than being a religious institution, the Catholic Church is a political and a social one, and that means it affects people outside it in ways that can be criticized.
Moreover, what the Catholic Church does, and has done in the past, have in many ways harmed people outside the church most of all.
The most obvious of these harms is, of course, the ongoing clerical sex abuse scandal within the church. To take care of the most obvious facts about this first: This is not a uniquely Catholic problem.
The actions of men like Jerry Sandusky at Penn State show that, given the position and the power, some men, who are monsters by nature, will leverage resources in every way they can toward the suffering of children.
What is a uniquely Catholic problem is how the church has handled it. It should be obvious that when a child musters the courage to tell someone that an adult has abused him or her, everyone involved at every level has a solemn obligation to seek justice.
The church still has failed to promote that universal truth to a level even approaching satisfactory.
The American wing of the church, where the first accusations against priests began, has adopted its own policy for full cooperation with civil authorities in all such cases, and for allowing full penalties against convicted priests.
This should have been adopted everywhere in the church years ago. The only reason it has not is misguided conservatism; the sort that Pope Benedict has cultivated, which says that Catholic parishes remain subservient to their religious leaders, even when those leaders are involved in wrongdoing.
Other policies of this pope are thankfully of lesser consequence, but still impugn his legacy.
Chief among them is the active promotion of abstinence-only sex education and the church’s hardline teachings on contraception use.
Meanwhile, the church continues to expand in places like South America and Africa, where HIV/AIDS remains perhaps the greatest persistent scourge in medical history.
During this pope’s tenure, the indisputably most effective method to protect against nearly all sexually transmitted disease, other than the unrealistic expectation that adult human beings should just abstain, is being suppressed.
The best thing the church could do is reverse position and retract what it has said about this in the past. However, considering that we are talking about the Catholic Church here, that’s probably unrealistic. Instead, it would just be best for the church to go officially silent on the matter, and leave medical problems to medical professionals.
Pope Benedict, whether he intended it or not, has created the argument that the pope must be competent to be a leader and someone capable of guiding his church into the future.
Personal choice benfefits Catholics worldwide
Gretchen Burns | managing editor
Pope Benedict XVI announced last week that he will step down, effective Feb. 28. While the announcement came as a surprise, it also stirred a debate about whether he will leave the church in better shape than when he started.
I believe that the church will be better off and his decision to step down offers easier transitions between popes in the future.
With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church is now preparing for a new era. For a religion that has lasted roughly 2000 years, the stepping down of one Holy Father is a drop in the bucket.
Benedict XVI set the church on a path, that in future years, will do not only the church, but also the world, a variety of good.
While realizing that his age and health would prevent him from performing the job required of him as the Holy Father, Benedict XVI has placed the fate of the Catholic Church into the hands of the College of Cardnials.
He has fearlessly led the way for his successor to work with technology and new, controversial issues brought to the attention of the church.
While it has been said that controversies and scandals will be what defines his papacy, I believe that Benedict did the absolute best he could.
Pope Benedict XVI took it upon himself to meet with abuse victims in Ireland and apologized to the entire nation for the child sex abuse by clergy scandals.
Benedict XVI worked to make the church greener; to preserve the environment and make it better for everyone in the world. Until now, no pope has shown an interest in taking care of the planet.
He began reuniting the Catholic Church, and bringing the faith closer to God by bringing back traditions that have not been used in decades: like the restoration of the traditional Latin mass.
Yes, some of the decisions made by Pope Benedict XVI have angered critics of the Catholic faith, but when those decisions were made, the pope was not looking for the compliments of critics.
Instead, he was looking forward to the way it would affect the church and faith in the future, not this world that is more concerned with politics and trivial ideals.
Benedict’s resignation is a new gateway for future pontiffs. From now on, those who are elected to the papacy will have the decision to step down if their health cannot handle the activity, energy and focus that the job requires.
Future pontiffs won’t have to try and fulfill their obligations as pope, even as their health fails much like Benedict XVI’s predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II did.
Should their health begin to fail, the pope now has the opportunity to step down for the future of the church. Benedict has made it easier for future pontiffs to step down now that someone has done it.
It’s time that the Catholic Church embrace a better future for us all.