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Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation

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					                             Background to Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation
                                                                                 by Frank Kaufmann, 02/13/13
                                                                                                     PAGE 1
                                                       More of Frank's commentaries can be found here
                                                                                      http://bit.ly/UpW45H




Photo: Pope Benedict XVI


The Catholic Church is nothing if not a repository of tradition.

Pope Benedict XVI may have shocked the world and shocked his church by announcing his resignation
Monday, but we can be sure that the decision was not sudden, nor on impulse.

The Roman Catholic Church, when it comes to official actions, all but regulates when one is allowed to
breathe in, and breathe out. An act as sensational and stunning as Pope Benedict’s resignation is infinitely
more to be governed by microscopic level probes into precedent and Canon Law.

Canon law of the Catholic Church is the oldest functioning legal system in the Western world. It evolved
over the course of the millennia, originally scattered throughout thousands of papal and diocesan decrees,
decisions, and commentaries.
                             Background to Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation
                                                                                    by Frank Kaufmann, 02/13/13
                                                                                                        PAGE 2
                                                       More of Frank's commentaries can be found here
                                                                                       http://bit.ly/UpW45H
Pope Pius X commissioned their codification in 1903, which was completed in 1917 yielding 2,414 canons.
In 1983, John Paul II approved about 20 years of new work that finally resulted in the 1,752 canons. These
continue to be guide Roman Catholic decisions to this day.

As a legal system, canon law is concerned with protecting the smooth order of the society that it serves, in
this case the Roman Catholic Church. We can be sure that Pope Benedict's Monday surprise was as
deeply lawyered as any decision ever made in the Catholic Church.

For me, this resignation was a great act. We are treated as eye-witnesses to an historic moment of
religious movement and courage at is best. Non-religious media with scurry around with blood hounds
sniffing through medical journal, or in the dark corners of power. But for the Holy Father himself, the
wellspring of his decision is about the interplay of his physical, mental and spiritual condition, his Papal
responsibilities, and his range of options as dictated by Canon Law.

The context of this decision is the history of the Papacy, and the state and future of Roman Catholicism in
our world today.

In the past 1000 years, only four Popes prior to Benedict XVI have resigned office; Benedict IX in 1045,
Gregory VI (Benedict IX's uncle) a year later in 1046, Celestine V in 1294, and Gregory XII in 1415.
From these, 3 of them occur in the midst of shenanigans and disorder, including two of them while the
church suffered dysfunction so severe as to have rival claimants to the Papacy.

Only Celestine V comes close, if we are to trust the history books, to resigning with integrity and honorable
purposes. According to a report in the Guardian, Celestine V explained that his resignation was out of
“the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical
strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, and his longing for the tranquility of his former life.”
He went on to become a hermit.

Though our current Pope has strong critics, like every public figure in this current fractious, peevish age, I
place this Pope's resignation in the tradition most close to Celestine V, but in fact higher. Pope Celestine V
served only 5 months in office before assessing himself ill-suited to its burdens. Benedict XVI however,
stood valiantly in the throes of a horrible time to accept this mission, and did so until the very last moments
when he feels he no longer has sufficient stamina and fortitude to do justice to the mission.

Benedict XVI agreed to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest and most charismatic religious figures
in recent memory, Pope John Paul II, a person blessed not only with great personal gifts, but also with the
chance to lead during a dramatic time in history, concurrent with the evident fall of militant atheism.
Following a great figure is never welcome nor easy.
                           Background to Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation
                                                                               by Frank Kaufmann, 02/13/13
                                                                                                   PAGE 3
                                                   More of Frank's commentaries can be found here
                                                                                    http://bit.ly/UpW45H

Secondly Benedict XVI agreed to accept the leadership of a church knee deep in vile and horrid perversion,
compounded by confused and borderline evil management of the sins by which it became infected. Again
an assignment unwelcome to a monstrous degree, yet Benedict XVI was willing to accept.

Celestine V's resignation though not in scandal and disorder was more for personal preservation. Benedict
XVI's resignation however, is for the sake of his Church. This is where the nobleness of his announcement
lies.

By meeting the limitations of age and decline publicly, and head on, Pope Benedict XVI has taken a
courageous, monumental step for the modernization and progressive development of his community of
faith.

				
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Description: The Catholic Church is nothing if not a repository of tradition. Pope Benedict XVI may have shocked the world and shocked his church by announcing his resignation Monday, but we can be sure that the decision was not sudden, nor on impulse.