The big story in the news today is that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of this month. Since this is an event that hasn't happened since Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, I thought that I would give my thoughts on the matter.
I think that it's good of Benedict to resign. I really just think that being Pope is a big job with a lot of responsibility for a 70-something year old man. His doctor had told him that he couldn't travel that much anymore, and his health is deteriorating. I personally think it was good of him to realize the reality of his situation and decide to resign.
All of the Popes, except of corse for Gregory XII, died in office. We studied a lot about Popes in history especially at the beginning of the year, and the Papacy always affects history. Popes kind of had big egos, and a lot of people bribed and did non-Pope-like things in order to become Pope and went against the teachings of the Bible during their time in office (with the selling of indulgences). Giovanni de Medici, otherwise known as Pope Leo X, because he was a Medici in Italy during the Medieval period, became a Cardinal at age 15, with the help of bribery. When he was elected Pope (also through bribery, I might point out), he held a party at which he painted a toddler with gold leaf and made him dance all night. Now, if you've seen Goldfinger, you know that when you paint someone with gold leaf, you will suffocate their pores and they will die. Guess what happened to the toddler? Yup, he died, which is incredibly sad. I might say here that Pope Leo X was the one who excommunicated Martin Luther (twice). In history, especially during the Medieval times, Popes wanted to hold on to their power. The Great Schism happened because these guys were way too egotistical to realize that they were being stubborn, and it took an intelligent Pope to realize that all of this political turmoil could stop if he just resigned. That pope was Pope Gregory XII. Good for him. I'm glad that Benedict isn't holding on to the position just because it holds a lot of power.
The big issue is what he's going to do next. I don't think the position of Pope comes with a retirement plan or anything. We were talking about this in history today, and basically what the College of Cardinals is going to be looking at to decide what is going to happen to Benedict is a really really old document from the fifteenth century. Things that were relevant in 1415 when Gregory XII resigned probably aren't going to be relevant today, because things happen, and the world changes. That's just part of life. But it's interesting, because for the next couple of weeks, we're going to be living a lot of what was going on back then, because the only thing that these Cardinals have to compare this situation to was written a long time ago.
There's a lot of hope now that a Cardinal from Latin America, Asia, or Africa will become the next Pope. That this Pope is going to be more liberal than that last ones, and that this new Pope will be "young," considering that basically all of the Cardinals are over 50 years old.
It's going to be interesting. I wasn't paying attention the last time this happened, because I was eight years old. It'll be exciting when we see that white smoke coming out of St. Peter's Basilica.