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 Post subject: The pope's resignation
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:20 am 
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I am not a catholic, so the pope does not really mean a lot to me and I do not particularly like Benedict XVI, but I was surprised by his resignation. I appreciated the decision, but somehow I think what makes me appreciate it is a very prussian, somehow very protestant conception of duty (which does not very well fit with the idea of a catholic, bavarian pope in some way): you do your best while you can and you leave when you can't any more. The duty is more important than the person. To recognise your own limits is the admittance of your nature - and thus of the limits that God (if you believe in him) has given to you. It is more important to ensure that the task is accomplished than to ensure your own role within it.

In a discussion about this decision - a highly historical choice, Benedict is only the second pope in the whole history of the catholic church to resign by his own choice and freely - Matthias expressed that it could be seen as a degradation of the office of papacity, which becomes a job like another which you can leave an no longer a godly call which you have to fulfill until the bitter end, a sacerdoce from which you cannot escape.

I wondered how the catholics feel about it. And anyway, I thought it was such an important and historical decision that it should not go undiscussed.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:27 am 
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A Facebook friend of mine commented that just when she thought this Pope would never do anything innovative, he goes and does.

I work at a Cathlic school and both the principals are Sisters. (Notre Dame de Namur, one of the more liberal orders.) Both thought that this was a good thing and would be beneficial to the church.

My principal commented that she was positive Benedict had been diagnosed with something debilitating - perhaps Alzhiemer's. But I am not so sure.

I do know that it was painful to watch John Paul II in the last few years of his papacy.

It will be interesting to me (as an interested non-Catholic) to see what direction the church goes in choosing a new Pope.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:06 pm 
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I am also not (quite) Catholic, and I don't view it as a degradation of the office. I see it as a courageous move, actually, to admit that he can't fulfill his duties anymore. But, then, maybe my view of the papacy is different than a Catholic's would be.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:13 pm 
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I'm a Catholic and I'm glad to see him gone. I feel he's been a backward step for Catholicism.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:30 pm 
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But Alatar, this is a feeling about the person - do you separate the person from the office?

Matthias is no more catholic than me, by the way, we just happened to discuss Benedict's resignation.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:38 pm 
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Hmm. Yes, I guess I expect a Pope to stay Pope till he dies. If you are actually appointed by God, as they claim, then how do you "unappoint" yourself?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:49 pm 
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Some of the commentators I've read say that both Benedict and John Paul II spent their papacies replacing anyone remotely liberal in Vatican power circles with rock-ribbed theological conservatives. As a result, the next Pope will be chosen by these conservatives from among themselves, and the cycle will most likely perpetuate itself for many decades. The church won't change, no matter what happens in the world. Catholics who are glad of that will stay. Others may make another choice.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:59 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
both Benedict and John Paul II spent their papacies replacing anyone remotely liberal in Vatican power circles with rock-ribbed theological conservatives.


This is true, I think...more so for Benedict than John Paul II

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As a result, the next Pope will be chosen by these conservatives from among themselves, and the cycle will most likely perpetuate itself for many decades.


This may or may not be true. The choosing of a Pope sometimes surprises people with the end result. And just like appointing a Supreme Court Justice, they way the person acts once in office may not be what those appointing him anticipated.

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The church won't change, no matter what happens in the world.


As far as I know, Vatican II is still in effect - despite the attempts to reverse it. The nuns who were told to go out into the world and get educated and mingle with the populace have done just that - and now most of them are way ahead of the men in the church in terms of education and knowledge. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube - as much as some might try. The schism in the church is no longer bewteen countries, but between the men in power and the women doing most of the real work.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:13 pm 
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What I meant by "the church won't change" is that its official policies and the beliefs of the men in charge won't change—I do think that is true, barring the kind of surprise you mention.

I agree that out in the world, the Catholic laity and many priests and people in holy orders are much more diverse and will continue to change with the world, whatever the leaders of the church might wish. I don't know what this will lead to, but it isn't a stable situation.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:23 pm 
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I have a coworker who is a devout Catholic. I asked her what she thought of the Pope's decision. She approves, but she's somewhat hard-nosed about people doing their jobs. And, for what little it's worth, I agree with her sentiments. If Pope Benedict feels that he is too feeble to attend to his duties then the correct thing to do is step aside.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:55 am 
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I read an article yesterday which said - and I found that an interesting point of view - " "You don't step down from the cross".

If you accept the point of view that Jesus suffered for the sins of people and that the pope is the representant of God - how can he refuse his personal suffering and still claim the message of Jesus? How can you say that all should accept God's choices and yet refuse the choice for yourself? (still given the doctrine that the pope is actually chosen by God himself only through the cardinals...) Is Benedict in his action then not in contradiction to his teaching?

Like many others, I hope for a change in catholic church - although not being catholic and as an atheist, I don't care so much. But a modernized catholic chruch can make life better and easier for those who follow her - and those are many people. Yet, is that the role of a church? The aim should not be popularity.

Benedict himself said in his resignation that his office can also be fulfilled through prayer and suffering - yet he refuses this fulfillment for himself. On the other hand, the catholic church demands from its members to bear suffering and to trust the will of God. The more I think about it, the more I see the contradiction.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:05 am 
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Nin wrote:
Benedict himself said in his resignation that his office can also be fulfilled through prayer and suffering - yet he refuses this fulfillment for himself. On the other hand, the catholic church demands from its members to bear suffering and to trust the will of God. The more I think about it, the more I see the contradiction.


I think Benedict Meant that the remainder of his life will be spent in prayer...and no doubt suffering, especially if he does have cancer or Alzhiemer's or something. He will be giving up writing, apparently and spend his days in solitude and prayer.

And maybe the will of God is that he should resign and not continue as a severely debilitated Pope.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:55 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
And maybe the will of God is that he should resign and not continue as a severely debilitated Pope.


I agree. I actually don't understand why this is so controversial, but then again I am not Catholic.

That probably makes a difference. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:57 pm 
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If one was being facetious one might question the will of a God who chose a Pope that was not going to be able to do the job. Incompetent Ompipotence?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:41 pm 
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But he did the job for a period of time, like any other pope. I guess I see a great deal of wisdom in stepping down from the most important position in the RCC if you realize you cannot do the job. Why leave the body of Christ you love so much essentially leaderless? Why leave it to drift or even go off course while you, as its leader, are too incapacitated to direct it? There's a greater wisdom in stepping down than in sticking it out, especially if he turns out to have dementia or Alzheimer's. Can you imagine? :(

Anyway, I'm not Catholic, so I guess I don't get the big deal with him resigning. He's not Jesus on the cross dying and suffering for our sins. He's a man, appointed by God to lead the RCC and be God's representative on earth. It wasn't like God was appointing him to serve in that role eternally. It was always only going to be for a certain period of time.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:57 pm 
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The problem here is that we're ascribing God's motives to a process run by Men. If the Catholic church didn't claim that God picks the Pope, this wouldn't be an issue. If God does pick the Pope, the Pope doesn't get to resign.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:04 pm 
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But if God doesn't pick the Pope, why would the Pope be important to Catholics?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:01 pm 
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And why wouldn't the Pope get to resign even if he is picked by God? :scratch: God moves people in and out of ministries all of the time, but, yes, I get that this is supposed to be the "biggest" ministry/role on earth. Obviously, a pope shouldn't resign on a whim, and it shouldn't happen often. (I think 600 years is a reasonable interim of time. ;) )

On a "smaller" scale, God leads each one of us into different situations, ministries, and seasons of our lives. I don't see the imperative for permanency until death.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:55 am 
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This is essentially a belief issue I think Lali. Speaking purely for myself, I believe the Pope is a political office, not a religious one, and that all of the "picked by God" stuff is posturing to secure the post. Historically the Pope had very good reasons to try to ensure that his position was seen as bestowed by God.

However, this is a modern world, and I think the Pope is, as I said, merely a political leader, and not "in the shoes of the Fisherman". As such, he should absolutely be able to resign. I just find it hypocritical to try to have it both ways. If God picked him, he doesn't get to unpick himself.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:45 pm 
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I do see where you're coming from, and it makes sense when you view the papacy in that light. (I don't agree with you, but I definitely see your viewpoint.)

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