Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down
Posted on February 11, 2013
Breaking news from the New York Times:
Citing advanced years and infirmity, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic world on Monday by saying he would resign on Feb. 28 after less than eight years in office, the first pope to do so in six centuries.
After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and on social media, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.
Given that I believe this Pope has acted both unethically and illegally, in the process causing a great deal of harm to many people, I should be glad he is retiring as head of the Catholic Church. And, on balance, I am.
Yet I am not as overjoyed about the news as many of my secularist friends appear to be. During his tenure, Pope Benedict XVI arguably did more harm to the undeserved positive image of the Catholic Church than all of the prominent atheists combined. In the coming weeks, I’m sure we will hear in the coming weeks that the Church is bound to pick someone who is younger and has broader appeal. But Pope Benedict XVI was extraordinarily successful at pushing people away from the Catholic Church mainly because he was an accurate representative of the Church’s current role in the modern world. The last thing the world needs right now is a candy-coated Pope who will make people forget that the Church spends most of its time and energy not making the world a better place, but advancing Middle Age theology.
Of course, one could argue a new Pope might move the Church forward on a range of issues. But remember: this is an institution which still opposes modern realities like birth control and sex before marriage and abortion — even in cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s life being at risk. For good measure, it also opposes equal rights for gays and lesbians, and secular government. So forgive me if I don’t see much reason to hold out much hope that radical, positive change is coming anytime soon.