Pope Benedict XVI shockingly resigns
In a move that has shocked Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Pope Benedict XVI has announced his decision to resign as head of the Catholic Church.
Citing ailing health and old age as key factors behind his decision, Benedict stated: “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of the necessary duties a Pope must fulfill.
Accepting the role in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has faced countless challenges and scandals throughout his eight years as leader of the Catholic Church.
Perhaps the most significant of these challenges was the release of damming reports in 2010 of clerical abuse and accusations towards dioceses and the Vatican itself of the complicit covering up of incidents of sexual abuse and pedophilia.
Nicknamed God’s Rottweiler before his ascendancy to the position of Pope according to both The Guardian and The New York Times, Benedict has shown unyielding determination in his duty to steer the Catholic Church through the potential perils of the 21st century.
In keeping with his sense of duty, Pope Benedict stated on Monday that he was no longer suitable for the role of head of the papacy.
“In today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for life of faith, in order to govern the gospel, both strength and mind are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated”.
Leaders across Europe have released statements praising the role the Pope has played over the last eight years. Although the Italian Prime Minister expressed his shock at the decision, it was apparent that Pope Benedict is much respected.
Indeed, the British Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Benedict’s attempts to re-build relations between Britain and the Vatican stating “he will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions”.
Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to step down from his role until the 28th of February and there have been no suggestions as to who will be put forward to replace him.
The Catholic Church once again has an opportunity to redefine their position in the world and their choice of a successor will need to reflect this.
Although Benedict has indicated that the 21st century needs an intellectually and physically strong leader (suggesting perhaps that younger candidates should be put forward), the spokesman for the Orthodox Russian Church has, according to the BBC, warned “there will be no grounds to expect that there will be any drastic changes in the Vatican’s policies”.