Well.. don’t think anyone was expecting that.
This morning, Pope Benedict XVI has announced he will be stepping down from the papacy, stating he no longer had the mental and physical strength to cope with the demands of his ministry. He becomes the first pontiff to step down since the middle-ages.
In a statement, the pope said in order to govern “…both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.”
According to some recent reports, the Pope has looked increasingly frail in public, sometimes being helped to walk by those around him. He is apparently suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, which would prevent him from fulfilling his duties.
This announcement has surprised everyone, including his own closest aides who were unaware he had planned to step down.
His history has been widely publicised – being elected Pope John Paul II’s successor, to his time in the Hitler Youth in World War II (though was never an actual member of the Nazi party, and has confronted his country’s past when visiting the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz).
But oh has there ever been scandal…
- Child abuse scandals plagues his papacy, though he did order an official inquiry into the abuse in Ireland which lead to several cardinals resigning.
- In 2012, his own butler was revealed to be the source of leaked documents ‘alleging corruption in the Vatican’s business dealings‘.
- During a lecture at a German university, he offended the Islamic/Muslim community by quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying ‘Islam had only brought evil to the world and that it was spread by the sword‘.
- Rejected the use of condoms in order to prevent the spread of AIDS/HIV. Instead has suggested chastity, fidelity in marriage, self-denial and anti-poverty efforts in Africa, even going so far as stating the use of prophylactics actually increases the spread of the disease (due to increased sexual activity).
- In March 2012, he stated that straight marriage should be defended from “every possible misrepresentation of their true nature”, and most recently condemned gay-marriage during his 2012 Christmas address.
For me personally, I couldn’t care less if there was a Pope in Rome or not.. and it’s not just because I’m not a religious person (some may call me an Atheist..). I’ve never been a fan of organised religion, mostly because of how a lot of them (not all) tend to try and force their beliefs down your throat.. and are never willing to discuss an issue.
I respect others that have their own religious beliefs (regardless of the religion itself), as everyone is entitled to have their own opinion.. as long as they are willing to allow me to have my own belief system. If someone wants to discuss the theology of some issue, let’s do so.. as long as it’s an intellectual discussion and not a lecture on what the ‘Bible says’.
Personally I feel the Catholic Church itself an archaic organisation and holds to a belief system from centuries past. And to me, just doesn’t reflect the true nature of life in current times.
Maybe I’m just a realist and want some physical proof of the supposed ‘teachings’ in the Bible .. which to me is just a book (a work of fiction in fact..) that’s been repeatedly rewritten to promote the message of those who’ve commissioned the revision itself. And like any ‘book’, it is open for interpretation by those who choose to read it.
I don’t think that’s blasphemy.. that is my personal opinion.
And blasphemy would indicate a belief in something other than in life itself.