As of yesterday Pope Benedict XVI has stated that he will resign on February 28, due to failing physical and mental health attributed to his age. Currently 85 and elected in 2005, he has led the Catholic church for 8 years.
From Pope Benedict
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, 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, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Yet there are many questions that are being raised, and which need to be resolved.
Many fearing schism
There are many that are fearing schism to an already affected church. The church has been lately criticized for the child abuse scandal that has been going on, as well as the Muslim disputes that have happened throughout his papacy.
Pope Benedict has said that there should not be a fear of schism or any division. The pope stated that we are to leave all matters to the Holy Spirit which has guided the church for all the 2000 years in which it has existed. Doing so will get us where we need to go.
What Pope Benedict had contributed
There are a lot of things that we will miss about Pope Benedict XVI, this includes all that he had contributed as pope, the Vicar of Christ. Of these things include his theological wisdom that he has shown mostly in writings such as The Jesus of Nazareth books that he has published.
This also includes his years of preserving the truth, as he has warned us about many of the wrongs that are affecting modern society. This includes the dictatorship of relativism that he has warned us about. He has brought unity within the Catholic church by bringing schismatic groups within the Catholic church back into communion. He reminded us about our responsibility to the poor, and of fairness of distribution and equality.
These are all the things that we should remember Pope Benedict XVI for and not so much as the pope that decided to resign.
The next pope
There is a question as to who will be the next pope. Pope Benedict reminds us to believe in the Holy Spirit and to leave all matters to God. Yet there are some candidates for pope and one that stands out.
Many people expect Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria to be the next pope. He would be the 4th pope that comes from Africa. There have been three other popes throughout the papacy that have been African.
Prayer and hope
All we can do right now is to pray to God that he may guide his church as he always has. Jesus said " The gates of Hell will never prevail against it" He also said " I will be with you always, even to the consummation of the world". For these reasons we are to have faith in the church and in God's providence.
Let us contribute by doing what we have always done as Catholics and live the truth regardless of the changing times.
photo credit: Sergey Gabdurakhmanov via photopin cc