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28 February 2013

Komonchak on Benedict

Interesting read from the retired professor:

The last pope to resign did so more than seven hundred years ago, which is a long time even by church standards. The controversy surrounding Celestine V’s abdication and the succession of Boniface VIII did not recommend the practice to later popes, and while canon law admitted the possibility a pope could resign, there were many who thought that, like those old disputes about what the church can do if a pope becomes a heretic, it was best consigned to ancient history, no longer applicable. This view was confirmed by a very modern theology and even mystique of the papacy that so identified the pope with Christ as to suggest that for him to resign would be to betray Christ. It seems that Pope Paul VI gave some thought to resigning, but a close adviser said that he wouldn’t because “he cannot come down from his cross.” Similar words were applied to Pope John Paul II as the church watched him fade away: “You don’t come down from the cross,” his former secretary said just the other day. It is not surprising, then, that many Catholics were stunned by Pope Benedict XVI’s act: “Can a pope resign?” one of my sisters telephoned to ask me.

Read the rest here.

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