When the headline news reads, pope to resign at end of February, the automatic thing is to assume something is wrong.
And of course I assumed as much the moment I read that the Vatican had confirmed the Pope, Benedict the XVI is resigning at the End of February.
So I thought, wait a minute, this must have happened before and indeed it has. According to the Code of Canon Law, the pope can resign as long as there is proof he is doing so freely, although of course the church expects any pope to remain in office until death.
In history, some popes have resigned while others have been deposed off for various reasons. The first pope to resign was Pope St. Pontian in 230 during the persecution of Christians. He was sent to work in the salt mines in Sardinia and no one was expected to survive that ordeal, so he resigned.
The first pope to be forcibly deposed of was Pope St. Silverius in 536. He was removed because he would not approve Byzantine Empress Theodora’s heretics for bishops.
Now of course with Pope Benedict XVI resigning, there’s talk about his reasons stemming from his new book about the birth of Christ. But before you all go concluding that’s the case, it may not be.
After all when the Daily Mail published the headline, “Killjoy Pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions: New Jesus book reveals there were no donkeys beside crib, no lowing oxen and definitely no carols.” some argue it was the result of a poor translation from Italian.
But the pope is also advanced in age, and this of course has been given as the reason for his stepping down. But is there any young pope. By virtue of the job, its impossible to have a young pope since the experience needed to do the job means a younger man would be unsuitable. But then again, it is the signs of our times, that headlines run in ‘trusted‘ newspapers, leading to a lot of confusion, only for people to find later that they were inaccurate and not well researched. Is it any wonder the quotes they gave were not in the actual book?
Oh well, this move by Pope Benedict XVI has shown us if nothing, that we live in uncertain times and nothing it seems will go as expected. What’s next I wonder?