Pope Benedict XVI’s short eight-year papacy came to end last week, making him the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to willingly walk away from his position as Holy See.
The spiritual leader to nearly 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, Benedict was infirmed, in a state of declining health that left him nearly blind and deaf.
Vatican paid millions and millions of dollars in settlements across the world stemming from the abuse of minors by priests, the cover-up of some of that having been traced to Benedict himself.
Be that as it may, Pope Benedict was for that faithful the North Star to their spiritual journey, just as Pope John Paul II before him, and whomever will take over after.
John Paul II withered beneath the saddening grip of Parkinson’s disease, dying in his papal role as so many popes before him. Pope Benedict apparently did not want to suffer a similar fate.
Ultimately, though, that is the right decision. These are trying times for the Catholic Church, beyond the charges of abuse, beyond the claims of poor governance over the past eight years. The Roman Catholic faith is in need of a strong, possibly forward-thinking pontiff that will restore the love and adoration people had for John Paul II.
The Catholic faith is strong in Imperial County, with an overwhelming majority of the Catholics here being of Mexican descent.
Moreover, the largest percentage of Roman Catholics in the world are in the Americas, with the highest populations in Brazil, Mexico and the United States. As of 2010, some 48.75 percent of the world’s Catholics are spread among the Caribbean and South, Central and North America.
Maybe what the Vatican needs today is an American pope, and by American we mean of the entire continent. A change of pace, a change of face and a focus on righting injustices and moving the faith forward could be the cornerstone of a new papacy, one that also keeps Catholicism steeped in tradition but acknowledges the modern challenges and lifestyles so many of the faithful lead today.
Benedict was German, John Paul II was Polish and before him, John Paul I was Italian, as so many before him had been. Leaving the European continent to find the right man would present its challenges, but it would also open up a new era of thinking and understanding.
If the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that tradition can be broken, which is exactly what we have with Benedict’s departure, his rewriting of the rules to speed up the Conclave and so many other things that have happened, for good or bad, in the past eight years.
It will be interesting to see if one more change in tradition is possible, the biggest change of all — an American pope.
Pope Benedict resigns.
He did the right thing, now more history could be made.
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