Pope announces resignation
Students express concern, respect for decision
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 02:02
Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world Monday when he announced his resignation from the papal office, becoming the first pope in 600 years to do so.
Benedict said he would step down from his position after serving only eight years as pope. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, held the position for 26 years.
“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,” Benedict said in his resignation speech.
For longer than most present Catholics can remember, the Pope has served a lifetime sentence. Father Will Straten of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in College Station said this is a precedent set many years ago.
“It is assumed that [the Pope] has to serve a lifetime sentence,” Straten said. “It is not a rule.”
The resignation of the pope was a surprise to all, and will undoubtedly have an effect on the Catholic community.
“The biggest effect is going to lie in who his successor is,” Straten said. “People have great respect for Pope Benedict. He has followed the teachings of the church. There will definitely be some disappointment, but a big reason that he is stepping down is because he doesn’t have the energy or ability to do what he needs to do as a pope. I think this is going to be more positive than negative.”
Texas A&M is home to a large population of Catholic students, some have expressed both their concern and their admiration of the pope for his resignation.
“When I woke up Monday morning, the first thing I read on my phone was that Pope Benedict was resigning,” said Brad Head, sophomore business administration major. “At first I was puzzled and wondered what problems led to his resignation, but after learning that it was health-related and knowing that he had the humility and courage to resign, speaks great volumes.”
The last time the Catholic Church had a pope resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Some say a new precedent will be set among leaders of the Catholic Church to be aware of their weaknesses, mortality and their ability to lead the church.
“If any future popes decide that they are not fulfilling the duties of pope or that they are too old or too ill, they can use Pope Benedict as an example,” said Joel Covarrubias, senior industrial distributions major. “I feel like this resignation sets a good precedent for future popes who feel as if they cannot do their job adequately anymore.”
After the pope’s resignation, he will no longer be referred to as ‘pope,’ but instead will be called Cardinal Ratzinger, his name before he was elected to the papacy in 2005. When he dies, he will again be referred to as Benedict XVI. His time as pope will officially end on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. At that point, the College of Cardinals will begin the process of selecting a new pope to lead the Catholic Church, and white smoke will once again rise from the Vatican.
“This is not a moment of sadness,” Head said. “But rather a great moment in history where we can acknowledge someone who is giving up power for the better of everyone else.”