In the past few years, the Pope has looked increasingly frail as external pressures mounted on the Church hierarchy. With top officials like Los Angeles Cardinal Mahony revealed as one who apparently knowingly aided and abetted criminal child abuse to protect the Church, perhaps the Pope realized that he could no longer effectively lead the Church in rebuilding its former prestige, power and bankroll. Considering that the Pope did not sanction Mahony, perhaps the Pope’s unexpected resignation will serve the Catholic Church well.
The real questions will be: will the next Pope be an agent of International Socialism and continue to encourage cross-border policies which effectively destroy a nation's sovereignty? Will the Church continue to advocate for sanctuary cities? Will the Church revamp its policies on protecting alleged pedophiles and cooperate with civilian law enforcement? Will the Church speak out on the Muslim persecution of Christian and take a harder stance against Muslim terrorism. And, will the next Pope be a third-world Black to restore some of the Church’s moral authority?
As Vatican leader Pope Benedict never had a chance
From the moment he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s on April 19, 2005, to greet the faithful, Benedict XVI faced an insurmountable problem: He was not John Paul II.
Benedict’s decision to resign the papacy is being blamed on his age – nearly 86 – and his health – never robust. He might just as well have been diagnosed with a broken papal heart.
Because his nearly eight years on the Throne of the Fisherman never really produced the results he hoped for. He did not unite the conservative and progressive wings of the Catholic Church. He did not re-establish its place in Europe, the work of a previous Pope Benedict and the reason he took that name. Nor did he expand its foothold in Asia, cement its dominance in Latin America, or make serious inroads in Africa. And he did not bring to fruition the ecumenical understanding with other major faiths that he hoped would bloom during his reign.
Benedict faced nearly impossible odds, even before he was elected. Joseph Ratzinger -- his given name -- was already white-haired and stooped when he became pope. He was a German of the World War II generation, and as a boy had served, involuntarily, as a member of the Hitler Youth.
By contrast, Benedict’s meek initial outings were public relations meltdowns. His smile, though genuine, looked somehow sinister, as if he were about to bite his audience. Determined to restore the Church’s luster in Europe, where it is often treated like a dotty old aunt, Benedict gave a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006 that appeared to denigrate Islam. The non-Catholic world howled; the Vatican cringed and apologized.
On his first visit to the U.S. as pope, Benedict offered contrite apologies for the Church’s ham-handed treatment of the U.S. church’s sex scandal involving its priests. Even the pope’s humble mien did not satisfy some, who pronounced him cold and unfeeling toward the plight of victims of clergy abuse.
I do not envy the next Pope who must find a way to turnaround a Church in crisis.