It was announced this morning that Pope Benedict XVI will abdicate on February 28. The 85-year-old Pope sites that he no longer has the strength to perform his duties.
I posted this news here today because many do consider the papacy an elective monarchy while some consider it a theocracy. I have always considered the Papacy an elective monarchy and its history with the Emperors and Kings of Europe is intertwined.
Coming on the heels of the news of the coming abdication of Her Majesty, the Queen of the Netherlands this does raise the debate once again should a monarch abdicate when they reach an advanced age when they feel they can no longer carry out their duties?
The predecessor to Benedict XVI was Pope John Paul II who continued to reign even when he could not walk or speak well. This is no criticism on Benedict XVI’s decision to abdicate, I just think that with people living longer in the past it is really necessary for them to suffer through with their duties while in ill-health?
The last pope to step aside was Gregory XII in 1415, who did so in order to end the Great Western Schism. I wonder if this will set a precedent for future popes? John Paul II was the first Pope to not have a Papal Coronation and Benedict XVI followed suit. This demonstrates the Vatican is capable of change!
Benedict XVI became Pope in 2005 and his papcy has been rocked by scandal. Also, he is a very Conservative Pope and from my readings there are many Catholics who desire a Pope that is more progressive to make what they seem as necessary changes to the Church.
After the 28th of February the conclave of Cardinals will convene in the Vatican to elect the next Pope.