Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Four Words I Thought I’d Never Write: Pope Benedict Steps Down

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This morning, after I saw the headlines that Pope Benedict XVI plans to step down as of February 28, 2013, I knew I had to write this blog.

Now, why is this such a headline-making event?  It’s simple: Most Popes die in office.

In fact, Pope Benedict is the first Pope since 1415 to voluntarily step down, according to Sky News.  And the reason is simple: he is a frail man now at age 85, and he says a younger and stronger man is needed.

According to the article from Reuters (found via

In a statement, the pope said in order to govern “…both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

Pope Benedict had the unenviable job of following John Paul II as Pope, and for the most part did a good job.  While not perfect (he angered many Muslims with some ill-advised comments), he visited Auschwitz, prayed with Jews and Muslims, and was active in trying to root out pedophile priests (and those who covered for them) in the Catholic Church, paying close attention to Ireland and the United States in particular.

Whenever a major religious leader steps down or passes on, it’s a solemn occasion.  But it’s less solemn when someone actually realizes his time has passed and steps down rather than dies in office.

Good for Pope Benedict for realizing that he’s older now and not up to the task of the heavy workload of a modern-day Pope.

My hope for him is that he’ll enjoy the remainder of his life as a retired Pope, odd as that sounds, and that he’ll continue to work to remove pedophiles from the priesthood even in retirement as best he’s able.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 11, 2013 at 8:58 am

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