Thoughts on the Pope’s resignation

I have been a proud Roman Catholic for 20 years.  Needless to say, the text I received several weeks ago from my dad telling me that our church’s leader, Pope Benedict XVI, had resigned came as a bit of a shock.  Anxious to find out exactly what had happened, I immediately logged onto Twitter.  What I found was a combination of “Captain Obvious” tweets (oh my gosh the pope resigned!), conspiracy theorists alluding to sex abuse cover-ups and offerings of prayers and sympathy.  Later, the Vatican did in fact release a statement that Pope Benedict, whose given name is Joseph Ratzinger, had resigned due to age and poor health which, according to the Vatican’s statement, made him “no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
However, this did not satisfy some critics of the Pope and the Catholic Church.  Many are of the opinion that Benedict XVI was forced out due to sex abuse scandals within the church.  Now, I understand when a pope steps down prematurely, and for the first time since the Middle Ages, people are generally going to question the motive.  Despite this, it is still difficult to see the ignorant and hateful messages being directed at the man who strongly and lovingly guided the Catholic Church for eight years, despite being in the shadow of arguably one of the best popes of all time, John Paul II.  True, child abuse has been a problem in the church in recent years, but I find it somewhat difficult to accept accusing a kind-hearted old man, who has dedicated his life to Christ and acts as His representative on Earth, of covering up abuse crimes.  It is a fairly extreme view to think that the Pope was forced out by these claims. It seems his resignation was nothing more than a man who had become too elderly and sick to continue to do the job to the best of his ability.
As for the new pope, Francis I (formerly Jorge Bergoglio), he inherits a difficult job as he moves the church into the future.  Francis, age 76, is the first ever non-European pope elected and has done extensive work with the poor in his home country of Argentina.  I and many others are excited to see where he is able to take the Catholic Church in the coming years, and what kind of work he is able to in spreading the gospel and especially ministering to the poor.  

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