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Medicine Science

Pope To Resign Citing Advanced Age 542

Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month in an unexpected development, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85. In a statement, the pontiff said: '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.' Resignations from the papacy are not unknown, but this is the first in the modern era, which has been marked by pontiffs dying while in office."
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Pope To Resign Citing Advanced Age

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  • Re:Infallible? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:27PM (#42860071)

    I'm no religion nerd, but my understanding is the infallibility is vested in the job position not the person.

    There's a lot of BS and propaganda about the whole papal infallibility thing... you have to realize the cardinals and pope have spent centuries fighting over who's really in charge, and by fighting I mean literally to the death by sword and poison. So "recently" a strongman (relatively...) gets in power and as a weapon he declares he's the boss and everyone else aka his opponents (the cardinals) are his underlings. Frankly not all that exciting. When even a guy like me sees it as a pretty simple political play as opposed to religious mythology, using the political play to make fun of the catholics just isn't funny anymore. I would not be surprised if when the cardinals gain supremacy they put a guy in who reverses that declaration and makes the college of cardinals infallible as the leaders and declares the bishop of rome as merely first among equals... Its politics not theology. Or at most, theological politics.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ravenscar ( 1662985 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:37PM (#42860203)

    Seriously? So what? I'm pretty sure that a change in the religious leadership for over 1 billion people spread across the entire globe fits in the "stuff that matters" category. The guidance of the pope strongly influences the way that a very large number of people think about important topics such as family planning, the role of government, charity, women's issues, the relationship between religions, and more.

    I'm an atheist from 'Murica and even I understand the potential significance of such a change. I mean, it probably isn't as important as DRM on video games or complaining about Apple, but it merits a spot in the list.

  • Re:Too bad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobertNotBob ( 597987 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:42PM (#42860299)


    Recent history shows he doesn't have to resign early to affect his succession. If you were watching in 2005 you would know that Pope John Paul II did exactly that and basically put him (the current Pope) into office as his hand-picked successor. Look at nearly any picture of the previous Pope in the last few years of his life and you're see the the man who became Benidict XVI in the same frame.

    Not like this is any big scandal. - It's totally natural to be concerned about who takes over when you leave.

    AND, leaders (religious, political or even corporate) selecting others who are like minded is called "Organizational Consistency" and is not a ""bad word"" in most places.

  • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:42PM (#42860307)

    For a site filled with pedants, it's odd how many members forget the "stuff that matters" part of the slogan. The Catholic church has a membership of over 1 billion people, and a change in pope can affect how those people -- and especially their kids -- view certain issues, including scientific issues (albeit, the Catholics are nothing like evangelists).

  • by Apathist ( 741707 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:00PM (#42860543)

    People like you are what's wrong with organized religion and one of the primary reasons of why I am atheist. The people that run the Vatican and those in the past that have stood up and protected that power structure at all costs are fallible mortals. Shut up and deal with it or I'll throw you in with Scientology.

    I dunno about you, but I'm an atheist because there simply aren't any gods... but an anti-theist because of the way faith and religion makes people behave. Small difference, perhaps, but I wouldn't want people to believe that my objective interpretation of reality is merely a response to the way those pricks behave.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:05PM (#42860641) Journal

    Please point me to some citations on this. All the information I can find says that the rate of molestations are near identical to every other profession in which exposure to children is part of it.

    This number is higher then a number for the general population. I think it has to do with those who would harm the children actively seeking out avenues to be exposed to them.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:27PM (#42861067) Journal

    This affects a large chunk of the planet's population and hasn't happened in 600 years.

    Exactly. In a nerd world where "achievements" are virtual tasks completed in a virtual environment that has not been accomplished by anyone else in the last 5.2 seconds and "major events" involve hundreds of people around the world converging on a server for a virtual battle that causes a virtual time dilation, an event that has not occurred for 598 years (to be exact) an pd affects a billion people around the world is significant as "stuff that matters."

  • by rmandevi ( 2168940 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:31PM (#42861151)

    While the Church is a church of forgiveness, it is not a Church of forgetfulness. The Church can decide not to punish a molesting priest, but it should realize that it has a problem with that priest and should not let that priest around children again.

    For the record, policy in the USA requires any Church members (from bishops down to Religious Education teachers) are required to take a course in child abuse detection and prevention (sexual and otherwise). One of the things that they teach there is if they see signs of abuse from anybody, they are to inform both the Church and the local constabulary.

    The reasons that the Catholics have been singled out on the abuse angle are roughly:
    1: We are expected to be held to a higher moral standard than even other churches, as well we should be
    2: There are an awful lot of priests there. Roughly a third of the US Christian population is Catholic, and no other church has a quarter as many members as the Catholic church does. Again, more reason to keep our noses (and other parts) clean.
    3: The ugly reason is that the Catholic Church is organized different from other churches, and thus easier to sue for big money. Because we are an authoritarian church, ownership is by hierarchy. When the scandal started up in Boston (the archidiocese I grew up in), people weren't suing a priest, or that priest's church, but the archdiocese itself, which draws its income from every Catholic church in the Greater Boston area.

    None of these should be taken as excusing things that the Church and priests, but I do note that the above reasons may explain why we don't see similar scandals rocking other churches. I highly doubt that the Catholics have cornered the market on molesting clergy.

    For my money, the fact that these pedophiles exist in the Church is horrible, but in a way understandable. Any large group will have some bad apples, and it's impossible to weed them all out. The fact that the Church had been protecting these priests [em]as policy[/em] is much worse. I for one would have loved to see Cardinal Law explain himself to a grand jury, and think in retrospect that Pope John Paul II did us all a disservice by getting him out of the country before that could happen.

  • Re:What a quitter! (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:50PM (#42861469)

    The bible only says that an advanced intelligence terraformed Earth and genetically enhanced primates. Never said God was omnipotent. Christ-fags and atheist-fags both can't read for shit or think outside the box.

    You slash-fags will sit here all day and think little green men can fly around the cosmos in spaceships faster than light, but you think it impossible that an alien race would create a new species for shits and giggles.

  • by fascismforthepeople ( 2805977 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:00PM (#42861627) Homepage Journal
    It is likely no coincidence that there is also a front page article today about the top fascist candidate in the US [], who has quite a few supporters here on slashdot. While he is undoubtedly a cult leader in his own right, I will have to pop the bubbles of his followers and point out that he would't want to be the primate of catholicism. I say this because while it is (generally) a lifetime appointment, it wields nowhere near the amount of power - and has far too many restrictions - for his tastes.

    Hell, he wouldn't even have trouble with the spirit of the requirement for priest chastity, as it is designed to ensure that the church inherits the belongings of the clergy upon their death. However he doesn't need to lead the catholic church when he already has his own army of devoted followers.
  • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:25PM (#42862031)

    No, as as has been pointed out, there have been other Popes who have resigned short of death, but just not for health reasons, in at least a 1000 years. Before AD 1000 I am not sure how often Popes resigned, but after AD 1000 4 have, including the current one.

    The first one after AD 1000, Benedict IX, resigned either because he A) Sold the office or )B wanted to get married, depending on the sources you believe.

    Interestingly, he was also supposed have been the first gay Pope, and he held orgies in the Lateran palace. []

    I really wish the next pope would be more like this one.

  • Re:So (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:38PM (#42862271)

    If you read into it deeper, it gets a lot more interesting. Hell, you could almost write a full book just on why the popes that retired did, and what happened to them.

    The 1415 resignation wasn't really by choice. He entered into an agreement such that he would abandon the pope title if the other anti-popes (people calling themselves pope, but weren't actually pope according to the official records) would abandon their titles too. Obviously, the winner writes the history books, so with all of that mess, the 1415 guy stepped down and things got a bit more normal.

    Another one, Pope Celestine retired (1294), but the new pope put in place after him hated him so much the retired guy was captured, slammed into a jail cell, and rotted the rest of his life away there until he died.

    And messier still, Pope Benedict IX was made pope because his dad gave it to him. He was ridiculously young, is said to have done all kinds of stupid shit. He was kicked out and replaced, came back with his high-up connections and took the popehood back,sold it, and then came back later to claim it yet a third time. The only pope who's been pope more than once (3 times officially), AND the only one to have sold the title for riches.

    Isn't the history of the church just so full of love and respect?

    A good place to start with having a pile of links and citations:

  • by frosty_tsm ( 933163 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:40PM (#42864373)

    I know this is going to kill my mod points, but I'll throw it out anyway...

    What if WWII wasn't the worst thing in the web of possible 20th century events? What if there was no WWII and the Cold War started pre or early-nuke with a (mostly) demilitarized Europe and America had minimal troops and arms factories setup (as is the case in almost every "somebody went back in time and killed Hitler" story)? What if the European powers continued pointless and frequent war, treating it as a sport as they did in the 19th century and before?

    If you look at WWII as the almost-inevitable epilogue to WWI due to the terms put on Germany, WWI/WWII were sort of the "War to end all wars [in Europe]" (ignoring smaller, regional conflicts). No one has invaded London, Paris, Berlin (although it was divided), Brussels, or Rome in almost 70 years.

  • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @06:07PM (#42865661)

    The counterpoint to this argument is the following:
    Assume that you are a lawyer for a criminal who is at a trial for murder. Your client admitted it, people saw him do it, there's video of him doing it, audio, 300 witnesses, etc. In short, there's no doubt he did it. But you stand up and tell the jury that, despite all this evidence, they should not convict because there is some possibility that some unspecified evidence at some point in the future may come to light that will exonerate your client.

    As a jury person, I'd laugh at you. We have to judge based on the evidence we have, and the best evidence is that if Hitler had died or was killed, WWII would not have gone on as long, and there would have been many less casualties of the war. WHile it's possible something worse could have occurred, most historians agree that WWII would have ended much quicker if Hitler was not in charge, and it likely would not have occurred at all. He drove that war. So yes, maybe God knows that something worse would have happened, but I have to make my choice about the evil or goodness of the Christian God directly in front of me, and I choose to believe that a good God would not have allowed WWII to go on...and would have given Hitler the flu or something similar.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"