February 12, 2013

Eight years after he was chosen as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict the XVI resigns from his position as leader of the Church. His decision to step down came as a shock and surprise to Catholics around the world. For the first time in more than 600 years of the Church’s existence, a sitting Pope broke the long tradition that saw his predecessors remain in office until they’re called to the great beyond.

The 85-year- old cited his health among other reasons as responsible for his decision to call it quit. He has expressed desire to finally step down by March, setting the stage for a conclave to elect a new Pope for the Catholic Church. The development created interest over whom the next Pope would be and where he might come from. Many believe the next Pope should come from Africa, the region that has seen a dramatic growth in congregation in the past decade.

Finding a non conservative Pope for the Church might be difficult bearing in mind, the entire College of Cardinals has been appointed by Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. If the College decides on a Pope from Africa, the top contenders are the 80-year-old Francis Arinze of Nigeria and Ghanaian Peter Turkson. Canadian Cardinal Mark Quellect is among the top runners, while Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Archbishop of Milan is seen as a possible pick.

From Central America, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez is viewed as a likely choice, while the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn is another possible successor to Benedict XVI. In the United States, the news generated mixed opinion. Many believe the Pope’s decision, reflects his concern and consideration on the need for leadership to change hands, at a crucial time in the History of the Roman Catholic Church. Others weighed in on the possibility the next Pope might come from New York, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan seen as having a good shot at the highest Post in Rome.

The past few years, the Church has been criticized for its handling of sexual abuse allegations leveled against some of its Priest especially, in the United States, where there are still pending law suits over clerical sex Scandal. The poor image led to a declining membership in the United States and the West, while private and public donations to the Church have decreased since allegations of sexual misconduct emerged. The Church has been implored to review its conservative position on celibacy, gay marriage, its ban on contraception and strict position on abortion.

The decision by Benedict XVI to step down while unexpected signaled a movement to an era of restructuring and leadership, likely to reshape the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict has portrayed himself as a respectful, humble individual and a man of God, who would not allow self interest to override running of the billion member Church. While this is a big transition in history of the Church, the move is unlikely to erode the Church’s conservative principles.

Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.


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