Image Courtesy of M.Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/Flickr
Pope Benedict XVI is retiring.
Wow. I didn’t know Popes were allowed to do that.
Known for his tenacious defense of church doctrine and awkward handling of sex scandals, Benedict has been the Supreme Pontiff for 8 years. He has been a contentious figure for his opposition to abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage, and admired for his outreach to other faiths. His retirement has elicited statements of sadness and respect as well as some statements closer to “good riddance.”
With the Church struggling to keep up with modernization and globalization trends, the Cardinals’ choice for his successor will be a watershed moment in the modern history of Catholicism. Seismic change could be coming.
Although it seems unlikely that the next pope will break with Benedict and his predecessor Pope John Paul II’s conservative philosophy, a geographic break could be in the offering instead. Uncertainty and suspicion abounds over whether the next pope could be Canadian, African or even American.
Considering the immense authority and following held by the head of the world’s one billion Catholics, a move to embrace multiculturalism could have a profound impact on the future of the church and it’s impact on social issues worldwide.
Even if you’re not Catholic, we should all thank Pope Benedict for his service to the people of the world and wish him well in his retirement.