A Brief History
On February 11, 2013, the sitting Pope of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI, announced his resignation from the papacy. As no pope had voluntarily resigned in about 500 years, this news shocked the entire world, not just the Catholic world.
Born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria, he first became a priest, then an archbishop, then a cardinal before ascending to the papacy in 2005 when he succeeded Pope John Paul II. At one point fairly liberal, Benedict became much more conservative starting in 1968.
At his resignation at age 86, he claimed old age and infirmity (“lack of strength of mind and body”).
As this action was without modern precedent, and since the Pope had not exhibited any noticeable decline in health, speculations about his “real” reasons for resigning ran rampant. Benedict did suffer minor strokes in 1991 and 2005 and was known to have high blood pressure and a heart condition. Was it perhaps due to him being implicated in the sexual abuse scandal that has been dogging the Catholic Church for several years? He had been at the center of the sex abuse investigations while still a cardinal, so rumors of him being involved in a cover up were not surprising. Allegedly eager to take firm action against miscreant priests, he had been stifled by John Paul II and others in power.
17 days later, on February 28, 2013, Pope Francis took over as the Head of the Catholic Church, and Benedict entered his retirement as a sort of “Pope Emeritus.”
Not the most conventional of popes, Pope Francis has managed to make headlines with his very pragmatic, blunt and straight forward approach to things such as recently, on January 19, 2015, when he shocked the world with the statement that it was not necessary to “breeds like rabbits!” Yes, those very words came out of the mouth of the Pope! The Catholic Church has long been against the use of “artificial” birth control, presumably to ensure that many new Catholics keep being born, and Francis is not looking to change that policy, so to him less births probably means less sex or timed sex to correlate with a woman’s infertile times in the month. (Forms of sex other than standard intercourse are not allowed.) Apparently, the ridiculous overpopulation of third world countries has become obvious to His Holiness, and this admonition is his solution. Do you agree?
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