What Are the Ramifications of Papal Abdication?

A sign from God? Lighting strikes the basilica of St.Peter’s dome earlier this evening during a storm that struck Rome on the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. (Daily Mail)

The recent abdication of the papacy by Pope Benedict XVI, although not unprecedented, is certainly not “business as usual” for the Roman Catholic Church. The last time a Pope resigned was some six centuries ago.

According to Dr. Scott Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Pope Benedict XVI left several clues that his decision to step down was imminent (hat tip: Gateway Pundit):

“Back on April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but which went largely unnoticed. He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!

“Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Celestine V. At the time, however, few people seemed to notice.

“Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. These actions were probably more than pious acts. More likely, they were profound and symbolic gestures of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a Pope can hardly deliver any other way.

“In the year 1294, this man, Father Pietro Angelerio, known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected Pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected Pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right. And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.”

Saint Pope Celestine V is entombed in L’Aquila. After an earthquake there, Pope Benedict XVI visited Celestine’s shrine and left the woolen pallium he wore during his papal inauguration in April 2005 on his glass casket as a gift. Celestine also retired as pope. He was then imprisoned and died in jail a year later. (Mundus Tranquillare Hic)

The abdication leaves some pressing questions for the Roman Catholic Church.

Rhymes With Right reported:

The decision of Pope Benedict XVI to step down from the papacy leads to a number of interesting procedural questions. The canonical practice is for the conclave to begin 15 to 20 days following the death of the pontiff. However, Benedict is not dead and his resignation is not set to take effect until February 28. Does the waiting period start today, or does it begin on February 28? In other words, may the conclave begin on March 1, or must the College of Cardinals wait to assemble until March 15 – or even March 20? This is a matter of interest because of the timing of the resignation – Ash Wednesday is February 13, and Easter is March 31. The later the starting date, the more likely there will be a clash between the celebrations of Holy Week and the installation of the next pope.

American Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan is allegedly in the running to replace Pope Benedict XVI as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Dolan has been labeled a “conservative”—the voice of U.S. Catholicism by some.

American Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Yet Cliff Kincaid reports Dolan is the leader of a campaign to promote Marxist Dorothy Day for Sainthood:

But Carol Byrne, author of The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis, says Dolan manipulated a vote by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last November to move forward with the canonization of Dorothy Day, even though The New York Times itself noted that some of the Bishops said “she had an abortion as a young woman and at one point flirted with joining the Communist Party.”

The conclave to elect a new Pope may or may not be a quick one; but it sure will be an interesting one. Buckle up and stay tuned.

About Brent Parrish

Author, blogger, editor, researcher, graphic artist, software engineer, carpenter, woodworker, guitar shredder and a strict constitutionalist. Member of the Watcher's Council and the Qatar Awareness Campaign. I believe in individual rights, limited government, fiscal responsibility and a strong defense. ONE WORD: FREEDOM!
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