Pope Benedict XVI's abrupt resignation on Monday heralds the end of a sad and storm-tossed seven-year papacy.So far as I can remember, child abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church were first revealed in south Louisiana even earlier than the exposure in the Archdiocese of Boston, but the national media gave the story little attention. I suppose the newspeople thought the abuse was confined to the backward crazies in the Dioceses of Lafayette and Houma/Thibodaux in Louisiana. I left the church, not only due to the many instances of child abuse, but especially because of the cover-up. If the matter of child abuse had been handled properly from the beginning, the RCC would have saved itself a load of grief. The Diocese of Houma/Thibodaux is small, and I knew too much about the cover-up and paying victims to keep silent be able to stay in the church in good conscience. Since then, I have not looked back, for if I had not left in 1996, the more recent actions and words of the leadership of the RCC would have caused me to make my departure many times over.
The former Joseph Ratzinger came to the highest office in the Roman Catholic church with a reputation as a challenging, conservative intellectual. But the messages he sought to convey were all but drowned out, first by a string of controversies that were largely of his making, and subsequently by the outcry – particularly in Europe – over sexual abuse of young people by Catholic clerics.
Having said that, I am shocked at the resignation. John Paul II carried on long past the time he should have stepped down, and I thought Benedict would do the same. Popes don't resign; it's been a long, long time - 600 years - since a pope did so.
One of Benedict's goals was to re-evangelize Europe. We see how well that worked out. Since the two popes, John Paul II and Benedict, served respectively for 27 and 7 years, each had many opportunities to appoint cardinals of the conservative persuasion, therefore I do not expect the next pope will be a flaming liberal. In fact, if the successor turns out to be a moderate, I will be greatly surprised. But then, God often surprises us, so we shall see.
Update from MuckRack: The journalist who scooped all the reporters on the story, Giovanna Chirri, a reporter for Italy's ANSA news agency, heard the pope's announcement of his resignation in Latin and understood what he said, which shows that Latin is not a completely dead language.