The history books will certainly be full of stories about Pope Benedict XVI… and in recent weeks he’s guaranteed that they will not all be related to his active time in the Papacy. The decision to resign is extraordinary in itself, as he will be the first living “former Pope” since Gregory XII resigned in 1415. Who says history is boring? And of course the Pope has spoken to the world regarding this decision, citing mounting health concerns as his primary reason to abdicate the office.
But one has to wonder if there is anything further to the story. Pope Benedict’s papacy hasn’t exactly been forward-thinking, at least not in his actions. He’s dealt with controversy since his term began, so even the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct by church officials is nothing new. Why the decision to break 598 years of precedent?
Everyone is fixated up the decision to resign, but it’s also important to observe what other actions are being taken leading up to the abdication. Less than a year ago, long-time butler Paolo Gabriele stole top-secret papal documents, was jailed and finally pardoned during Christmas time. Though the papers didn’t target the Pope directly, it was a major breach of confidentiality within the Vatican.
And this week, the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State has alleged that the Pope will seek “Legal Immunity” from the Italian government. The Vatican confirmed that Pope Benedict will be meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, but didn’t go into any details regarding the meeting. Reverend Kevin Arnett of the ITCCS made this allegation in an official letter to the Italian government.
If found to be true, this opens up a bunch of new questions, some of which simply cannot be ignored. If Pope Benedict (soon to be known again by his birthname Joseph Ratzinger) is only retiring for health reasons, why would he need to seek legal immunity? As a former close servant to the Pope, does Paolo Gabriele have any information regarding this new developement?
No matter what one may personally think of the Catholic church, it is still an organization that has over one Billion followers, and its actions reach every corner of the globe. It is a gigantic provider of care for the poor, and needy. Which is why it is perhaps more important than ever before that the world receives answers about wrongs conducted by church officials.
Even if those officials were once the Pope.