News / Europe

Analysts: Benedict Departure Will Leave Little Room for Change

The announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign on Feb. 28 shocked Catholics and non-Catholics alike. But after the conservatism of his papacy and that of his predecessor John Paul II, analysts say Benedict’s successor is unlikely to bring major change to a church shaken by scandal and declining faith.

In the crypt of the Washington Basilica, America's largest Roman Catholic church, Monsignor Vito Buonanno echoed the shock many Catholics felt over the first papal resignation in six centuries.

"We ask the Lord to steady us at this time of uncertainty," he said.

But Buonanno says he understands why Benedict XVI decided he no longer should be the leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics.

"This must have been a very difficult decision. And that I respect very much because I know this was something that was seriously thought over and prayed over," Buonanno said.

The pope did leave hints, says spokesman Don Clemmer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"In April 2009, he visited the tomb of Pope Celestine V who resigned in the year 1294, one of the only popes ever to do so. Small symbolic things, but maybe hints, that this was on his mind," Clemmer said.

But the resignation comes as Evangelical Protestant churches are on the rise in the developing world and the Church is dealing with a corruption scandal involving the Pope's butler.

Benedict did take uprecedented steps against pedophile priests, says Clemmer.

"And as pope he’s met with victims in various countries around the world and also had sexual abuse of a child classified as one of the gravest crimes against the church," he said.

Some European commentators are suggesting that Benedict was pushed out because of those efforts.

Chester Gillis is a theology professor and dean of Georgetown College in Washington. He dismisses that theory.

"I do not think that he would have succumbed to some international or external pressure to resign. There’s been lots of pressure on every pope historically, and they’ve stayed around. So I think this was a deliberate choice on his part," Gillis said.

He says the legacy left by Benedict and John Paul II is an arch-conservative church out of step with many Roman Catholics.

"And if they get another really hardline conservative they may say, 'Okay, enough, I’m out.' And some conservatives would say, 'That’s fine we don’t need them,'" Gillis said.

Benedict himself does not officially have a vote over who will be his successor. But more than half the cardinals who do, were appointed by him.

Ron Johnson says there are some qualities he would welcome in the next pontiff.

"I hope the next pope is a lot like John Paul II - someone who is outgoing, who is energetic, who is bilingual. A person of color perhaps even," Johnson said.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs