News / Europe

Pope's Resignation Could be Turning Point for Church

Pope's Resignation Could be Turning Point for Churchi
X
February 14, 2013 7:34 PM
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI marks a turning point for the 1.2 billion-member global Roman Catholic Church. But VOA's Al Pessin reports from Rome that if history is any guide, the turn will likely be gradual.
Al Pessin
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI marks a turning point for the 1.2 billion-member global Roman Catholic Church.  But if history is any guide, the turn will likely be gradual.

Hundreds of the faithful stood reverently in front of large television screens on St. Peter's Square on a chilly evening, to be close by as Pope Benedict led his final scheduled mass on Ash Wednesday. The pope thanked all those who had helped him during his eight-year papacy, and asked them to pray for him.

The retirement of the 85-year-old pontiff opens the way for church leaders to move toward reforms that many of the faithful would like to see, on issues like the pedophilia scandal, birth control, tolerance for homosexuals and the role of women. That will largely be up to his successor, who may have been among the dozens of cardinals who attended Wednesday's mass.

But veteran reporter Sean-Patrick Lovett of Vatican Radio warns against expecting any dramatic changes.

"The Catholic Church is not about change, it's not a democracy," Lovett said. "It's about continuity, and doctrine is very unlikely to change no matter who becomes pope."

One high priority for any new pope will have to be the scandal over sexual abuse by priests.  But the current pope's official apology and new guidelines are about as much as can be done, said Lovett.

"I'm sure the next pope will continue to meet with victims, will continue to make sure that these policies are set in place and ensure that none of this ever happens again," he said.

Still, some people think the new pope will have to do more, including Vatican correspondent Alessandro Speciale of the Religion News Service.

"He will have to tackle the sex abuse crisis head on, and he will have to do it pro-actively, before the crisis erupts," he said.

Preventing further abuse is particularly important for the church's main growth areas, Africa and Latin America, he said. Some observers believe the next pope may come from one of those areas, but Speciale said even that would not necessarily signal major policy changes.

"The symbolic value of an African pope would be unimaginable, but how different in terms of policies and approach, that would depend on who exactly this pope is," he said.

People visiting the Vatican, in the days after the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years, were not expecting big policy changes, but were open to the idea of a southern hemisphere pope.

"It doesn't matter where you're from. It's all about your faith and your commitment to the job," said one visitor.

"I think it will open the eyes of the people, particularly in the Western world, the developed world, into what's going on in the countries of the Third World," said another.

It is a rare moment for Catholics to be able to say farewell to a pope, and to contemplate the future, without the sadness of a pope's death.  It will also be rare for a new pope, whatever he wants to do, to feel his predecessor's presence quite so strongly.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David Tiffany
February 14, 2013 7:24 PM
One of the turning points that I hope for the members of this assembly is that they understand Jesus never taught a Gospel of works. He taught a Gospel of grace.

Another point is the issue of the Palestinian/Jewish conflict. The Scriptures teach that the land of Israel belongs to, and will always belong to, the Jews.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid