In the 13th century, Pope Gregory XII resigned during the Western Schism.
While he and two other men vied for full religious authority, Europe’s borders and citizens were torn in directions of obedience.
As a way to re-stitch the split and heal the fractions of Europe, Gregory resigned and ultimately improved the continent’s cohesion.
Six centuries later, it’s a different story.
The Vatican is currently wrought with allegations of gay sex, pedophilia and genderized ideals.
The pope is relinquishing power of the pulpit based on claims of old age.
However, the last time a pope stepped down, the decision stemmed from political degeneration.
According to The New York Times, Pope Benedict XVI, 86, has shown signs of advanced aging for quite some time.
He was seen dozing off during the Christmas Eve Mass and had to be taken from the altar of St. Peters on a wheeled platform.
His body, as well as mind, may be deteriorating, but his timing could not be more convenient.
During an ordinary meeting of the canonization of three potential saints, the pope said, “Before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise,” referring to his religious rein over the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.
“If you’ve seen videos of him you can see he is very frail. He cannot fulfill the duties that he has as pope. But I don’t think it was the scandal that attributed to his decision,” said Patrick Humpal, a DePaul sophomore and religious education assistant.
While the pope stepping down from his position seems scandalous enough, serious threats to the integrity of the Catholic Church stem from British Cardinal Keith O’Brien and his relation to “inappropriate acts” surrounding four other men.
According to The New York Times, Benedict was aware of these misappropriations one week before his official resignation Feb. 11.
However, he had planned in secret to resign several months prior to O’Brien’s allegations.
Of the men coming forward, one claims the cardinal made an “inappropriate approach” after a nighttime prayer session at a seminarian school in 1980.
Another man said he was offered the opportunity to spend a week “getting to know the cardinal” at a home in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Vatican believes that the news reports alleging O’Brien’s obstruction of the priesthood are a fear tactic designed to push the upcoming papal electors into picking a more conservative pope.
O’Brien resigned from his position Feb. 25.
According to The New York Times, he once rebuked a Scottish bishop who spoke of denying homosexuals a chance of teaching in Catholic schools. He even hopes the new pope will lift the ban on celibacy.
“I think it’s a disgrace that anyone in higher office, especially a cardinal, is facing the allegations. I really think that it just paints a bad picture of the church. People are starting to stigmatize that all Catholic priests are pedophiles,” said Humpal.
As an opportunity to revitalize the face of Catholicism is now apparent, it is unclear which direction the Vatican will move.
The next election could signify a more tolerant stance on issues like sexuality and procreation for members of the priesthood. Or it could continue to uphold secular standards while averting a real chance for change.