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Quitting may be Pope's best achievement

Published 14/02/2013

The news that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning causes me to be both glad and sad.

The glad part is that an ultra-conservative theologian who, in spite of the experience of the papacy, has not changed his beliefs one bit, is departing the scene and is possibly offering the Church a chance to catch up with the 21st century.

An old man, no matter how well-intentioned, who finds the time to write three books while he is Pope, is not the right leader for the Church.

A good example of the small-mindedness of the Church under Benedict was the minor changes made to the vernacular of the Mass.

Against a background of controversy on topics such as abortion, married priests, women priests, contraception, the dubious finances of the Vatican Bank and clerical sex abuse, minor changes to the text of the Mass smacked of worrying about the colour of the deck chairs on the Titanic while it sank.

The sad part is that it took an ultra-conservative like Benedict to break the rather outdated tradition of popes dying in office.

Until this week, popes insisted on dying with their crown on. How many problems over the years were neglected because of papal incapacity, or old age?

While the irony of an ultra-conservative Pope breaking 600 years of tradition is startling, in time it may be regarded as Benedict's finest achievement.

liam cooke

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