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By JACKY TAMEZ
The Western Schism marks a time when three men claimed to be the legitimate pope.
In order to end this feud, Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, the last pope to do so. Nearly 600 years later, on Monday, Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign from his position by the end of the month.
The Catholic church views the pope as the direct link to God. As the church searches and chooses a new pope, it is important for believers to pray and ask God to guide the cardinals as they make their decision. Many people’s faith is rooted in the church’s doctrine. It is the cardinals’ responsibility to elect a person that is able to lead the church in the right direction.
The news came as a shock to over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics who view the pope not only as the church’s leader but also as God’s representative on earth. According to CNN, the pope’s reason for resigning is advanced age.
“Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” Benedict said.
The pope is highly admired and respected, but he is also human. Benedict recognizes that he is physically inadequate to fulfill the duties that are required of him and would rather step down than allow the ministry to suffer. It is admirable for such an influential person to willingly resign from a high position since not many people have the courage to do it.
Pope Benedict XVI was elected on April 19, 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II and will resign after seven years, 10 months and three days, one of the shortest terms as pope in history. During his papacy, the pope addressed controversies such as the clergy sex abuse scandal in which new rules were passed that allowed church prosecution of suspected molesters for 20 years after the incident occurred.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the next pope could be elected by Easter. Benedict will not have a direct involvement in the election of the next pope, but his presence will be felt since he appointed 67 of the 117 cardinals that will make the decision.