Derivative Work. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI since 2005) on May 10, 2003, during the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Stanislaus in Szczepanów, Poland. Picture taken by Janusz Stachoń and released under CC-BY license by Szamil (www.szczepanow.pl). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Bob Barney
The world was shocked when Pope Benedict announced his retirement- the first pope to do so in 600 years. The baffling question of why he made the decision remains a mystery. In his first public appearance since his announcement, he told the audience in Italian what he had told cardinals on Monday in Latin: that he simply did not have the strength to continue. He said 'I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.' He asked the faithful 'to continue to pray for the pope and the church.'
Does this make sense? Perhaps, but there may be a more practical reason why the pope went this route. I think, because of the schism in the church between the liberal socialist element and the more conservative European element, Benedict decided by being alive while his predecessor is selected, would give him more control in moving the decision from one that he would have no control over (being dead) to one in which he could use his influence to keep the church in step with the vision of Pope John Paul II, his mentor and great friend.