Skip to comments.Can a Pope Ever Resign?
Posted on 01/11/2013 11:33:05 AM PST by Weiss White
Q: I read in a news article that Pope Benedict said he would resign, if he reached the point where he couldnt physically handle being Pope any longer. Is that even possible? Can a Pope ever resign? Scott
A: Its true that in the nearly eight years of Pope Benedicts reign, more than one news article has been written on this subject. Its of particularly keen interest to those opposed to his teachings, who would gladly see him leave the Throne of Peter as soon as possiblebut its of interest to many of the rest of us as well, if only as a matter of curiosity. Can Benedict XVI, or any future Pope, resign if he wants to?
Only one canon of the entire Code of Canon Law makes any mention of this.
(Excerpt) Read more at canonlawmadeeasy.com ...
At least one pope abdicated. Celestine V did so in 1294
It’s just as important to ask why a Pope would want to resign, as there are several possibly good reasons reasons if not other than, but in addition to age and health.
One of the errors of many great leaders is that they neither prepare, appoint wisely, or have any involvement in choosing their successor. But having a mediocre or poor successor can, in a manner of speech, “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory”.
Thus, retirement might have in mind the appointment of a successor who will offer the position more vitality and stamina when he is younger, and stability in the appointment when stability is important.
Abdication=Resignation. Employees and Senators resign. Royalty abdicates. Actually a pope doesn’t abdicate because he is elected. The job is not his due to inheritance or conquest.
So what do you call it when a pope leaves his job? And what do you call it if an elected king leaves his job? Some kingdoms such as Poland elected their kings, and the Holy Roman Empire elected its emperors, but I don't know if any of these rulers renounced the throne.
The English translation of the Canon Law says “resign.”
The Latin translation (not sure if it was around in 1294) says “renuntiet” - same root as “renounce.”)
Pope Benedict has named many, if not most, of the Cardinals who will select his successor.
If a pope is infallible any decision he makes should be infallible.
This presents a problem. Assume a leader has a 50/50 chance of picking a really good successor. The same chance also applies to those he chooses to pick his successor. So you’re getting down to a 25% chance.
John Paul II very carefully groomed Benedict to be his successor. An excellent choice, with a proven track record in The Holy Office, which is what JPII figured would be the best background for his successor.
So the first question for Benedict is what does he think will be the most advantageous background for what his successor will do?
The next question for a prospective candidate should be their aptitude for selecting an effective staff, as a good leader becomes a great leader with the help of his staff. If nothing else, they take care of the little things, so he has more time to spend on the big things.
A Pope resigns. It has happened it was called “resigned” rather than abdicated. I don’t know about elected kings. The traditional use of the words would seem to rule out “abdication” for an elected king. You abdicate when the duty has been thrust upon you because you are the Rightful King by blood. One generally abdicates in favor of another in the appropriate bloodline.One doesn’t normally resign in favor of someone else. One just resigns. The king is abdicating a position to which he is entitled, even required to take. The resignee just doesn’t want the job. One abdicates one’s Duty and resigns one’s job.
As far as the appropriateness of the terms "abdication" vs "resignation", I would say that the terms "resignation" and "abdication" are both perfectly acceptable when referring to the pope's voluntary renunciation of his office informally. In fact, the Latin word abdico, from which we get the English word "abdicate" means "to resign" or "to reject" in Latin. However, the word "renuntiet" is the word currently used by the 1983 Code of Canon Law to describe a papal "resignation." This word also means "to renounce" or to "to reject." Thus the actual code of Canon Law does NOT say that the pope "resigns" his office, it says that he "renounces his office." However, those translating the Code of Canon law into English chose to translate this phrase using the modern term "resignation."
However, it is important to note that the the decree of the Council of Constance, a decree that ACTUALLY accepted the "resignation" of Pope Gregory XII--a real pope-- used the words "cessionem", "renunciationem", and "resignationem". Thus these three words actually have a legal and theological precedent in the Church's magisterium for describing the voluntary termination of the papal office. The ecumenical council of Florence accepted Pope Gregory XII's "resignation" with these words:
The most holy general synod of Constance, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, representing the universal catholic church, accepts, approves and commends, in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit, the cession renunciation and resignation made on behalf of the lord who was called Gregory XII...
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