As the first Pope in more than 600 years to resign, Pope Benedict XVI announced early Monday morning that he will be stepping down after 8 years of attacking feminist ideals and denying access to birth control–not to mention the 25 years as Cardinal Ratzinger that he led the Vatican office responsible for investigating claims of sexual abuse but didn’t take action until Pope John Paul II explicitly ordered him to do so. But no hard feelings Your Holiness, most of us feel like quitting our jobs on Mondays, too.
The 85-year old pontiff’s resignation came as a shock to Catholic officials and nearly 1.2 billion Catholics around the world. Benedict revealed, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
With approximately 17 percent of the world’s population following Catholicism to some degree, the Pope’s conservative ideologies have held considerable weight over a variety of social issues, ranging from abortion and birth control to women’s equality both inside and outside of the church.
Recognizing that the Vatican is a very conservative institution, one still can’t help but hope that this resignation may offer an opening for a more progressive leader to lead the Church’s response to critical social and human issues.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michele.oliveira82 via Creative Commons 2.0