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We can not avoid talking about the news of the day. Yesterday the television-programs had their mouthful of the resignation of 85-year-old Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger alias Pope Benedict XVI.

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Squa...

Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Rome (2007).(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Roman Catholic church has always claimed to be the rightful bearer of the Church of Christ and having the right to have the follower of the apostle Peter, whom they consider to have been the first Pope. though if they would read the Holy Scriptures more carefully they would notice that there was not such an hierarchy in the first faith-group which tried to follow the teachings of Christ.

when Jesus was alive he also did not place one pupil in front of the other and taught them that they should be humble, respecting each other and trying to use all the gifts they received from the Father above to do their duties as good as possible. In the united body to honour God and to be followers of Christ, there is no such order that one person would be above or under the other. All have to be united as brothers and sisters in Christ. All having Christ Jesus as the cornerstone and the example to follow.

“for any other foundation can no one lay than the [one] being laid, who is jesus christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11 MKJV)

The last few months we could notice that more than one person in that Catholic Church tried to cover up the crimes of their priests. Also Benedict, when he still was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this cardinal not only covered paedophile crimes, when he had become Pope, he and the Vatican office did first as if they did not know about such things. Only when letters proofed that they should have been aware of those crimes and did not the right thing, they agreed to the letters, but said they did what they could do, but forgot to warn the juridical powers.

In archdiocese documents released under a court order earlier this month, Mahony is revealed to have taken actions deliberately contrived to avoid legal prosecution of priests who had sexually abused — and even raped — children. The documents were so damaging that Mahony, now retired and once thought to be a contender for the papacy, was publicly rebuked by current Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and stripped of any public duties, an unprecedented censure of a cardinal archbishop by his successor.

Amid the cache of church records, released as part of a settlement between the archdiocese and 500 sex-abuse victims, are several letters to Ratzinger from Mahoney, in which the California prelate reports to the Vatican his reasons for various actions (such as defrocking) taken against the offending priests. The records amount to some 30,000 pages, so their full contents have yet to be pored through by investigators and journalists.

What is clear, though, is that Mahony repeatedly failed to act on concerns about the sexual abuse of children by priests that brought to him by pastors and church officials throughout the diocese, and that when he did, his actions were designed to avoid criminal prosecutions of the predator priests. And it is also clear that in his Vatican office, Ratzinger was the recipient of letters from Mahony informing the Holy See of what actions he had taken.

Back in 1045, the irredeemably outrageous Benedict IX – the only man to be pope more than once, and the only one ever to sell the papacy – also stepped down, essentially for the cash. Accused by St Peter Damian of “feasting on immorality”, by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of committing “many vile adulteries and murders” and by Pope Victor III of being a pope “so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it,” Benedict ostensibly resigned to get married – but not before he had sold the office to his godfather, who became Gregory VI (and had to resign himself the following year because, even by the standards of the 11th century, buying the papacy wasn’t really on).

In 1415 we also find an other resignation.  Bishop of Castello from 1380 and titular Patriarch of Constantinople in 1390 and pope on 30 Nov., 1406, forsaken by most of his cardinals, Gregory XII resigned. At that time there was also a rival pope in Avignon, Benedict XIII. The schism erupted in 1378 one year after Gregory XI was named the Pope in Rome, ending the sixty-seven year reign of the ‘Avignon Papacy’ during which time seven pontiffs ruled from that city in southern France. (Gregory XI was actually named Pope in 1370, as the last of the seven ‘Avignon popes,’ but he did not move to Rome until seven year later).

Following the death of Gregory XI in March 1378, under pressure from Romans to elect a Roman leader of the church, the cardinals named Pope Urban VI who was from Naples. Urban VI quickly fell out of favor, leading to the election of a ‘rival pope,’ Pope Clement VII, in September of that year, who re-established the papacy in Avignon – meaning the Catholic Church now had a pope and an ‘anti-pope,’ thereby dividing the European continent.

After Clement VII and Urban VI died, the schism continued through their respective successors, Pope Boniface IX (who became the ‘Roman’ pope in 1389) and Benedict XIII (the Avignon antipope who was crowned in 1394).

H.H. Pope Innocent VII

H.H. Pope Innocent VII (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon the death of Boniface in 1404, some hopes for a resolution to the schism emerged when the cardinals in Rome offered not to name a new pope immediately if Benedict would resign and give up the Avignon faction’s claims on the papacy. When Benedict and his representatives refused, the Roman Cardinals named Pope Innocent VII as the new pope in Rome. Upon Innocent VII’s death in 1406, Gregory XII was named his successor (while Benedict XIII still ruled in Avignon).

The dispute deteriorated into further complications in 1409 when a church council in Pisa elected yet another anti-pope, Alexander V, who lasted about a year, until he was succeeded by John XXIII.

The issue was not resolved until 1414 when the Council of Constance pressured anti-pope John XXIII to resign and excommunicated the Avignon Pope, Benedict XIII.

File:Gregory XII.jpg

Gregorius XII

Due to his great piety and his earnest desire for the end of the schism after the death of Innocent VII the cardinals at Rome unanimously had elected Angelo Corporrario pope on 30 Nov., 1406. The split that divided the Catholic church for nearly 40 years and had, by the stage Gregory did the decent thing, reached the point where there were three different claimants to the papal throne: Roman Pope Gregory XII, Avignon Antipope Benedict XIII, and Pisan Antipope John XXIII.

However, Gregory XII’s resignation was not, strictly speaking, voluntary since it involved various behind-the-scenes machinations and intrigues, complicated by the Avignon and Pisa claimants.

Thus, perhaps the last truly voluntary resignation by a Pope occurred decades earlier, in 1294, when Pope Celestine V quit after serving only five months.

Succeeding Pope Nicholas IV in July 1294, perhaps Celestine V’s most notable achievement was issuing a decree which granted the right of a pope to abdicate (a step he himself took in December of that year).

Explaining his wish to resign, Celestine V said he was motivated by “the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, [and] his longing for the tranquility of his former life”.

Pope Benedict XVI who stunned the world by becoming the first Pope after World War II to step down earlier. Since no pope has retired in almost 600 years, there is no formal retirement plan for popes. However, as a bishop (and possibly a cardinal), Benedict will continue to have access to the Vatican’s lavish healthcare plan and probably also to the private doctors who currently manage his medical treatment. The pope does not officially receive a salary, though his needs are seen to by the Holy See. Canon law requires each diocese to provide support and housing for its priests after they retire, though the details of priests’ and bishops’ pension plans vary from country to country.

Dr. Donald Prudlo of the Vatican says about the significance of this decision of Ratzinger to resign:

“The important thing is that the Catholic Church is such an historically rooted church that we do have things to look to in order to deal with an event of this type. As unusual as it is, we can look back at other examples and know that the laws which govern these things have been long established in Catholic canon law (canon 332 of the Code of Canon Law). And so, for instance, the rules regarding the conclave that is to come up have been rehearsed for nearly a millennium. And the Pope, Blessed John Paul II in his Constitution Universi Dominici gregis, once again re-affirmed these things that have been thought about and discussed for an exceptionally long time. So while we have, what is to us, a very, very shocking, and something that makes us certainly have concern for Pope Benedict himself, we know that the church has the resources and has the things from her history to be able to meet these challenging situations.”

This occasion calls for looking into the reality of figures allowed or chosen by God to rule his church. The Roman Catholics do have their Pope, the Jehovah Witnesses do have their Watch Tower Society which receives the same infallibility as the Catholic Pope.

Jesus himself did not know when he would return, and for many things he said the people around him it was a matter of his Father. How on earth would other people receive more knowledge or power than Jesus? He himself also did not appoint anybody or wanted to have one person in a higher position than the other. The opposite, Jesus wanted all his followers to be humble brethren and sisters willing to be the slave of others, working as servants for God.

The apostles and prophets mazy be used for the foundation of a working community in Christ but that community at to be build up by the teachings of Christ Jesus making every person fit to be part of the building stones, fitting each in brick by brick. Stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that should hold all the parts together. As the apostles could see it taking shape day after day — a holy temple built by God, we too, today can still find people gathered together, willing to be under Christ, as one body of faithful believers.

The church or Christian community does not need a sorry bunch — pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers — posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. The church of God should be made up by people who really love God and accept His son for what he really was and is. It should be people who call others also to be welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. People who know that it is God who knows the heart and God who chooses His people, His workmen. And those who may feel to be called should be humble workers for God and not for themselves or worldly organisations. God should be the priority, and the telling of the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.

It is  God who sets in the place of honour. Every believer has to present him or herself as building stone for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which they’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:

“4  As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by

God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being

built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual

sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture

it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”” (1 Peter

2:4-6 NIV)

“20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:20-21 NIV)

“But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles”.” (2 Corinthians 11:5 NIV)

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:13 NIV)

The apostle Peter knew that Christ was the ultimate rock.

“8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’” (Acts 4:8-11 NIV)

Also the apostle Paul was aware that he was not the most important apostle, nor peter whom he even rebuked at a certain point. (Galatians 2:11)

“23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives for ever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:23-25 NIV)

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.” (Romans 6:9 NIV)

“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.” (Ephesians 5:23 NIV)

“22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23 NIV)

When we look at 1 Corinthians 3:11 where we are called to remember that there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ, how can it than be that there should be special throned people who can be Pope and call themselves the main Leader of the Church?

“For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11 NIV)

When the Catholic Church or the Jehovah Witnesses claim that only the faithful slave, either the Pope for the Roman Catholic church, or the Watchtower Society, can be the one spokesperson and the one bringing infallible teaching to the flock, than you could wonder why Jesus is called the one mediator between god and man. Jesus, the son of God is namely sitting at the right hand of Jehovah God, and has taken the role of mediator, so that he can speak for the earthly beings, whom he also shall have to judge at the end-times.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

God does not want an other mediator and Christ Jesus should be for us the most respectable and most perfect spokesman. We do not need a Pope when we trust that Christ Jesus also would lead his church here on earth and will follow it up from above in heaven. As Jesus trusted his Father we should trust God, giving to those who he thinks necessary to give guidance in the ecclesia and God providing people with the necessary gifts to proclaim the Good News and the Kingdom of God.

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Read also:

Pope Benedict XVI resigns
Yesterday the Vatican has confirmed that Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger’s papacy began in 2005 will come to an end at the end of the month, because Pope Benedict XVI is to resign. This is reportedly only the second time a head of the Catholic church has stepped down. The last time was nearly 600 years ago.

The Pope Resigns
The Roman Catholics claim that Jesus Christ appointed Peter, one of his disciples, the first Pope, and since then there has been a handing on, or a succession, to this office, right down to Pope Benedict himself.
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They claim that here Jesus pronounces that Peter is to be the leader of the church. But a careful reading of what he is saying reveals that Jesus is actually saying that the rock on which the church is built is his confession and understanding of who Jesus is.

Virtually unprecedented: papal resignation throughout history

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Comments on: "Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger steps down as Pope Benedict XVI" (4)

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