On February 11, 2013 the world was stunned to learn that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning from the papacy—one of the world’s all-time best jobs for life. I am stunned that that same world is so ready to accept the papal reason for leaving: he alleges that he no longer had the physical or psychological strength to carry on.
Call me a skeptic, but I am bound to question how the leader of a global religion, especially one as wealthy and politically complex and powerful as the Roman Catholic Church, simply gives two weeks’ notice and walks away. If Benedict were a regional manager of a burger chain he’d probably have to give at least a month’s notice, right?
Is it possible that the recent barring of Roger Cardinal Mahoney from performing priestly functions in the archdiocese of Los Angeles (by his successor, the current Archbishop) is a match lighting the tinderbox of the Church’s endless sexual abuse scandal and cover ups? And does the flame in Los Angeles light a fuse that eventually blows up former Cardinal Ratzinger now Pope Benedict XVI?
Ratzinger was, by his own demand, the place where the Vatican buck stopped on all decisions regarding sexual abuse charges made against the Catholic clergy worldwide. He was, in effect, by his own choice, the clearinghouse that processed the sex scandal allegations, charges, lawsuits, and penalties (when there were any.) In effect, Ratzinger decided who got nailed and who walked away scot free.
Is there more in the Los Angeles arsenal of charges against Mahoney for repeatedly covering up sex abuse by Catholic clergy that implicates Ratzinger in his previous role as the scandal’s damage control specialist and executioner?
If not, the only other possibility is that the pope has some form of serious dementia that is forcing his hand to resign. If he were/is seriously ill physically, he would stay on as so many popes have, and rule from his sick bed. After all, the papal health plan is the best there is. A dementia, on the other hand, would render him unable to avoid eventual embarrassment for himself and for the Church.
One thing is certain; there are more red shoes ready to fall in Rome regarding Benedict’s real reason for making such a quick exit just before the most important holy day of the Catholic calendar. And when they fall, they will probably make a noise loud enough to be heard around this world -- and maybe even beyond it into the next.