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.

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Comment by Melissa Houle on February 12, 2013 at 12:44am

I guess Pope Benny found that the Shoes of the Fisherman weren't such a good fit.  They have a limited pool to fish in, but I HOPE the College of Cardinals finds someone a bit more....modern in his outlook on the world! However, not being Catholic, I can't say that Papal people have a lot of impact on my daily life.

Comment by Basil Thurlow on February 12, 2013 at 1:06am

I think the pope is caught up in a number of scandals including the Catholic Church's cult of pedophilia. With their gruesome history including aiding the Nazis and their retro attitude regarding contraception and birth control; I think every educated Catholic should seriously consider resigning from the Catholic Religion. It is a disgrace and Catholics should admit it.

Comment by Rodney Roe on February 14, 2013 at 1:16am

I jokingly remarked that the smoke rising from the chimney of the Vatican in a few weeks may be coming from a smoking gun.  A Catholic friend replied, "Dan Brown will let us know."

The pope, apparently, was a reformer when young, but has certainly been a staunch advocate for the status quo as a Cardinal and Pope.  He has been involved in an unusual number of scandals - at least unusual for modern times - and I wonder if his involvement in one of those may be about to become public knowledge.  Large organizations will do anything to protect the organization including throwing the CEO under the bus.

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