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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Benedict resigns, Francis named pope in record time

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis of Buenos Aires was elected by the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13 in the shortest papal conclave in history.
The 85-year-old Pope Benedict retired on Feb 28 after serving in his role as pope since 2005, succeeding Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict said in his statement of resignation that he no longer feels suited to adequately execute the Petrine ministry, according to CNN.

While Pope Benedict remains in good health, he feels his age is hindering him from using his strengths in his position.

“To be honest, 85 is not very old for a Pope and for him to cite ‘health and personal reasons’ is a little sketchy to me. However, his reasons are his own, and if he feels like it is for the benefit of the church … then it is the right move to make,” said Catholic and senior Ben Nelson in an email interview.

This papal resignation is the first in nearly 600 years. There have been mixed feelings about Benedict’s decision throughout the Catholic Church.

Canon law, the laws and regulations adopted by many religions ­— Catholics included — states that resignation must be made freely and in clear conscience. Because Pope Benedict is in his right mind, his resignation is acceptable. Medically, there is nothing wrong with Benedict; he claims to only feel weak because of his age.

After resignation, the conclave of, or process of selection, Pope Francis began. The 2013 papal conclave was the shortest in history, beginning March 12 and ending the following day.

During a conclave, the cardinals of the church gather and must have two-thirds of the majority to elect a fellow cardinal.

The first ballot and the three that followed produced black smoke from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, showing that the ballot was inconclusive. On the fifth ballot, white smoke announced that the new pope had been chosen.

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He was appointed archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and proclaimed cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

Bergoglio was different from other cardinals because he used public transportation and refused to live in the church mansion. “He’s a moderate man with some reformist tendencies … open to reform and to a more positive vision of the church,” said Marco Politi, a Vatican analyst, to The Christian Science Monitor.

Pope Francis is also a Jesuit and, according to Yahoo, Jesuits who have a reputation for earnestly following their vows of poverty.

Pope Francis’s mark may be left in his desire to reform poverty and inequality because of his modest lifestyle.

“I think the Pope will make a series of surface level changes to make the church more open and accepting, something that I feel the Church has gotten away from in recent years … lately (under Pope Benedict XVI’s reign) I feel like the Church has become increasingly judgmental,” said Nelson.

“(His simple lifestyle) may be very threatening to the papal court, especially those who like to dress up,” said Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican expert at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University to The Christian Science Monitor. Also unique to this papacy is the relationship between Benedict and Francis.

There are no records of a current pope and former pope meeting in person because popes are only chosen after the death of his predecessor.

Pope Francis’s Jesuit background is seen in his relationship with Benedict, claiming that the two are equals.

Benedict gave Pope Francis the right-hand seat in the car going to church and chose the lesser left-hand seat for himself. Also, instead of taking the front kneeler in church when they went to pray, Francis politely refused saying “no, we are brothers,” and insisted they pray side-by-side.

Although white is traditionally the color of only the pope, both wore white and Francis wore the traditional gold sash of the papacy, and the two men embraced one another.

Concerns have been expressed about the future of the relationship between the pope and his former. Vatican experts worry that there will be a rival for power and public loyalty. Currently, the Vatican is racing to prevent internal conflict by setting procedures for the life of the Church after a pope resigns.

Benedict hopes to live in seclusion in the Vatican, but Francis refuses to let this happen. Instead, he has called Benedict frequently to wish him a happy name day and mentioned Benedict after his election, where he asked the crowd to pray for the former pope.

“I will be very interested to see, however, if he really makes good on his promise to not have any sort of authoritative role within the Catholic Church,” said Nelson.

After spontaneous resignation and speedy election, the Vatican remains a thriving religious force. Now the Church must navigate the transition of power and the unprecedented challenge of having two living popes.

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