Pope resignation affects SMC students

On Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will step down as spiritual leader to the Catholic faith, ending his almost eight-year term in the papacy. The unexpected resignation has left the world wondering the current fate of the church.

It has been over 600 years since a pope has voluntarily stepped down from his position.

In an official statement released by the Vatican, Pope Benedict stated he is no longer able to live up to his papal responsibilities "due to advanced age," and will officially resign on Wednesday.

The 85-year-old pope served as a confidant and adviser to his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II who passed away at 84 in 2005, according to Rev. David Guffey of the St. Monica Catholic Community.

"He watched Pope John Paul II's health slowly deteriorate from age," said Guffey. "I admire his decision, and I think it shows a lot of courage as a leader to be able to step down as he did. He's handled himself in a way that I'm confident will work."

Benedict's upcoming resignation, coupled with the recent developments of alleged internal cover-ups, has left many Catholics with a sense of confusion and uncertainty about the future of their church.

The recent media spotlight on the church has frustrated Santa Monica College student Dante Bates to the point where she no longer feels comfortable attending.

"Church was supposed to be the one place free from politics or scandal," said Bates. "If those who are supposed to be representing God can't keep it together, then who can?"

The pope's resignation came just shy of two weeks after former Archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony was relieved of his duties for alleged attempts to cover-up child sexual abuse cases within the church.

These controversies have urged many parishes to come together as a community, as SMC student James Berardo pointed out.

"My parish has encouraged us to not to dwell on anything we may hear about the church on the news in the following weeks," said Berardo. "I have faith the church will only be stronger after something like this."

The papal conclave to determine Benedict's successor is set to commence between March 15 and 20.

"With every new pope, there's a fresh start, a new beginning," said Guffey. "I think that sense of vitality will usher in a lot of good for the church."

James CosterComment