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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 914

Papal Resignation: A bolt from the blue, - indeed!

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

After the announcement of resignation by Pope Benedict, as an inexplicable coincidence, the dome of the basilica of St Peter was struck by a bolt of lightning which a cameraman captured in vivid detail during a thunderstorm in Rome.London city

There will be plenty of Catholics who want to interpret the significance of the cosmic signal on a day of dramatic developments.

Anyhow several millions of Catholics across the world are still taking in the shocking news announced by Pope Benedict on Monday. The move, however, won global admiration too, as the pontiff became the first to do so in nearly six hundred years – to call it a day when he thought it was impossible him to carry on.

After the announcement, by inexplicable coincidence, the dome of the basilica of St Peter was struck by a bolt of lightning which a cameraman captured in vivid detail during a thunderstorm in Rome. There will be plenty of Catholics who want to interpret the significance of the cosmic signal on a day of dramatic developments.

Pope Benedict, who resigned on health grounds, leaves the Vatican with quite a few formidable challenges:

the Vatican is going to have a conclave before spring when cardinals will be able to elect the new Pontiff; the cardinals have to decide whether to stick to the conservative stance taken by Pope Benedict’s on the most pressing issues that have the potential to divide the church such as the thorny issue of gay marriage, ordination of women as priests, use of condoms, euthanasia and abortion.

The Pope met the cardinals while announcing the decision, which had shocked many of them. It appears to be a decision made by the Pontiff personally. The Vatican, meanwhile, made it clear that no specific health issue was behind the hasty announcement.

Pope Benedict who started leading the Vatican in 2005, was relatively old when elected. Those who want a younger pope hold the view that the combination of extensive travelling, contemporary theological challenges and the tendency of nations going secular may otherwise take its toll on the Pontiff. Pope Benedict faced many hurdles during his Papacy which he could not cope with.

At present, the Vatican is busy with the planning the next stage when the Pontiff is officially relinquish his duties on 28 February in line with the announcement. Judging by the recent developments surrounding the Catholic Church, it is going to me a monumental task for the institution.

- Asian Tribune -

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