Perhaps as a sign from above, St. Peter's dome was struck by lightening after the announcement by Benedict that he was resigning from his position of Supreme Pontiff. It was a stunning sight, caught on film at the right moment. A sign from God?
Some say that such a reaction from above may actually echo the sentiments of millions of people around the globe to Benedict's papacy.
"Both as Cardinal Ratzinger and as Pope, Benedict devoted himself to a process of undermining, silencing, and marginalizing the theologians, priests, and religious who committed themselves to the liberation of the poor." - Jennifer Hughes, Associate Professor, Humanities UC Riverside
The Sinking Ship of The Vatican
Benedict's papacy has been rife with scandal in two primary areas: cover-ups of pedophile priests and shady dealings with the Vatican finances. Of the latter, points in two OpEdNews articles come to mind: The Vatican's Fake Occupy Implodes and, more recently, The Vatican's Golden Toilet Flush bring out the profligacy of the Vatican and how it cared more for making money than giving to the poor. Liberation Theology was, in fact, given an act of defenestration, of execution and Ratzinger showed the world that Catholicism was going to reverse the progress initiated by John XXIII.
It was also going to cover up, cover up, cover up.
And it is because of these scandals, that Benedict is leaving the Vatican in less-than-better shape. To many, the Vatican is considered a ship, slowly sinking in a sea of traditionalism that no longer suits the needs of the modern world. It has reversed course from Vatican II while fighting the consequences of pedophile priests and decades of cover-ups. It has also been enthroned on financial cover-ups which, over the years, have shown the Vatican to be incredibly rich, caring for the poor less and supremacy more.
Too feeble to carry on?
"both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
To many, it is inconceivable that Benedict has admitted his mind is not as sharp as it once was to carry on the role of the papacy. And while he has looked more haggard of late, his deterioration seems a bit sudden to those who have watched him closely. But to those who watched the waning life of John Paul II, there's something of the quitter in Ratzinger's decision: it's more "I'm too old for this stuff. Let someone else battle the scandals and deal with the cover-ups."
There is a Twitter profile - #QuitterPope - which deals with the situation in an irreverent, but spot-on manner. It is also indicative of the ill will generated by Ratzinger's papacy.
What Now For Ratzinger?
"Will Pope Benedict now become Dowager Pope, showing up at Vatican dinners in enormous velvet hats to deliver withering one-liners?"
"The pope quit his job to spend more time with your children."
- Betty Bowers
Germany (AP) -- Pope Benedict
XVI is planning to stay out of the public eye following his retirement at the
end of the month and will probably not write any further works during
hislifetime, his brother said Tuesday after talking with the pontiff.
While many people like OPEDNews' own Rob Kall and Matthew Fox says "Good Riddance," the situation of a retired pope may not be dismissed as easily as one might think: what will the Vatican be spending on a papal retirement? How extravagant will it be? Benedict will definitely not be cared for in some obscure monastery in the Alps. Will the pope who wears Prada afford the luxury of a gold and diamond-studded toilet handle in the papal apartments and be attended to by monsignors and bishops? Possibly. Will he receive all the trappings of a retired monarch, like chauffeur-driven limos and those ever-present Prada shoes? Probably. After all, Ratzinger is a traditionalist and even former popes have to keep up appearances.
More importantly, will he continue to pull strings?
The Next One: The Devil Wears Prada
While parodying pundits like Betty Bowers are having a field day with Ratzinger's resignation, the seriousness of the candidacy looms: will the next pope carry on the regressive policies? After all, many of cardinals standing were hand-picked by the the pontiff to keep up the pace of such regression.
Will reluctance of transparency still be the order of the day?
More importantly, will the new pope continue to wear Prada?