Pope’s resignation unlikely to bring changes in Catholic dogma, experts say


Posted Wed, Mar 13, 2013

DENVER – In light of Pope Benedict XVI leaving the Vatican for the last time on Feb. 28, marking the first resignation of a pope in almost 600 years, many people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, are expecting some of the more controversial church teachings to be given leeway when a new Pope is elected by the College of Cardinals. Many feel these changes must be made in order to accommodate an increasingly liberal modern world. This is unlikely to happen, experts say.

“The Pope isn’t a CEO who brings his own plans to impose upon an institution,” says Roxanne King, editor of the Denver Catholic Register. “The pope’s mission — his call — is to guard and protect the integrity and truth of the Christian faith.”

Controversy has been a staple throughout Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy, with the extensive media coverage of the Vatican sex scandals, the “Vatileaks” controversy, and financial woes within the church. These things coupled with the ongoing controversy surrounding fundamental Catholic Church teachings such as abortion, birth control, celibate priests and female priests implies that changes appear to be necessary within the church. Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, however, believes media coverage has played a role in how the public views the Catholic Church.

“The church has always dealt with challenges and controversy and with the sinfulness of her members,” Aquila said in a Thanksgiving mass celebrating the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28. “Only the media pretends that sins define the Church. They fail to see the great good the Church does.”

Ben Akers, director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and Catechetical School, believes some of the strife against the church has been caused by a common misconception and misunderstanding of church teachings.

“There is often a sharp divide between what the church actually teaches and what people think the church teaches,” Akers says. “The Catholic Church has some great explanations founded in divine revelation and right reason for why it teaches certain things — even the unpopular things.”

Pope Benedict XVI has made history by being the first pope to resign from his pontificate since Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415 during the Papal Schism. Benedict XVI cited his age as the reason for his resignation, saying that he had “come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

While Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy is likely to be recalled with memories of both his premature resignation from the pontificate and the controversy, which plagued the church during his papacy, Akers is hopeful that his legacy will be related to some of the key areas he focused on during his pontificate, he says, including his contributions to theology, his commitment to the Mass celebration, his desire and attempts to unite Christians of all sects and his holiness.

“The full impact of Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy for the Church and world will take some time to process,” Akers says. “My encouragement is for people to take advantage of these historic times we’re living in to learn more about what the Catholic Church actually teaches.”

About Aaron Lambert

I am a convergent journalism major in my senior year at MSU Denver. I was born and raised a native here in Colorado, and I currently live in Westminster, CO with my wife and pup. I am an avid lover of music, specifically heavy/extreme metal, and I regularly scribble words about such topics over at the underground metal blog Heavy Blog Is Heavy.

View all posts by Aaron Lambert

2 Responses to “Pope’s resignation unlikely to bring changes in Catholic dogma, experts say”

  1. Davy Says:

    Great story. I like how you picked a global story and put a Denver spin on it.


  2. S.L. Alderton Says:

    Good story. I like the quotes and the local angle you put on this story.


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