With the ongoing scandal that is the Catholic Church getting bigger and more lurid everyday, there is talk of the Pope resigning. Each day there are new revelations of abuses by church officials to cover up and protect pedophiles, including the news that the current Pope, while a cardinal, aided a pedophile priest into therapy, and then reassigned him to another parish where he began molesting young boys again.
Ireland. Germany. Australia, The US. All sites of new cases of child molestation brought against a church which still seeks to pride itself on protecting children and hating the LGBT community. Many are calling this scandal the Catholic church's Watergate, and wonder if the Pope will take the same route Nixon did in the 1970s and leave his position. So, with all this mess, people wonder if the Pope should resign; and can he, if he wanted to do so?
Well, as things stand now, and under almost any imaginable scenario, Pope Benedict--aka Benedict Arnold to the children of the church--is not about to resign. The scandal the church currently faces would be nothing compared to the scandal of a pope quitting.
But it has been done before. The last time a papal resignation occurred was during the Great Western Schism in the late 1500s and early 1600s when Pope Gregory XII issued his resignation at the Council of Constance through his delegates. The council deposed the two other rival popes, allowing for the election of a single, legitimate pope.
Before that, in 1294, there was an old Italian hermit who had been elected and named Pope Celestine V against his will. Celestine issued just two major decrees: the first provided for the abdication of a pope, and the second provided him the right to abdicate,
So, you see, it's been at least 500 years since a pope called it quits. And today, for a variety of bureaucratic reasons, it is next to impossible for a Pope to resign. The Catholic church's Code of Canon Law states--and if it sounds like gibberish, it is--that: "[i]f it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone."
Not accepted by anyone? Huh?
So, the Pope can resign, because it's been done before, but the church's own codes make it nearly impossible for him to do so.
I mean, it isn't like he's Sarah Palin or anything.