It's official, the first Pope to resign in over six centuries has left the Vatican headed for a city south of Rome. As was announced, Feb. 28, 2013 would be the pontiff's last official day as leader of the Catholic Church. At 8 p.m. Italian time, Pope Benedict boarded a helicopter as well wishers looked on.
The timing of his departure has been questioned by many in the United States due to the ongoing investigations of sexual abuse by priest during and before his reign. The Pope has ultimate authority in the Catholic Religion and some may reason that his authority goes far beyond the Vatican City.
Tarcicio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State will have the responsibility of smashing the papal's official ring with a hammer. It's not quite clear if this tradition holds true if the Pope dies while in office, but this is a situation they have not faced in centuries. The ring is reported to show an image of St. Peter fishing.
The Cardinals from around the world are gathering to find a successor to Benedict. Speculation is that a replacement from North America is being sought. It has been suggested by many close to the Catholic Religion that it may even be time to consider a "Pope of Color."
When all the pomp and circumstance of today's events are over, there's still that lingering concern over child molestation that is prevalent among several priest who are still serving in their clergy. When allegations arise it is normal practice to just move the suspected priest to another parish and try to sweep it under the rug.
No one is suggesting that Pope Benedict XVI is involved in any sexual improprieties, only that he had a chance to clear it up. We'll wait and see who replaces him at the helm, and hopefully it wont be business as usual. As one of the most dominant religions in the world, this type of scandal is not one that you can just ride off into the sunset with and hope it goes away.
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