Pope Benedict's Retirement as Precedent?


#1

If I remember right, please correct me if I am wrong, the current practice is for priests to retire at 70, bishops to retire at 75, and furthermore cardinals over the age of 80 cannot participate in conclaves to elect new popes. As such, do you think that Pope Benedict's retirement could establish a new practice where a pope is required to retire upon reaching his 85th year? Or will Benedict's retirement, much like Celestine's retirement back in the thirteenth century, establish no such precedent and just be a very rare occurance in the 2000 years of Church history?


#2

[quote="CMSUVulcan, post:1, topic:316323"]
As such, do you think that Pope Benedict's retirement could establish a new practice where a pope is **required **to retire upon reaching his 85th year?

[/quote]

No.

[quote="CMSUVulcan, post:1, topic:316323"]
Or will Benedict's retirement, much like Celestine's retirement back in the thirteenth century, establish no such precedent and just be a very rare occurance in the 2000 years of Church history?

[/quote]

We have no way to know that.


#3

A rare occurence.


#4

[quote="CMSUVulcan, post:1, topic:316323"]
If I remember right, please correct me if I am wrong, the current practice is for priests to retire at 70, bishops to retire at 75, and furthermore cardinals over the age of 80 cannot participate in conclaves to elect new popes. As such, do you think that Pope Benedict's retirement could establish a new practice where a pope is required to retire upon reaching his 85th year? Or will Benedict's retirement, much like Celestine's retirement back in the thirteenth century, establish no such precedent and just be a very rare occurance in the 2000 years of Church history?

[/quote]

Certainly there can be nothing that binds a Pope to retire; since he "judges all men and is judged by no man", he has the authority from Christ to rewrite Church law without consulting anyone else. However, I do not think it will be another 600 years until another papal resignation - I expect to see it again in my lifetime. However, If 85 were to become the customary papal retirement age, it would still be a rare occurrence - only six Popes in the history of the Church (of those whose ages are known to us) have reached their 85th birthdays. The last one was Leo XIII, who died at age 93 in 1903.


#5

Yes . I believe that a precedent has been set , and that there will be a new canon law stating the age of a pope’s retirement .


#6

It's impossible to know at this point whether this sets a precedent or not. With the increase in the demands of the papacy and the increase of modern medicine, it could conceivably happen more frequently going forward. But again, we have no way to know at this point. Only hindsight will be able to comment on that.

Since the pope is the supreme authority of the Church on earth, I don't see how it would be possible to institute a mandated age of retirement for the pope. I cannot see a pope attempting to impose such a stipulation on his successors, and -- even if he did -- his successor could easily opt to change it.

I think it's going to depend on whatever man is in the office and how he's doing.


#7

Perhaps a precedent of example, but not an establishment of law. The best example I can think of is the two-term presidency in the U.S. before FDR. There was no law stipulating the president step down after two terms. Most did so after the example of Washington.

It would, similarly, make sense for a pontiff to step down when he realizes he will likely live some time without the ability to carry out his responsibility. However, there will not be a certain age for this. It would be at a time he chooses.


#8

[quote="petronus, post:5, topic:316323"]
Yes . I believe that a precedent has been set , and that there will be a new canon law stating the age of a pope's retirement .

[/quote]

A new cannon Law would be a good. The media is taking the Pope's retirement out of text.


#9

[quote="petronus, post:5, topic:316323"]
Yes . I believe that a precedent has been set , and that there will be a new canon law stating the age of a pope's retirement .

[/quote]

Whether it becomes a precedent remains to be seen, but it won't become law. The law does not bind the law giver.


#10

[quote="petronus, post:5, topic:316323"]
Yes . I believe that a precedent has been set , and that there will be a new canon law stating the age of a pope's retirement .

[/quote]

Would not do anything as canon law does not apply to the Pope.

Future Pope's might, I stress might, consider Benedict's strength, courage and resolve in resigning the Chair of Peter for medical reasons but there can be no law stipulating such.


#11

Actually, canon law DOES apply to the Pope. He is bound by the law in the sense that he may not violate the law. However, since he has the singular power to change the law on his own authority, he is not bound to the law in that sense.


#12

I think its less precedent-setting than it is stigma-breaking. I don't think that a theoretical, healthy, vigorous future Pontiff will feel compelled to step aside at 85; but I do think that future Pontiffs, as they age, will come to consider their physical capabilities and decide whether it is appropriate to step aside.

That said, this is a more turbulent time in the church's history, and a future Pontiff may not face as many challenges....permitting a more infirm individual to remain.


#13

[quote="CMSUVulcan, post:1, topic:316323"]
If I remember right, please correct me if I am wrong, the current practice is for priests to retire at 70, bishops to retire at 75, and furthermore cardinals over the age of 80 cannot participate in conclaves to elect new popes. As such, do you think that Pope Benedict's retirement could establish a new practice where a pope is required to retire upon reaching his 85th year? Or will Benedict's retirement, much like Celestine's retirement back in the thirteenth century, establish no such precedent and just be a very rare occurance in the 2000 years of Church history?

[/quote]

Not required, but even today few men over the age of 85 are up to the demands of high office. The teaching office of the pope is the most important, and as Leo XIII proved, even an ancient man can function intellectually at a high level. But everyone finally gets too old. I also think it would be a good idea to separate the man from the office. On the other hand, they have to keep it from seeming just a political position, which is what the papacy became for a time in the 9th and 10th centuries.


#14

[quote="SonCatcher, post:7, topic:316323"]
Perhaps a precedent of example, but not an establishment of law. The best example I can think of is the two-term presidency in the U.S. before FDR. There was no law stipulating the president step down after two terms. Most did so after the example of Washington.

It would, similarly, make sense for a pontiff to step down when he realizes he will likely live some time without the ability to carry out his responsibility. However, there will not be a certain age for this. It would be at a time he chooses.

[/quote]

We were lucky that Washington has no sons of his own.


#15

I think it might be more common. People are living longer, but in a restricted way. People just rarely drop dead anymore. Elderly people go to the doctor and they are told they need to reduce their stress levels, get lots of rest, etc. That's not exactly something a world leader wants to hear. The heart attack or stroke that would have killed them years ago can now be treated and they can go on with their daily lives, assuming their daily life isn't being the spiritual leader for a billion-plus and making decisions that will effect people for generations to come.

So you can imagine how hard it would be to handle to duties of being pope when you can't travel to world youth day, not having the energy to meet with a diplomat, and trying to focus when an adviser is telling you for the 3rd time about a situation in some far away country.

I think a lot of popes in the future will be faced with the question, "Can I really keep doing this job?"


#16

I think that’s a good way of looking at it. I like how Rocco Palmo puts it, too. He says we’re entering “an age where modern medicine allows the body to outlast the vigor the modern papacy requires.”


#17

I enjoy reading this blogger - he has a broad perspective on the OP question.

unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/


#18

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