It seems like yesterday, but it was April 2005 when we were all glued to our TV screens waiting for the white smoke to funnel out of Sistine Chapel. Before noon, a relative unknown cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, was elected as Pope Benedict XVI.
Whilst his predecessor Pope John Paul II was renowned for his charisma, Pope Benedict was nicknamed God’s Rottweiler for his unvarnished temperament and his deeply conservative views. Yet the announcement of his resignation has shocked both critics and loyalists. It was swiftly followed by speculation of who will be next in line to don the Papal Tiara.
Rumour has it that since the Catholic church has seen its most significant growth in the southern hemisphere, the next Pope could likely be from a developing country. When speculation gets really rich, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana and Francis Arinze from Nigeria are cited amongst the prominent names that could come out of the vatican’s ballot at the end of March.
Cardinal Turkson currently presides over the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Cardinal Arinze is a Prefect Emeritus and former advisor to Pope John Paul II. The election of any one these highly qualified men of God will indicate a forward looking church that is growing in the same direction as its congregation.
Pope Benedict’s resignation will take effect on Feb 28th, 2013. As an informal tribute to arguably the most influential leader in the world, here are some of my favourite things about Pope Benedict:
He installed solar cells on one of the Vatican’s buildings to minimize his carbon footprint.
He was adamant about the need to redistribute wealth and urged the world to move away from consumerism.
Although the papacy is supposed to be a life time position, Pope Benedict recognized his shortcomings and is giving way for someone else to lead the Catholic church.
He wears Prada shoes
photo credit: Reuters