The Swiss Guard has abandoned its post at the entrance to the door of the Pope’s residence, officially ending Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s time as the leader of the Catholic Church.
The Pontiff Emeritus will spend the next few weeks at a summer home before moving to a small monastery within the vatican grounds.
The transition to a new pope now begins.
Will the next pope hold true to the same ideals that have been in place for centuries, or will he change the church’s stance on controversial issues– like abortion and contraception– to win people back to the faith? That is what is at the heart of the debate now.
As Pope Benedict the 16th closed his career as the leader of the Catholic Church, the walk toward becoming a member of the clergy is just beginning for Tim DeCrane and Adam Antone.
“It is that joy that I want to bring to others,” said Antone. “That sense of the love of God.”
Both are students at Marion University, both are in the Bishop Simon Brute Seminary. Both feel called to priesthood, and both back the teachings of the recently retired father.
“I admire him for his dignity and for the way he was very prayerful about this decision and how even thought he is retired, I know we are going to get a wealth of knowledge from him,” said DeCrane.
A number of churches around the Circle City are putting up signs, thanking the Pope for his work. Meanwhile, activist groups worry about the church’s future. They say the church’s stance on recent legal issues are cause for concern. They argue the entire Catholic Church is at a crossroads.
“I think the Catholic Church needs to change or die, because they are on the wrong side of history,” said Center For Inquiry Executive Director Reba Boyd-Wooden.
Boyd-Wooden said she feels the church’s stance on issues like:same-sex marriage and contraception have led to people leaving the church.
“I would hope they would elect a pope that will want to liberalize and modernize the Catholic Church,” said Boyd-Wooden. “I think the future of the Catholic Church depends on it, as well as a lot of people that they are hurting.”
Boyd-Wooden hopes the next Pope will be more liberal, shaping the church’s current view to match much of the modern world. The pair of seminary students believes ancient traditions still hold true.
“It is not a popularity contest,” said Antone. “The church is about teaching the truth.”
“I do not want to see it go one way or the other,” said DeCrane. “I want to see it as Christ wanted it to be, and in the way that Christ founded it to be. I think that is the way the church should be run. It is His church.”
Pope Benedict the 16th cited a “lack of strength of mind and body” as his reasons for stepping down. Some experts are saying the next Pope could be elected on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.