Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 2:10 pm
By Eyder Peralta
A Statue of St Peter outside St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican.
Credit Vicenzo Pinto / AFP/Getty Images
As The National Catholic Reporter points out, one of the reasons Pope Benedict XVI's resignation is so surprising is because "most modern popes have felt resignation is unacceptable. As Paul VI said, paternity cannot be resigned."
Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation Monday, was an ardent defender of Catholic tradition. For a quarter-century before he become the pontiff in 2005, he served as the chief enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy.
Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28. For more on what his resignation means for the future of the Vatican leadership, Steve Inskeep talks with Mathew Schmalz, a professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
When Pope Benedict XVI steps down at the end of the month, he will be remembered for his efforts to strengthen the Catholic Church's core beliefs and for his powerful and eloquent encyclicals, but also for a mixed record in handling the sexual abuse scandal.