02/27/13 — Papal farewell: Catholic Church has challenges ahead and its leader knows that

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Papal farewell: Catholic Church has challenges ahead and its leader knows that

There are always critics when someone makes a big decision -- especially when it happens once every 400 years.

So, it is not surprising that there are already conspiracy theories about why Pope Benedict XVI decided he would resign his position as pope.

There is no question that there has been a cloud around the Catholic Church in recent decades and that there is a need for leadership as the faithful and their leaders navigate a new, but still traditional, course.

Maybe the scandals that have rocked the church were too much and Pope Benedict decided he had had enough.

It's possible.

But could it also be that a man who loves and cares for the faith he has professed and the church he has nurtured simply wanted someone with the energy and the drive to do it right.

There is wisdom in age and the pope could certainly have offered much of that gleaned from his 85 years of life.

But there are certain realities that also go along with those advanced years -- and Pope Benedict very likely knew those physical limitations would not allow him to be there to lead and to set a new and strong course for his church.

So he did the honorable thing -- he stepped out of the way.

That is not cowardice and it is not disrespect for the honor that was bestowed upon him.

It is a sign that the church's future is more important than one man in his eyes and a realization that he could better serve elsewhere.

That is courageous.

There will be another pope and more debate about the future of the Catholic Church and there will be more mountains to climb.

But today is a day to say thank you to a man who gave his last years to his faith and his church and set an example of true, selfless leadership.

And that is something to admire.

Published in Editorials on February 27, 2013 1:19 PM