The Norman Transcript

Headlines

February 24, 2013

Reshaped papacy raises questions for church future

NORMAN — Pope Benedict XVI has reshaped the papacy simply by giving it up. But how?

As the first pontiff in six centuries to step down, Benedict has carved a new path for his successors who decide they cannot rule for life. But scholars say the repercussions could reach beyond just changing how pontiffs leave to ultimately shape perceptions about the authority and significance of the pontificate.

“A lot of what it will mean has to do with what subsequent popes do. Does this become a precedent for future popes to follow or not?” said Phillip Thompson, executive director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University.

Benedict’s pontificate will end at 8 p.m. Thursday. He plans no role in the conclave that will choose the next pontiff, and will retreat to a life of prayer in a monastery behind Vatican walls. His decision shocked the church. But papal resignations are expected to become more likely over time because of extended lifespans and the growing demands of the pontificate, Thompson said.

Travel is now a major responsibility due largely to the globe-trotting example of Pope John Paul II. Shepherding the 1.1 billion faithful requires constant contact through the Internet. These days, Catholics far from the Holy See can watch the weekly general audience, ask the pope questions on Twitter and pray in real time along with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. As a result, staying on until death can mean a very public decline. John Paul, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other health troubles, could no longer walk or talk when he died in 2005 at age 84.

The pope is regarded as a teacher, an international diplomat and an administrator, but he is also the vicar of Christ — a leader with a divine mission. Benedict’s retirement raised fears that the pontificate could be viewed as less holy. Some questions have even focused on the much misunderstood Catholic teaching on papal infallibility: With two popes, one emeritus and one in power, who will have the final say? In fact, infallibility applies to the office, not the person, and only when a pope invokes apostolic authority to define doctrine or morals for the entire church.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Trees Trees take root in Andrews Park Johnny Keeler of Little River Trees plants a tree Tuesday in Andrews Park to replace those lost when the area was hit by a tornado on April 13, 2012. The tornado took out several trees in city parks. Andrews Park was hit the hardest.

    April 16, 2014

  • General fund continues to decline as expenses exceed anticipated revenues

    Norman’s expenses will again outstrip projected revenue in the current budget before the city council. The budget for the fiscal year that starts in July and ends June 30, 2015, projects $210,982,020 in total revenues and $213,436,778 in ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman High Speech and Debate Team wins state championship

    Briar White’s heart pounded in his chest as he clasped the hands of several classmates and Booker T. Washington High School was announced as the second-place finisher. White said he was elated to hear second place announced because he ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman students accepted to arts institute

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Forty-nine Norman high school students have been accepted to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, an arts academy hosted June 14-29 in southwestern Oklahoma. The Norman students were among 270 artists ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Supremacist faces murder charges

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The white supremacist charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City made his first court appearance Tuesday....

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma Senate approves limits on abortion drug

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma in a bill written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision....

    April 16, 2014

  • OU History of Science Department receives Sloan Foundation Grant

    The University of Oklahoma History of Science Department has received a $350,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in support of a project to build an innovative tool for collaborative research centered on the 100-year-old Isis ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman High, North named top schools in nation

    Norman High and Norman North have once again been identified as two of the most rigorous high schools in the state and nation. The Washington Post’s 2014 Most Challenging High Schools list, the first of annual national high school ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma Water Survey data web portal to be demonstrated next week

    A new tool is available from the Oklahoma Water Survey, at the University of Oklahoma, for organizations in the state that collect and use water data. Oklahoma Water Survey Director Robert Puls will demonstrate Phase I of a new water data ...

    April 16, 2014

Video
Facebook