Pope's Resignation Marks New Episode in Fight against Church's Gerontocracy - Bulgarian Historian

Society | February 11, 2013, Monday // 17:45
Bulgaria: Pope's Resignation Marks New Episode in Fight against Church's Gerontocracy - Bulgarian Historian Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director of Bulgaria's National History Museum, Photo by BGNES

Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director of Bulgaria's National History Museum, has said that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI marks a brand new episode in the struggle to deal with gerontocracy, a flaw of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches.

Dimitrov explained Monday that the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, being medieval structures in essence, had decided to make bishops and patriarchs lifelong titles.

"However, unfortunately, human life is so arranged that, physiologically speaking, in all cases, after the 70th or 75th year, the physical and mental powers of people decline and they cannot fulfill the heavy duties of the patriarch or the metropolitan," Dimitrov told the Focus news agency, adding that the Catholic and Orthodox clergy were at loss how to limit this difficult moment of a person's life and the consequences for the church.

Dimitrov reminded that a decree issued by Pope John Paul II stipulated that Cardinals had to be no more than eighty years of age on the day before the death or resignation of the Pope to be eligible to vote.

He noted, however, that Pope John Paul II had found it impossible to participate in the life of the church in any way during the final days of his life.

The head of Bulgaria's National History Museum said that the same had happened with Bulgaria's Patriarch Maxim, who passed away in November 2012 at the age of 98, and had been prevented form taking an active part in church activities due to his physical condition, which had caused the church to reach a standstill and lag behind the lives of the believers.

Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927, announced Monday that he would resign on February 28, for health reasons, after serving for almost eight years.

A conclave is to be held before Easter to elect the new pope.

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Tags: Bozhidar Dimitrov, National History Museum, Pope Benedict XVI, resignation, Pope John Paul II
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