November 24th, 2010
08:56 AM ET

Pope raises possibility of resignation in book

A pope not only should, but must resign if he is not able to carry out his duties, Pope Benedict XVI says in a wide-ranging new book out Tuesday.

If the head of the Roman Catholic Church is "physically, psychologically or spiritually" unable to carry out his duties, he has not just a right but an obligation to step down, the pope says.

No pope has resigned in nearly 600 years.

Benedict is 83 years old and apparently in good health.

His predecessor, John Paul II, served until his death despite becoming so physically frail in his later years that it was difficult to hear him speak.

Benedict's comments on resignation come in a book which has been making headlines for its revelation that the pope may consider the use of condoms morally justified in some circumstances.

He says there may be a case for prostitutes to use them to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. popeadope

    the pope will never resign nor will he have to...someone will simply place a chemical substance in the sacramental wine.

    November 28, 2010 at 2:35 am |
  2. Jason

    No he should not resign. He would be a disgrace to the Catholic faith if he did. I love the Pope because he is the vicar of Christ on earth, but stepping down is too much.

    November 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      He is already a disgrace! He should resign because he is a charlatan in general (for being the head of a major cult preying upon the week minded – a " con man" in other words) and for failing to protect innocent children. As usual, the believers have it backwards – denying the obvious is standard operating procedure.

      November 28, 2010 at 3:03 am |
  3. Scaz

    the pope needs to find a hitman who will charge him five grand. then he won't have to resign – he can just kill everyone who gets in his way.
    oh, wait, he probably has gay priests who will do that for free.

    November 25, 2010 at 6:24 am |
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    November 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • to be added

      ba-stard.....as in ba-stardization.

      November 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  5. Eternal


    Did you read about cow worship in hinduism in some christian or islamic propoganda website? Cow is considered holy animal not worshiped literally.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • Reality

      And the reason for the "worship/reverence" notation.

      November 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  6. brad

    People should be grateful for the Church. It's about the only thing left where everyone can be an expert without knowing anything. All we'd have to do is read the NYT, read some pop-science (hand-picked of course), listen to Dawkins or Hitchens – those Jimmy Swaggarts of tele-atheism, then declare that "we can think for ourselves."

    November 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      I am not an expert in anything. Even the simple-minded cannot see God. They have to be indoctrinated before they will join you in your delusions. Why don't you try praying to God or Jesus and have them get in touch with us, okay?

      We're all still waiting, you know. Even many believers are waiting for the proof that never shows up. All that you have are words written by men, the words of men who are not God, and assertions without any proof or even anything approaching proof.

      Give thanks for your lack of discernment, brad. You love your delusions. I love mine when I play with them. I can put mine away when I'm done with them. Can you? I doubt it.

      November 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • Q

      I fail to see the corollary between Jimmy Swaggert and Dawkins or Hitchens. The later both employ evidence to inform their arguments, the former relied solely on magic and mythology to pacify his audience's fear of dying.

      November 24, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Sum Dude,

      Tell that to the little first grader who named three things he was thankful for and then proceeded to draw a picture of each thing as directed by his teacher….he named his teacher, his family, and God. When he was told, ‘ No one knows what God looks like’, he replied, ‘They will as soon as I finish my picture.’

      November 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • MadPanda

      Sounds like you should make that kid the new pope. He seems to know more than the rest.

      November 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      Your commitment to supernatural tribal myths continues to amaze...

      The only reasons a child would respond as you indicate is because they have been indoctrinted into a cult without their consent. The vast majority of the growth in the number of believers is due to birth – almost no one converts to religion. You are a member of a cult no different than those who believed in Zeus, other than they eventually "saw the light" and moved on. Yes, some moved on to christianity, but only because they did not, individually or as a group deal with their underlying mental health issues or need for a security blanket.

      November 25, 2010 at 5:40 am |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    If the american president doesn't have to step down even if senile, why should the Pope?
    Saint Reagan of Gipper – Patron Saint of afternoon naps and plausible deniability.

    November 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Doc Vestibule

      LOL... Now THAT was just too dam-n funny...! 🙂


      November 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  8. CatholicMom

    Hopefully everyone who reads ‘Light of the World’: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times’ will see exactly what the Pope means which reading a few words in a commentary cannot do.

    November 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I think I will wait for the movie. LOL

      November 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Don't hold yer breath, CatholicMom, you'll need it to ask God to prove his existence to the rest of us. (and good luck with that!) 😛

      November 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The pope is a dope, probably a criminal and should just shut up and fack off. Nobody with the capacity to think for themselves is interested in anything he, or any of the charlatans of his I'll, has to say.

      November 25, 2010 at 5:27 am |
  9. brad

    Suppose the Pope personally handed out condoms to anyone on demand. How would this diminish human capacity to destroy itself?

    November 24, 2010 at 11:58 am |
    • Bob

      It would slow the progress of AIDS transmission in Africa. Which in turn would slow the rate of which humans thorugh their own actions can destroy themselves and others.

      Maybe you should think before asking asinine questions.

      November 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  10. Reality

    "If the head of the Roman Catholic Church is "physically, psychologically or spiritually" unable to carry out his duties, he has not just a right but an obligation to step down, the pope says."

    Benedict fails in two of the three categories so hopefully he will follow his stated obligation and resign. Or maybe he will follow the advice of ex-Catholic, now atheist Julia Sweeney in her DVD monologue "Letting Go Of God" when she notes that the pope should say "We have made some mistakes". (I have listed the corrections below)

    The Apostles' Creed 2010:

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary.

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under under Pontius Pilate,
    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many local semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension story was promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    Buy Julie's DVD or watch it on Showtime. Check your cable listings.

    From http://www.amazon.com

    "Letting Go of God ~ Julia Sweeney (DVD – 2008)

    Five Star Rating

    November 24, 2010 at 9:55 am |
    • David Johnson

      I have seen "Letting Go Of God" 3 times! I love it.

      It should be required watching in all the schools! At least by Junior year.

      November 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Eric

      People still wish to believe that Christians have copied the stories from other religions. They still fail to realize that Christianity is borne from out of Judaism and thus predates other religions' stories of creation, redemption, and resurrection. They show their lack of knowledge when they point out that "Christ's body still remains a-mouldering buried in a grave somewhere outside of Jerusalem." He was not not buried, but was put in a tomb carved out of rock.

      I can understand why people leave Catholicism. I also comprehend why they then rant against Christianity; they have been deceived by the Pope and Cardinals and Bishops thus they trust nothing about the Bible. My advice is to go and study the Bible and find out personally what the real account says. Forget what men have told you, go and find out for yourself and then make a choice.

      November 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      What you have suggested people do is exactly what some have done….left Catholicism…turned against Christianity….because as they read the Bible they see the Catholic Church within its pages... just as the early Church leaders did as they deciphered what books should make up the Bible. Seeing this, some have a hard time swallowing their pride and returning home but many do leave their pride behind and return.
      But some have forgotten where the Bible came from…they forget what the Bible says about the Church being the pillar and foundation of Truth. They forget that Jesus Christ said He would not leave without sending the Paraclete to bring them into remembrance of all that He had told them and any further Truth as they are able to accept it…They forget to remember this Promise…and so they continue going it alone…with the Bible or the parts of the Bible they cling to…forgetting the other parts…and doing their own interpreting…They have become their own pope.

      November 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
    • brad

      @David Johnson: here's some more required study for schools. They study the Independence declaration which states "...all men are created equal..." . They also study evolution which postulates "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest". Schools need to swallow and digest this contradiction before reading your book.

      November 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Not an uncommon christian apologists' view. Been said and done before.

      Interesting though, that ... In 'Judaism' they are not so hot on the whole 'Christian' thing... yes...?


      November 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • brad

      Letting go of God will accomplish nothing. You need God to let go of you. When that happens, this blog will become vacant.

      November 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • Reality

      An early Holiday Gift:

      But only for the those interested in a update on the major religions

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      "Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:

      Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      4. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.
      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."
      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      November 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Know What

      "Forget what men have told you, go and find out for yourself and then make a choice."

      It is ALL what men have told you.

      If "God" speaks to you personally, then I want to hear exactly what he says... and how it differs from talking to yourself.

      November 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • Peace2All


      You Said:–"Letting go of God will accomplish nothing. You need God to let go of you. When that happens, this blog will become vacant."



      November 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bob

      @Brad wrote: "They also study evolution which postulates "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest". Schools need to swallow and digest this contradiction before reading your book."

      I would suggest a remedial science course so that you can actually learn what evolution is. You can't argue against something of which you have no knowledge. It'd be like me saying "Jesus can't be real beacuse it says he had a laser gun, but it's 2010 and we don't have laser guns yet."

      You clearly don't have a grasp on the material. Back to Grade 8 science class with you!

      November 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Judaism may predate some/Most of the other religions. That wouldn't stop the New Testament authors from "borrowing" from other religions/gods. Jesus has a lot in common with several sun gods. In fact, some Old Testament stories may have been lifted from other religions around them. The flood, Samson, etc. Remember, the Jews were conquered several times. Is it any wonder they would read the deeds of other gods and decide it would be neat if their desert war god also did it?

      The gods (all gods) are constructed by man. Their deeds come from the imagination of men. None of it is any more real than Spiderman.


      November 25, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  11. Frogist

    Ahh the Pope sounding bit like Miss America there... What exactly does it mean that he "spiritually" can't carry out his duties anyway?
    Wow the Vatican mentions transe-xuals?! And says condoms aren't so bad?!
    Again it's interesting that the Pope cares about "the end of the world" by environmental disaster, but can't link that to overpopulation and the efficacy of condoms and other birth control to reduce the rates of overpopulation... slight disconnect there.
    Glad they cleared up that bit about whether it was male or female prost!tues though...

    November 24, 2010 at 9:51 am |
    • NL

      Actually, lots of times whatever a pope says is so carefully legalistic that they sound more like Caitlin Upton during the Miss Teen USA 2007 pageant, and because of this a lot of folks are reading a thaw in the Vatican's condom policy where none actually exists.

      November 24, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • brad

      The Pope's involvement with the world is vast in scope. The Church itself possesses two millenia of human experience. His qualifications far exceed that of the average blogger on CNN. As for the spiritual part: people who've only investigated the physical/scientific aspect of humanity aren't quite ready to discuss "spirituality:.

      November 24, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • Frogist

      @NL: I suspect if he handed out the condoms himself his followers would find a way to spin it into the Pope wants us all to make balloon animals.

      November 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The article says:
      "If the head of the Roman Catholic Church is "physically, psychologically or spiritually" unable to carry out his duties, he has not just a right but an obligation to step down, the pope says."

      Why, I am perplexed! Could not a god decide when it is time for the Pope to step down? Would not a god know best on this?

      The last Pope seemed to be dead, but everyone still liked to see him slumping in this throne.

      Am I reading too much into this, if am thinking the Catholic Church is admitting there is no god to make these determinations?

      Atheists are the light of the world.


      Is the Pope not the Vicar of God? Can not god determine

      November 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey CK...!

      Nicely said...


      November 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey Brad...

      You Said:--–" His(Pope) qualifications far exceed that of the average blogger on CNN."

      Qualifications...? Qualifications for what specifically...? Criteria please...

      You Said:--" As for the spiritual part: people who've only investigated the physical/scientific aspect of humanity aren't quite ready to discuss "spirituality."

      I guess, I would ask you again for more specifics as to 'your' particular definition of spirituality, before I would make further com-ment or discourse with you on your posting.


      November 24, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • brad

      @Peace@All. Explaining my comment about God letting go of us: I can understand agnostics being on this blog. But we also have the continuous company the same atheists. It seems to me that they have "let go of God". But apparently God has quite a grip on them otherwise they would be doing something else.

      Peace yourself

      November 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey Brad...

      You Said:–"@Peace2All. Explaining my comment about God letting go of us: I can understand agnostics being on this blog. But we also have the continuous company(of) the same atheists."

      Well, I 'think' I understand a bit more about where you are co-ming from with that statement, and... given that this is the 'Belief' Blog... which as you know, means belief or faith without evidence or proof... why shouldn't 'atheists' be here to express their opinions and debate others views...? This is not the 'Christian' Blog or the 'Taoist' Blog, etc...

      'Beliefs,' both yours and mine and the rest of the people posting and replying on these blogs are open to debate, scrutiny...and hopefully, we all can learn a bit from each other. yes...?

      While we may have the "same company of atheists"... we also have the "same company of 'believers'... yes...?

      All should be welco-me in my opinion anyway.

      You Said:–" It seems to me that they have "let go of God". But apparently God has quite a grip on them otherwise they would be doing something else."

      Why would you a-ssume that...? To hold that particular worldview, requires so-me pretty dogmatic 'beliefs.' Which, again, beliefs are not proven *facts*.

      Peace yourself

      Thanks Brad... Peace back at ya'...!

      November 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • Bob

      @Brad But apparently God has quite a grip on them otherwise they would be doing something else.

      Actually I post because I'm tired of having my rights as an individual oppressed by your belief. I could care less what sort of nonsense you believe in and on which day you recite your magical incantations.

      What I do care about is when your fairy tales impact my personal rights. Your beliefs do not necessitate a change in my lifestyle. For example, when we couldn't buy alcohol on Sunday. Or how gays can't marry.

      As long as your faith continues to push laws based on it's claims, I'll be here to oppose you.

      It's the moral thing to do.

      November 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      I'm with Bob on that.

      November 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Very well said...


      November 25, 2010 at 3:41 am |
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