It was a shocking day for the Roman Catholic Church, after the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. This is the first papal resignation in almost 600 years.
In an address read out in Latin before a group of cardinals in the Apostolic Palace, the 85-year-old pontiff said he had decided that, due to his “advanced age” and deteriorating strengths, he would be stepping down as head of the Catholic Church on 28 February.
While there have been glowing tributes coming forward since the announcement, there are also contrary opinions. Victims of the sex and child abuse scandals that erupted under Benedict’s papacy either accused him of being directly complicit in a conspiracy to cover up the thousands of cases that have come to light over the past three years, or of failing to stand up to reactionary elements in the church who were resolved to keep the scandals under wraps.
Norbert Denef, from north Germany, who was abused as a boy by his local priest for six years and was later offered €25,000 (then £17,000) by his diocesan bishop to keep quiet, said: “We won’t miss this pope.”
A successor may be chosen by Easter.