NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)—The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a “holy shakeup” in the Catholic church, according to an association advocating for the ordination of female priests, the National Catholic Reporter reported Monday.
“The Pope’s resignation is a positive sign that the Spirit is at work renewing the church,” the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests said in a press statement.
“We need a top down shakeup and new structures of accountability in the Roman Catholic Church,” said the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, which ordains women outside the formal structures of the church. “Married priests, women priests, are only a few of the necessary steps the Vatican needs to take in a more just and compassionate church that honors the gifts of God in the people of God.”
The pope announced on Monday that he is resigning for health reasons and will step down on Feb. 28. A papal conclave will follow to elect his successor, who will be in place by the end of March, in time for Easter, The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 11.
Pope Benedict is the first Pope to resign since the 1500s. He was elected in 2005 to succeed the enormously popular John Paul.
During his years as leader of the Vatican, Pope Benedict strengthened the Church’s opposition to female priests, alienating some women. He also worked to reinforce Church teachings against abortion and birth control.
Benedict eventually accepted to review the church’s stance on contraception, Business Week reported Jan. 11. He commissioned a 200-page report to explore the effect that condoms could have in stopping the spread of infectious diseases, including AIDS. The effort eventually yielded to a more practical attitude to sex. In 2010, Benedict said that condom use can be justified in “single cases,” for example by sex workers, as a necessary “humanization of sexuality.”
Pope Benedict turned the Church back to its orthodox roots, Forbes wrote Jan. 11. He has been criticized for making insulting remarks to Muslims, financial scandals during his tenure and doing little to address the priest sex abuse scandals and for calling homosexuality an intrinsic moral evil.
He later apologized for the church’s shortcomings in not better protecting children from wayward priests and he met and prayed with victims of abuse.
BIO: Hajer Naili is a New-York based reporter for Women’s eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa. Follow her on Twitter @H_NAILI