Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world today by announcing that he will resign from the papacy at the end of this month, becoming the first pope in about 600 years to retire.
Many people have reacted with shock, since most popes of the Roman Catholic Church (which currently has more than 1 billion members worldwide) have served for their entire lifetimes. I, too, was shocked when I first heard the news this morning. But after I reflected on Pope Benedict's decision, I have to say that I admire it.
The pope said in his statement that he had carefully examined his conscience before God about this decision, and his decision to step down was based on his concerns about no longer being able to fulfill his role well, due to his deteriorating health. It took a lot of courage to do what's best, rather than what's expected.
As someone who loves learning about miracles, I respect the thorough work the Catholic church does investigating reports of miracles worldwide. The people who work on miracle cases are extremely careful in their work, and the person who leads the church they represent must certainly be able to lead carefully and courageously -- seeking what's true, regardless of whether or not it's popular.
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