Republican Border Bill Passes, Court Deals Blow to Unions, Ebola Comes to the U.S. and the U.S. Fails Internationally

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Late Friday, House Republicans passed a bill to address the U.S. Mexico border crisis by sending migrant youths back home without hearings meaning that more than half a million immigrants could be deported even though the Obama administration granted temporary work permits, according to Erica Werner, House OKs bill to address border crisis. President Barack Obama condemned the Republican action saying he would act unilaterally as best he could. The new bill, which tea party lawmakers enthusiastically support, provides $694 million and carries a companion measure to shut off a program created by Obama granting work permits to immigrants brought here illegally as kids. The second bill prevents the more than 700,00 people who’ve already gotten work permits under the program from renewing them making them subject to deportation. The sending bill passed Friday 223-189 with four Republicans voting no and one Democrat voting yes. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. explained, “It’s dealing with the issue that the American people care about more than any other, and that is stopping the invasion of illegal foreign nationals into our country. And we got to yes.” While Obama said no adding, “They’re not even trying to solve the problem. I’m going to have to act alone, because we do not have enough resources.” The move in the House came as the first day of lawmakers’ five week summer recess happened and Senators had already left Washington after killing their own legislation on the crisis. Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said, “It would be irresponsible and unstatesmanlike to head home for the month without passing a bill to address this serious, present crisis on the border.” According to Werner: “In the end Republicans only lost four of the most conservative members on the vote: Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Paul Broun of Georgia, Stephen Fincher of Tennessee and Walter Jones of North Carolina. The only Democrat to support the bill was moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas.”The GOP plans met with protest from immigration advocates and Democrats with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., saying, “If you tell people that you think they’re criminals, that you think they’re simply bringing diseases, that they’re bringing drugs, then you treat them as invaders, they kind of think you don’t like them. They’re going to believe you don’t like them, and they’re not going to vote for you.” The bill adds $35 million more for the National Guard as well as increase spending for overwhelmed border agencies, add more immigration judges and detention spaces, and alter a 2008 anti-trafficking law to permit Central American kids to be sent back home without deportation hearings.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court upheld the 2011 law that ended collective bargaining for most public workers, sparked massive protests and led to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election and rise to national prominence, Scott Walker reports, Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Collective Bargaining Law. Thursday’s 5-2 ruling is a victory for Walker who is considering a 2016 run for president and re-election this year and marks the end of a three year legal fight over union laws prohibiting public worker unions from collectively bargaining for anything beyond base wage increases based on inflation. A federal appeal court twice upheld the law as constitutional and the high court ruled in a lawsuit, filed by Madison teachers union and a union representing Milwaukee public workers, that the law violated workers’ constitutional rights to free assembly and equal protection. Walker introduced the proposal shortly after taking office in 2011 causing teachers, public workers and their supporters to flood the Capitol for weeks in order to block the passage. In addition, Democratic state senators fled the state for two weeks in a failed attempt to block the bill’s passage. The law bars automatic withdrawal from members’ checks, require annual elections to see if members want their unions to represent them and requires public employees to contribute to their health insurance and pension costs, which help local governments and schools save money to deal with cuts to balance the state’s shortfall, according to Walker. Walker faced a recall in 2012, but became the first governor ever in U.S. history to defeat a recall. The union law has been challenged on several fronts since it was introduced, but withstood them all. The state Supreme Court decided to take the case on Thursday after a Dane County judge sided with the unions and ruled in September 2012 that major portion were unconstitutional.

Internationally, on Thursday and Saturday, hospital officials said a U.S. humanitarian aid worker and two American doctors who contracted Ebola in West Africa will be transferred to the United States and treated in a special high security ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Reuters reports, US aid worker infected with Ebola to be moved to Atlanta hospital: official. The aid worker will be moved in the next several days to a special isolation unit set up in collaboration with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which is one of only four in the United States. An American doctor infected with Ebola arrived in Atlanta on Saturday landing in a specially equipped plane at a military base then took to the isolation unit at Emory, Ray Henry reports, US doctor with Ebola arrives in Atlanta for treatment. it marks the first time a patient with Ebola has entered the country for treatment with a second American aid workers expected to arrive at Emory in days. U.S. based Samaritan’s Purse paid for the transport and confirmed to the Associated Press the patient was Dr. Kent Brantly. The ambulance took him to the hospital among a wide open Interstate with no traffic flanked by SUVs and police cars then the patient was taken into the building at Emory by people in white protective clothing. The hospital is down the hill from the CDC. Dr. Jay Varney, an infectious disease specialist at Emory charged with Brantley’s care, said the hospital’s isolation unit is well equipped to handle patients with the disease. He added, “Ebola is only transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. Unlike the flu, like influenza, which we deal with every winter, Ebola cannot be spread through the air.” Ebola has no cure. Dr. Philip Brachman, an Emory University public health specialist who for many years headed the CDC’s disease detectives program, said Friday: “That’s all we can do for such a patient. We can make them feel comfortable” and let the body try to beat back the virus.”

While treatment for the infected begins, the U.S. has issued a travel warning for Americans going to the three West African countries hit by the Ebola outbreak and the World Health Organization deals with the spread in West Africa. On Thursday, U.S. health officials warned Americans not to travel to the area, Mike Stobbe reports, US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries. The advisory applies to nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the deadly disease has killed more than 700 people this year. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who announced the warning, said “The bottom line is Ebola is worsening in West Africa” adding that Ebola is “a tragic, dreadful and merciless virus.” The purpose of the warning is to limit U.S. travelers use of overburdened hospitals and clinics for injuries or other illnesses. Stobbe reports that the outbreak has a 60 percent fatality rate so far with no vaccines or specific treatment available. The CDC has 20 staffers at U.S. airports and border crossing to evaluate any traveler showing signs of dangerous infectious diseases, and isolate them when necessary. The agency is prepared to increase that staffing if needed, he said. Back in West Africa, World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan said Friday that the outbreak is out of control but can be stopped, Tom Miles reports, Ebola Out Of Control But Can Be Stopped: WHO Chief. Chan told the presidents of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast at a meeting in Guinea’s capital Conakry: “This outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries. This meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response.” The death toll so far is at 729 including 60 healthcare workers and 1,323 cases overall. Chan added that “Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of viruses and other microbes. We must not give this virus opportunities to deliver more surprises. Moreover, public attitudes can create a security threat to response teams when fear and misunderstanding turn to anger, hostility, or violence.” The reason for the quick spread is due to cultural practices such as traditional burials and deep seated beliefs.

In Washington, while the CDC tackles a potential international debacle, President Barack Obama acknowledged on Friday that the United States conducted torture in the aftermath of 9/11 terror attacks, the AOL article reports, Obama: ‘We Tortured Some Folks’ After 9/11 And We Have To Take Responsibility For It. Obama said, “I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. We crossed the line and that needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so we don’t do it in the future.” In addition, Obama told reporters at the White House that a Senate investigation into interrogation techniques used by thew CIA would be declassified in August. According to the new CIA Inspector General’s Office report, agency employees in 2009 hacked Senate computers used to compile the investigation leading many lawmakers on the Hill to call for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignations over the matter.

Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton confessed he could of killed Osama bin Laden, but decided against it due to the number of civilians who also would be killed just hours before the 9/11 attacks, Mollie Reilly reports, Bill Clinton, Hours Before 9/11 Attack, Said He ‘Could Have Killed’ Bin Laden. On Wednesday, Sky News host Paul Murray released a previously unreleased audio recording of Clinton talking to Australian businessmen on September 10, 2001: “Osama bin Laden — he’s a very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him, and I nearly got him once,” Clinton says in the tape, answering a question about terrorism. “I nearly got him. And I could have gotten, I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children. And then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.” The 9/11 Commission Report in 2004 identifies several operations targeting bin Laden in the 90s which prompted critics to accuse Clinton of not doing enough. During a 2006 interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Clinton defended his administration’s efforts saying: “I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president, we’d have more than 20,000 troops [in Afghanistan] trying to kill him.”

A New Era in the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis Civil Unions

With the approach of holy week and the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis fast approaching, let’s watch the highlight and low-light reels for this week as big decision are coming for the Catholic church.

Pope Francis and GLAAD: Oh you knew it was coming. The surprising fact many may not be aware of is the fact the pope at one point supported civil unions for gay couples. The focus though for the LGBT communities had been his public stance on gay marriage, mainly that it’s a “destructive attack on God’s plan”, and his opposition to gay adoption that it discriminates against children. However according to Huff Post as recently as 2010 then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio suggested the church support civil unions as a compromise of sorts as at the time they were legal in parts before the gay marriage bill was passed in his home of Argentina. Although the bishops rejected his suggestion, Argentina passed the law making it the first South American country to do so. While some are optimistic about the new pope, some who knew him before are less. As Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transexuals, told the Times, “The reality, beyond what he may have said in private meetings, was that he said some terrible things in public…He took a role, in public, that was determinedly combative.” GLAAD President Herndon Gradick shared the same sentiment in a statement to Huff Post, explaining, “For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely.” Oh by the way GLAAD the Pope does not only answer to God he has to answer to his congregation and the Curia so anyone in his position has an uphill battle ahead…give him some time cut the man some slack he has been pope for 2 minutes.

Pope Francis and Mislead Flock: As we all know or have seen, the pope traditionally holds Mass of the Lord’s Supper in St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Latern reports Catholic News Service. This year, Pope Francis decided to do things his way and break with tradition by celebrating Holy Thursday of next week washing and kissing the feet of juvenile prisoners in Rome’s Casal del Marmo. The service typically includes washing and kissing the feet of 12 people commemorating Jesus’ humility towards his twelve apostles. The service is not atypical for the pope as in his former life as Argentine’s Cardinal Bergoglio he often held Holy Thursday ceremony in jails, hospitals or other locations associated with the poor and infirm according to Huff Post. According to Agence France-Presse, Pope Francis wants to narrow the gap between the laypeople and the Church.

Pope Francis and The Incredibly Shrinking Priesthood: As the congregation around the world becomes bigger even in the U.S., the problem of no one to lead these congregation has become increasingly apparent. In order to deal with the priest shortage, the Catholic Church has decided to look to former Anglican leaders to fill the void reports Huff Post. The number of men entering the priesthood in the U.S. has dropped about 20,000 since 1975 while the number of the faithful has increased by 17 million according to CBS. Allowing Anglican priests to convert was a way to solve the problem as seen by former Pope Benedict XVI who issued an edict in 2009 to create “a new structure to welcome some disenchanted Anglicans into the Roman Catholic fold,” Time notes. At a Vatican news conference last October, Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect for the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith, according to the New York Times, commented that Anglicans who wish to convert would now be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.” The New York Times of course in an article about married Catholic priests raised some interesting questions as married priest were banned in 1123 by the First Lateran Council however married converts have been allowed since 1980:

First, are they doing as good a job as other priests? If the church has decided that celibacy confers certain gifts on priests, does it follow that married priests are worse at serving their congregations? Second, wouldn’t celibate priests be a little resentful of colleagues who get to serve the church and have sex too? And third, if the married priests are doing a good job and not provoking envy, why keep the celibacy rule for priests in general?

Still the transition has been smooth for many of the priest and even entire congregations to convert to Catholicism. Lewis, a converted Catholic priest who leads St. luke’s now Cathloci pareish in Bladensburg, MD., told PBS: “We left the Episcopal Church not because we were running away from the issues of the Episcopal Church. We left the Episcopal Church because we were running to the Catholic Church … The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to us.”

White smoke: Catholic cardinals choose new pope

AFP 518134685

White Smoke At Sistine Chapel Indicates Pope Election.

On Wednesday afternoon, White smoke appeared from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 7:05 p.m. CET (2:05 p.m. EDT / 11:05 a.m. PDT) after five rounds of voting indicating that the pope elected has accepted the position. According to Catholic tradition, the newly appointed Bishop of Rome is the 266th successor of St. Peter and leader of 1.2 billion Catholics in the worldwide church. In 2005, Benedict XVI was elected on the second day after four rounds of voting. The 115 catholic cardinals who voted in this papal election have elected the new pope with at least 77 votes.  After the smoke emerged from the chimney, the big bell of St. Peter’s Basilica could be heard faintly in the background as the crowd at St. Peter’s Square cheered at the moment the bells began to ring signaling the election of a new pope. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, former president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will appear in a matter of minutes to shout from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a new pope!”) proceeded by the presentation of the new pope in his white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope. Benedict, who did not participate in the election due to health reasons, is the first pope to step down in 600 years, however he was able to in his eight years to solidify the church’s message on the core Catholic values such as opposition to gay marriage and abortion and saw gains in membership in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. On the other hand, his departure is at a time when the church has lost membership in Europe and the United States, is dealing with financial mismanagement of church assets and overcoming the tide of molestation accusations. Fortunately, the mood of the faithful in front of St.Peter’s Basilica was excitement and anticipation following the news. The first vote happened on Tuesday and two morning votes on Wednesday all had similar results with black smoke emerging from the Sistine Chapel chimney that ended with no pope.

Oath Sworn By Cardinals Before Papal Vote (FULL TEXT)

Oath Sworn By Cardinals Before Papal Vote (FULL TEXT).

On Tuesday, March 12 the conclave to elect the next pope after Benedict began this morning, but before the voting could begin the 115 cardinals took an oath of secrecy in the Sistine Chapel. The oath was administer by the conclave’s presiding cardinal, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, which after reading the oath each cardinal elector touched the Holy Gospels and made a “promise, pledge, and swear” to uphold the oath. Here is the full text of the oath as provided by the Associated Press:

 

“We, the Cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, pledge and swear, as individuals and as a group, to observe faithfully and scrupulously the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, published on 22 February 1996.

 

We likewise promise, pledge and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the munus Petrinum of Pastor of the Universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See.

 

In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff.”

Roman Curia vs. American Cardinals: Increasing Divisions, Culture Clash At Vatican

Roman Curia vs. American Cardinals: Increasing Divisions, Culture Clash At Vatican.

Now that the pope has resigned to a life of prayer and meditation at the summer retreat and soon back at the Vatican, the search for his successor has now begun. According to father Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the press office of the Holy See, the first general congregation of the day failed to come up with a date for the conclave but the cardinals, all except one of the 115 electoral cardinals, will meet again this afternoon. After the media confusion yesterday, when parallel press conferences organized by American cardinals were cancelled, it has become clear that inside Paolo VI Hall where the congregations us being held the mood feels dire as the decision to set a date has been delayed. The mood surrounding the events outside the congregation were no better the past few days as the atmosphere has soured with cardinals rushing past ignoring the journalists and photographers. As the International Herald Tribune reports that the situation at the Vatican can be considered a culture clash as the U.S. cardinals will comply with the request of the College of Cardinal’s to refrain from talking to the press. However, an official press realease from Sister Mary Ann Walsh, head of the press office for the conference of U.S. cardinals, revealed that the cardinals are very upset by the request saying,” The U.S cardinals are committed to transparency and have been pleased to share a process-related overview of their work with members of the media and with the public, in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality of the General Congregations.” Therefore, among the U.S. cardinals which totals 11 the consensus starting today is to honor the request for silence from the Curia Romana. According to U.S. delegation, the leaks in the Italian newspapers which upset the Holy See were not dependent on the U.S. cardinals who organized a press conference where little of the private discussion between more than 150 cardinals emerged, but was directly due to undesirable leaks from Italian cardinals talking to newspapers they trust according to the International Herald Tribune. The lies being told are due to enormous differences in journalistic practices and traditions such as American newspapers using anonymous sources as an exception or as an option to use carefully and judicially where as the Italian papers use the practice arguably to the point of abused and is widely accepted. Today, may be the last interview allowed prior to election of a new pope.

Vatican Blasts ‘False’ Pre-Conclave Reporting

Vatican Blasts ‘False’ Pre-Conclave Reporting.

The Vatican on Saturday scolded the media for running defamatory and false reports before the conclave of Pope Benedict XVI’s successor saying these were attempts to influence the election. The Italian newspapers have been running unsourced reports in recent days about the content of a secret dossier prepared for the pope by three cardinals who researched the origins of the Vatileaks scandal in 2012. The reports claim that the revelations in the dossier given to the Pope in December factored into his decision to resign as Pope. The has only said that because he doesn’t have the strength of body and mind to carry on he will resign Feb. 28. The Vatican secretariat of state said on Saturday according to the Associated Press,” If in the past, the so-called powers, i.e., States, exerted pressures on the election of the pope, today there is an attempt to do this through public opinion that is often based on judgments that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living.” He continued in his statement saying, “It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave … that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”

Some Vatican watchers claim because the Vatican bureaucracy is heavily Italian that the cardinals might be persuaded to elect non-Italian, non-Vatican based cardinals as pope to force some reform. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, a papal contender, criticized the division, dissent, careerism and jealousies that afflicts the Vatican bureaucracy. The divisions he speaks of were exposed in the document taken from the pope’s study by his butler and leaked by a journalist according to the Associated Press.  The document  itself tells of the petty wrangling, corruption and allegations of a gay plot in the highest levels of the church. The three cardinals who investigated the theft from the Vatican had the power to interview other cardinals to get to the bottom of the dynamics in the Curia that caused the security breach. On Saturday, Benedict lamented the evil, suffering and corruption that has defaced God’s creation, but thanked the Vatican bureaucrats for helping him bear the burden of his ministry with their work, faith, love and faith these past eight years according to the Associated Press.

 

 

Pope Benedict XVI Resigned Partly Because Of Powerful Vatican Gay Lobby, Italian Paper Claims

Pope Benedict XVI Resigned Partly Because Of Powerful Vatican Gay Lobby, Italian Paper Claims.

Well I guess no organization no matter how rich and powerful can avoid conspiracies theories and scandal especially since one more won’t hurt the Vatican who is no stranger to accusations. Well with the resignation and looming retirement of Pope Benedict, many people are asking the question was the pope influenced by a secretive “gay lobby” inside the Vatican? The group reportedly making this claim is the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. The popular paper on Thursday reported that Pop Benedict XVI made his decision to resign this month because of a report accusing Vatican officials of being under the influence of several intern lobbies including a gay one. The Irish Times reports that Benedict commissioned the report, written by a cardinal trio, after Vatileaks scandal last year concluded that various lobbies within the Vatican had broken the sixth and seventh commandment thou shalt not commit adultery and thou shalt not steal. The significance of the sixth has been historically tied to the doctrine that bans homosexuality. The 300 page report will be passed to the pope’s successor, while the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, has said that those involved will take responsibility for their actions and no follow up will be made to those observations. The Guardian has also reported that another paper Corriere della Sera also mentioned a disturbing report in their Italian daily publication after the pop announced his resignation. The allegation’s are only the latest in a string of theories and conspiracies about why the pope suddenly decided to resign which prompted the wild speculation in the first place. Benedict himself has only further ramped up speculation with his Ash Wednesday homily by referring to internal divisions according to the Washington Post:”I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the church, of the divisions in the body of the church.”

Pope Conclave Change? Vatican Raises Possibility Of Early March Election

Pope Conclave Change? Vatican Raises Possibility Of Early March Election.

Exciting time for everyone whether Catholic or not because most people only see one pope elected in the church I am young and this will be the second one. The election of new pope may happen sooner than March 15 according to the Vatican even though the rule requires 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papacy vacancy. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said the rules are open for interpretation and any change to the law would have meet the approval of the pope before he leaves the office. However if Vatican officials determine its a question of interpreting existing laws then the college of cardinals on the first day of the papal vacancy can discuss moving up the conclave. The 15 to 20 day waiting period is to allow all the cardinals to arrive in Rome, but since the circumstances are unusual the cardinals already know the pope will resign Feb. 28 giving them plenty of time to take part in a conclave.

The date of the conclave’s start is important since the beginning of Holy Week March 24 with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter March 31. In order to elect a pope in time for one of the most important week on the church calendar the new pope would have to be installed by Sunday March 17 because of the strong tradition to hold installation Mass on Sunday. Many questions have arisen since the pope announced his retirement on Feb. 11, the first to do so in 600 years. The unique problem here is how to proceed given that usually the plans follow the papal death with a period between papacies are based on this process. Cardinal Franc Rode who will participate in the conclave said that right now the Vatican is not prepared and has not had the time to predict, strategize, plan or pick candidates yet but hopes everything will be in place in two or three weeks.

More details have emerged about Benedict’s final public audience and plans for retirements according to Lombardi who says that 35,000 people have requested tickets for his final general audience on Feb. 27 in St. Peter’s Square. He continued to explain that Benedict will spend two months at the papal summer retreat with him immediately after his abdication until his retirement home is finished- a converted monastery inside Vatican walls. Then he will return to the Vatican no longer as pope around the end of April beginning of May. As whether the pope would meet with his successor or participate in his installation Mass, Lombardi said that both issues are not resolved at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Pope to leave office in 600 years – timesofmalta.com

First Pope to leave office in 600 years – timesofmalta.com.

It is rare in any lifetime to witness a pope being chosen from the college of cardinals but even rarer to see a pope leave before his time is up. In my young existence, I have witnessed both happen and will see another cardinal become a pope of one of the largest church organizations in the world, the Catholic Church. Say what you will, this will still go down in history and will be remember for a long time.

On Monday February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI did the unthinkable and said he will resign on February 28, becoming the first pontiff in 600 years to take such a step. The leader of the 1.2 billions Catholics around the world, Pope Benedict in a statement read in Latin during a church council with cardinals said that he no longer had the strength to fulfill his duties which has shocked the world. As he says,”My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” Vatican officials explained that the statement had been translated into different languages before the Pope could make his announcement for immediate dissemination. The decision by the 85 year old German Pontiff who was elected to the papacy in April of 2005 has left many wondering what to do with two living Popes and has caused a paradox for the church as this has not happened in 600 years. A conclave of cardinals expected to be he;d in March will elect a new Pope. Arrangements are underway to provide Pope Benedict with a place of residence which may be a disused monastery on Vatican grounds.

Today on Ash Wednesday in Vatican City, the Pope celebrated his final mass as pontiff presiding over services hours after explaining his decision to the faithful. The mood in St. Peter’s Basilica was somber as the finality of weight of Benedict’s decision registered with thousands of the faithful present, but ended with a standing ovation as Pope Benedict exited for the last time as pope bring tears to eyes of those closest to the man. “We wouldn’t be sincere, Your Holiness, if we didn’t tell you that there’s a veil of sadness on our hearts this evening,” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s longtime deputy, told the pope at the end of the service, his voice breaking. The crowd yelled “Viva il papa!” as the Pope stepped off the altar. By March 31, the church will have a new pope elected as it marks the end of Lent and the celebration of Easter which commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.
Benedict explained to his flock why he broke with a 600 year tradition and decided to retire: “As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005…I did this in full liberty for the good of the church.” The Vatican has revealed his final days as pope saying he will attend a farewell ceremony with his cardinals then fly to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo. Under the timetable, Benedict will be far from the Vatican when he ceases to be pope at 8p.m. on February 28 a deadline he decided on. The College of Cardinals will then organize a conclave where the 117 or so cardinals under 80 will vote to see who will succeed Benedict. Benedict’s final appearance will be on February 27 and is expected to draw a crowd and will allow the faithful to say farewell under happier circumstances than his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, died in 2005.