THE Catholic Church and indeed the world are coming to grips with the fact that Pope Benedict XVI will exit the Papacy by the end of February.
The impact of the rare decision on the future of the Papacy, the 1.5 billion people the Pope leads and the entire global community which his words and actions affect remains a matter of conjectures.
Even without such mounting concerns as nuclear armaments and authoritarian rules, the Papacy remains one of the most powerful social, political, and religious institutions in the world. The position is too entrenched to change with a new man in the saddle.
At 85, the Pope shocked the world with news of his retirement on grounds of failing strength to perform his papal duties.
By this action, Pope Benedict XVI followed after Pope Benedict IX, 1045 AD, Pope John XVII, Pope Gregory VI 1046 AD, Pope Celestine V, 1294 AD and Pope Gregory XII 1415 AD. The departure of the Pope also appeals to the moral hubris of civil politicians who see public service as a terminal enterprise.
We commend Pope Benedict XVI and wish him well in his deserved rest. He has played his part in the growth and development of the Catholic Church and faith in God.
His place in history is guaranteed, regardless of whatever facts that may surface about his leadership as the Vicar of Christ, one of the Pope's other numerous titles.
What is paramount now is who succeeds the Pope and the vision he brings to the Papacy.
The growing and embarrassing revelations of paedophile among the priests, and his butler's leakage of financial misdeeds in the Vatican seriously troubled Pope Benedict XVI and may have added emotional stress to the Pontiff.
It is doubtful if the exit of Pope Benedict XVI would douse attacks on the Catholic Church and on the Papacy.
We live in a world that has increasingly become scientific and secularised and the Catholic Church, which ruled the world for centuries, will remain a subject of curiosity, so will be the lifestyle of its priests.
The forces of liberalism feel offended by the haughty and puritanical stance of the Church - they would not relent in their assault on the Catholic Church, if only to weaken its authority on moral issues.
We support the views that an African or Asian should be the next Pope, considering that only these parts still pursue the moral traditions that sustain humanity. A Pope of these origins would also align with the Church's universality.