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Since Benedict XVI announced his resignation as pope, Church observers have been pondering whether a new precedent has been set. Could papal resignations become more commonplace? Could a pope even be fired?
“No, a pope could not be fired,” Cardinal Edward Egan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour unequivocally on Tuesday. But he did leave open the possibility of a new precedent for popes to resign.
“The years do have an effect on all of us. And it can be that, at a certain point, our health is such that we aren't able to handle the job that has been assigned us,” Egan told Amanpour.
He compared it to the president of CNN, saying that if that person’s health was in decline he too might consider stepping down.
Amanpour replied, “Well, the head of CNN is obviously not infallible. The pope is.”
Egan acknowledged that there has not been much history of popes resigning in the Catholic Church, but said that that fact alone does not make it unacceptable.
“This wonderful man [Joseph Ratzinger] felt that he needed to step aside,” he said. “I suspect it was reasons of health. I have no inside information. He made the decision and I would say that I'm at peace with the decision. And I think the Catholic world is at peace with the decision.”