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Can the pope be fired?

March 12th, 2013
07:44 PM ET

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.”

Filed under:  Catholic Church • catholicism • Latest Episode
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Sheila

    This guy is completely deluded. People in the Archdiocese of New York are "happy" with the church? He's either insane, or a liar.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Reply

    I have just watched you interview Cardinal Egan. He was briliant in his answers. I was a moslem for over 50 years and became a christian – a proud Catholic in 2001 attaracted by its traditions and the transparent manner in which its finances are handled in Tanzania. The Catholic church is seen as liberal compared to the new churches setting up here.
    What kind of a pope are we looking for in Africa, in my view?
    A pope who can avengelise its members, a pope who has to travel to Africa, Latin America, Asia and other places where his people are and be in touch which the people he will lead, a pope willing to modrnise the administration of the headquarters and of the finances of the church at headquarters.
    I do not care where our next pope comes from but that we should get the right pope.
    When people who have left the Catholic church, but eventually many of them return, are asked why they left, the answer often is that the Catholic Church has no fun. However this has to do more with the delivery of mass by priests and the way we sing. The new churches use contmporary music and a lot of dancing. In my village, which I visit often, we just received a new young and energetic priest who obviously prepares well for mass and is inspiring and visits with the villagers and is engaged in what they do. Church attendance in my village has soared.

    March 13, 2013 at 6:40 am | Reply
  3. Chigozie Stalwart

    Catholic people knows the best, as for me I think they should do whatever they are pleased.

    March 13, 2013 at 11:08 am | Reply
  4. raj

    ha ha why you wanna fire after getting him elected it just amazes me that sometimes we make few individuals to such a high rank and then bring them down for petty reasons after all we all are human and they say its err to human i.e humans are bound to do errors hence lets not raise someone to that height and then start blindly following them use your judgement to identify whats good and what is bad.. be human and practice humanity.. you dont need to sac anyone..

    March 14, 2013 at 3:19 am | Reply
  5. salino333

    Pope with free-ticket to god!
    People were waiting, they had some expectations, they probably wanted to see that there is some response to the ongoing cry for reforms and that somebody who is young and full of life takes the dust away! Somebody who could break with tradition, see that the medival times are definitely over and that a belief is a kind of dress in the wardrobe of the whole fashioned world, that impacts life in regions, nations of men and women with different views and wantings. So church could help to take prejudice and corruption out of our daily life. But: Jesuits are hard-core missioners! Embracing the poor and living simple without a car and luxery that is not convincing. Going back to the roots while sticking to them and without another movement than going backwards all the time, has a bitter taste, a smell of cynism to those who thought it could be different.... Yes – a pope should be fired if all the people get the impression that there is something wrong with their belief in that what they call 'their church.' But we should give him a change at least...

    March 14, 2013 at 3:45 am | Reply
  6. Victor Linar

    If the Pope chose Francis for Asissi or Francis Javier of the Jesuit??????

    March 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  7. graceblink amarachi

    i thougth that cardinal Arinze will be the next pope but my thougt doesn't come true. When will the black be the next pope? And when will a cardinal within the range of 50 and 60 be a pope to avoid another resignition

    March 15, 2013 at 7:32 am | Reply
  8. Savio Gomes

    No African male will become Pope. African Christians are too unorthodox to fit into the papacy mold. A young pope will never again be elected after the painfully long papacy of JPII who ought to have retired at least five to six years before he passed away.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply

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