Will the Next Pope Make a Difference?

FILE - This April 19, 2005 file photo shows Pope Benedict XVI greeting the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basi
FILE - This April 19, 2005 file photo shows Pope Benedict XVI greeting the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica moments after being elected, at the Vatican. On Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 Benedict XVI announced he would resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis/FILE)

Will Pope Benedict's resignation make any difference in the world? He has appointed a College of Cardinals profoundly dug into his narrow vision of the world, so it would really take a miracle, the suffusion of the College by the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, the Interbreathing Spirit of all life, to change the Church by election of a pope more in the tradition of Jesus and John XXIII.

What would another pope like Benedict mean? The evidence is mounting higher and higher that as Cardinal Ratzinger, the present pope, controlled and arranged the concealment of hundreds of cases of priests around the world who abused and raped children.

As pope, he ordered attacks by the Vatican on the American nuns who have committed their lives to working with and for the poor -- not only in direct service but in advocating public policy. The Vatican has condemned them for not putting their energy instead into criminalizing abortion and opposing contraception.

Pope Benedict does not deserve praise from any religious leader who sees women as worthy of full respect, fully capable of making moral decisions on their own and fully deserving of legal and religious support for their own religious freedom. Nor does he deserve praise from any religious leader who believes the protection and sustenance of children is far more important than the protection of criminal priests.

Assessment and judgment of the past will be necessary to healing of the future. Perhaps the scandal of the priestly abuse of children and the even worse scandal that bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes protected those criminal priests will so stir the conscience of the College of Cardinals -- or at least their prudential judgment, about the reputation of the Church -- that an unexpected choice will emerge. For the sake of the world as well as of the Church, let us hope so. Even pray so.

Shalom, salaam, pax, paz, peace -- Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns