Religious Studies Professor Peter Beisheim Weighs In On Pope Benedict Resignation

February 13, 2013

In the wake of the Pope Benedict's resignation, Religious Studies Professor Peter Beisheim, an expert on the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, has been quoted widely in the local media on the surprise announcement. Here are some of his quotes:

Modern Move
"By resigning, he's now, I think, put the papacy into a different light. It's going to shift thinking. Maybe the possibility is that this resignation will begin to have people reexamine the length of time, the options, the choices (of papal tenure)," Professor Beisheim told The Enterprise (Brockton).

"What do you do with an ex-Pope? Having an ex-Pope and a Pope functioning at the same time, I don't know if people would consider that to be a conflict or not. It is so new," Professor Beisheim commented to the Boston Herald.

Next Pope
Looking ahead to who will be the next Pope, Professor Beisheim told the Standard Times (New Bedford) that the College of Cardinals will be looking for, "someone not tainted in anyway with the sex abuse scandal, not tainted with Vatican finances and the Vatican Bank, and not tainted by anything leaked out."

Clean Slate
"Now is the real possibility for someone who is a bit freer of that (the scandals) and to start with more of a clean slate," Beisheim explained to the Boston Herald, adding that the next Pope must be "tech-savvy, like Pope Benedict who launched himself on Twitter last year."

Future Possibilities
The stunning resignation of Pope Benedict has created immense speculation about the future and, according to Professor Beisheim, this event has engendered a sense and hope of "real" possibilities within the Catholic Church. In an exchange with the College's Communications and Media Relations staff, he identified five characteristics he would like the next Pope to bring to the leadership of the Church.

• A Pope shaped by the Global South realities. That is, a leader who has encountered and experienced the dark-side of economic globalization, regional conflicts, and environmental devastation.

• A Pope with an "inclusive mindset." That is, a Pope open to dialogue with non-Western cultures, non-Christian religions & spiritualties, and non-Traditional theologies.

• A Pope who truly loves and values women, for who they are and for their contributions to family: to society: politics, commerce, arts, law, medicine; and yes, in this context, to the Church.

• A Pope open to the creative possibilities of technology not limited to 140- character tweets or blogs.

• And lastly, a Pope, unafraid and ready to discuss, explore, and engage any question, any issue in and outside of the Church.


For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.