Posts Tagged “resignation”

Former Congressman Mark SouderA “social conservative” Republican Congressman from Indiana, Mark Souder, resigned from Congress today. The reason? He had an extramarital affair to which political operatives were tipped off recently, as the Washington Post reports (WebCite cached article):

Indiana congressman Mark Souder’s resignation, announced Tuesday, came after anonymous tipsters called his aides and his opponents in a Republican primary to say he was having an extramarital affair with a part-time staffer, according to sources familiar with the calls.

The conservative Christian congressman’s chief of staff, Renee Howell, confronted him last week over the rumored affair with Tracy Meadows Jackson, according to a source in the office. …

The affair began after Jackson was hired in 2004, according to the source in the office. Jackson, who is married, was to be a guest host with Souder for a daily radio spot he recorded for WFCV, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Souder is not your garden-variety ardent Religious Rightist, however. As pointed out by Avi Zenilman at Vanity Fair, once railed against extramarital sex during a hearing where Zenilman’s father — then a doctor working for the CDC — testified (WebCite cached article):

Souder ultimately responded by saying that teen sex needs to be aggressively confronted, like date rape, because out-of-wedlock sex always leads to pregnancy and ruins lives.

Once again, a Religious Right politician shows he can be a Hypocrite for Jesus — in spite of Jesus’ own clear, unambiguous, explicit orders to his followers never to be hypocritical.

What makes Souder’s resignation even worse, however, is his “I’ve sinned” version of the classic non-apology apology (as transcribed by Fox News, with a cached version):

I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.

In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. …

The ideas we advocate are still just and right.

America will survive and thrive when anchored in those values.

Human beings, like me, will fail, but our cause is greater than individuals.

It is based upon eternal truths.

Gee, I dunno … a sitting Congressman who advocates forcing Puritanical behavior on American adolescents, having an extramarital affair and thus engaging in incredibly hypocritical — and therefore thoroughly non-Christian — behavior, while at the same time claiming to be a warrior in a “right” and “holy” cause which is inarguably and incontrovertibly true, for all eternity … doesn’t seem like some tiny little thing that’s being “twisted for political gain.” It seems, instead, like a very serious personal moral collapse! It also suggests that, perhaps, these “eternal truths” somehow aren’t quite “true” enough to get people who claim to hold them, to actually obey them.

What a creep. Good riddance.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pope Gregory XIILots of mass-media stories lately have brought up the possibility that the scandal-plagued and increasingly-discredited Pope Benedict XVI might resign. It is, after all, not unheard of for politicians or heads of corporations to resign when confronted by situations of this sort. However, most of these same stories — such as this one by ABC News — conclude that the Pope cannot resign:

Experts in canon law say only a heavenly bolt of lightning can take the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from power as the supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

“The only person who can fire him is God,” said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, who worked at the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C., and was one of the first whistle blowers when the sex scandals broke in 1984.

“A pope is never forced to resign, not under the current canon law,” said Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for the Tablet weekly. “A pope can voluntarily resign, but it’s interesting… Who would take his resignation?”

With all due respect to Fr Doyle and Mr Mickens, however, the idea that the Pope cannot resign, is bullshit. It is, in fact, possible. It’s explicitly stated in canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law:

Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.

Thus, the answer to the question Mickens asks, i.e. to whom would the Pope tender his resignation? is: No one! He doesn’t have to give it to anyone. He merely has to disclose that he’s resigning. That’s all that’s needed, nothing more.

It is also not true that no Pope has ever resigned. In fact, it’s happened multiple times. The last such occasion was when Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, an act which effectively ended the Great Western Schism — a particularly uplifting period in ecclesiastial history, a time when two, and later three, popes contended for control of the Church and of Europe.*

Granted it’s been a little over 6 centuries since this last papal resignation, but the canon law permitting it to happen is still there, and can still be used by Benedict XVI, if he chooses to do so.

None of this is impossible to research; the information I provide here is available to anyone on the Internet if they simply take a few minutes to find it. So I suggest the reporters at ABC News — and all other outlets — actually look into it before writing stupid news stories that report untruths as fact.

* The part about the Western Schism being “uplifting” is, of course, sarcasm. The truth is that there was very little good about it … except that it exposed the political, structural, bureaucratic, and moral bankruptcy of the Church at that time. The grotesque debacle known as the Cadaver Synod served much the same purpose as well, as did the period soon after it, known to the Church as the Saeculum obscurum.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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