(Yahoo) When I learned of the news that Pope Benedict XVI was going to become the first pope in six centuries to resign from office, I immediately thought, I wonder what Alex Gibney makes of this? His documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God details the integral role that Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, played in investigating the sex-abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church, and, given the ample space that the New York Times devoted to that subject in its report on the resignation, I was left with impression that, behind the scenes, the continuing controversy may have played a part in the Pope’s decision to step down.
“I can’t help but think that the sex abuse crisis must have been on his mind,” Gibney emailed back when I asked for his take on the news. “There was no going forward on that issue while he was in office.” The filmmaker added: “I give him credit for resigning. That brought a bit of modernity to the Papacy.”
In announcing that he would resign on Feb. 28, the Pope, who’s 85, indicated that “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his responsibilities as the head of the Catholic Church. Dealing — or not dealing, as Benedict’s critics have claimed — with the sex-abuse scandals must have been a taxing part of that job. And though the Times did not draw any direct correlation between the controversy and Benedict’s decision to step down, the paper of record did note that, in 2010, outraged critics of the church’s handling of these clerical abuses had called on Benedict to resign.
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