Pope Benedict "burdened" by sex abuse, butler scandals, papal expert says

(CBS News)Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Catholic world early on Monday, with the news that he will resign as the 265th leader of the Catholic Church at the end of the February. Citing health reasons, the 85-year-old said he was "fully aware of the gravity" of his decision.

Professor Chester Gillis, a theology professor at Georgetown University and the dean of Georgetown College, told "CBS This Morning," that he and all papal observers were shocked by the news.

"In contemporary times, it was unthinkable. I think perhaps he was influenced by his predecessor whose declining years were very difficult for him and for the church," Gillis said, citing Pope John Paul II's years of poor health.

However, Gillis acknowledged that the series of sexual abuse scandalsthat have cost the Catholic church over $2 billion in settlements, "has something to do with it. To shoulder this job is a grave responsibility ... certainly the scandals have been a tremendous burden both morally and financially for the church."

Another scandal plagued the papacy in 2012, when apapal butler leaked personal and official documents to an Italian journalist, implicating the Vatican in nepotism and corruption.

"When there is some betrayal internally, I can't imagine that you don't take that personally," Gillis said of the latest scandal. "It's been a heavy burden for him ... I've always wondered, 'Does he really enjoy being pope?' ... It was very clear that John Paul II enjoyed every minute of the papacy. I think that Benedict has seen it as a significant burden to carry and he's carried it with dignity, but I think he had a different disposition toward the office.

Looking ahead to the appointment of a new pope, Gillis guessed that the church may choose a cardinal of a less "advanced age" and that while the possibility is "remote," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, could be a candidate.

"America is so powerful already so to have someone from our country is adding power. I think the Italian cardinals will think different about that. I think they would like the papacy back."

The next pope will also have to confront the unique situation of "having a former pope looking over his shoulder," Gillis said before adding, "what kind of advisory role he might have in the Vatican is unknown at this point." A return to his native Germany is also a likely option for Benedict, according to Gillis, who was known as a "distinguished theologian" in his home country before he became pope.

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