I'm aware that previous discussion on meta has established that there is room for politics on Christianity.SE. At the same time, questions have been closed because they are only relevant at a specific point in time.

Here are some sample questions. I've arbitrarily chosen Pope Benedict XVI's recent resignation as fodder for this meta question. I have no intention of asking any of these questions on Christianity.SE, I just figured these would be good example questions to point to in the future (some are intentionally provocative). Some of them are intentionally here even though I know they should not be asked on SE. I think this can be a handy reference in the future for newcomers.

  1. Who are the main candidates for Pope since Cardinal Ratzinger has resigned?
  2. Does the Pope's resignation have anything to do with the recent findings that have come to light about Cardinal Ratzinger's involvement in investigating church sex scandals?
  3. Do you think Roman Catholics are ready for a black Pope (Arinze)?
  4. In the wake of Pope Benedict's resignation, the media keep saying that Gregory XII was the last Pope to resign in 1415, but wasn't he actually deposed by a council? If so, who was the last Pope to resign?*
  5. Are there any theological difficulties created by the resignation of a Pope, specifically concerning the doctrine of Papal infallibility?
  6. What is the proper title by which to address a former Pope?
  7. Is Pope Benedict XVI allowed to participate in the conclave to elect his successor (as a Cardinal)?

I'm looking for feedback on which (if any) would be considered appropriate and why or why not.

**Just for kicks, the answer to #4 is that the last pope to resign voluntarily was Celestine V in 1294. Gregory XII (whom the media keep mentioning) was indeed deposed by a council in 1415 - he did not resign voluntarily.*

  • 1
    Pope Benedict XVI is going to resign?!? I have a lot of questions, but Christianity isn't the first place I'd go for answers to them. Of course, news like this is a useful springboard for questions that would be good no matter what was going on in the world at the moment. Questions 4-7 fit into that category in my opinion. Feb 11, 2013 at 18:13
  • @JonEricson he DID resign.
    – Dan
    Feb 11, 2013 at 19:41
  • @JonEricson and you picked up on my intent very well, 4-7 were intended to be good for the site and 1-3 were not ;)
    – Dan
    Feb 11, 2013 at 19:44
  • And I think I am going to ask #4 just so this site gets some of the search engine traffic from all of this....
    – Dan
    Feb 11, 2013 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


I'd like to go on record as saying we should steer clear of questions that invite speculation, but questions about the facts relating to political machinations within sects are welcome provided they can be answered with some measure of factual statements rather than idle speculation.

Let's dig into your specific question examples.

  1. This is probably not constructive, candidates for a position in a sect would be a rather speculative list. The better question here is to ask about what the required qualifications here, answers that speculate potential candidates might be appropriate, but a question asking for them should be closed.

  2. This is pure speculation and is probably not constructive. Asking about the reasons the pope gave (his failing health) might be OK (though borderline as it would likely lead to further speculation), but the whole idea about asking for the rationale of a personal decision is fairly NC by nature.

  3. As interesting as this question is, it's not really the type of question we want to deal in. It's mostly speculation, thus it's a great question for chat and would likely lead to a very engaging discussion.

  4. Good solid factual question, though potentially just a wikipedia link away, a comprehensive answer here would be a boon to the site.

    5-7. All good questions provided the question gives appropriate context. They are based in facts, about church practice and should be answerable with appropriate research. The only concern would be making sure to phrase 5 in a way that is not demeaning to Catholicism.

  • I agree with your analysis. In addition, the answers to 1-3 will become obsolete and worthless as information comes out. Essentially, those questions ask us to duplicate the efforts of other sites, such as Wikipedia, Google, and news organizations. That just doesn't play to our strengths. Feb 11, 2013 at 18:18
  • I fully agree. I did end up turning #4 into a question. I'll only accept a response that cites quality sources (i.e. not Wikipedia).
    – Dan
    Feb 11, 2013 at 19:57

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