The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

February 13, 2013

What does pope’s resignation mean?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 — Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation of the papacy at the end of this month. April would have marked eight years for the pope. He cites depreciating mental and physical health, not internal politics or controversies, as the reasons for his reignation.

Apparantly, the world was stunned by such a gesture, and I was a little surprised, for Pope Benedict hadn’t discussed the move with any of his aides or advisors. Furthermore, this is the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages (the previous one being Gregory XII in 1415).

I think it takes a great amount of humility to admit when one’s had enough. Often times, I don’t know when to stop, draw the line and save my breath.

Not only does Pope Benedict know his limitations, he’s not afraid to express that to the world.

The pope is an office, a mantel that conveys a certain amount of respect, power and inspiration. Pope Benedict recognizes that he can no longer provide a bastion of strength and leadership for the people who look to him for guidance. Rather than cheat his people of the leader and leadership they deserve, Pope Benedict has chosen to step aside and let another serve.

Again, I’m touched by the man’s self-awareness and courage.

One doesn’t resign an office like that of the papacy on a whim.

John Paul II presided over the office from 1978 to his death in 2005.

John Paul I served for 33 days, August to his death in September 1978.

Pope Paul VI labored from 1963 until his death in 1978.

These men all served until they literally could serve no more.

I don’t call into question the papacies of these men, I simply wonder if any of them may have suffered from some of the same difficiencies.

I’ve been told old age does a number on the body and mind.

Popes tend to be on the older side, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s working against them, after all the church was founded on the teachings of a fairly young man and his, mostly, young disciples.

But I say, let’s look on the bright side.

With another occupying the office of the papacy, Pope Benedict will be free to recuperate from the taxing service of Pope and then be able to better serve the world, as he no doubt will continue to do.

He’ll be something like President Clinton or Bush after leaving the office of president. The men used their power and prestige of their former office to do good works in the world still.

Imagine what the world will be like with a resigned pope waiting in the wings.

Imagine who he’ll be able to devote time to, what causes he’ll be able to rally behind.

It’s a resource the world hasn’t seen for 600 years.

Pope Benedict’s resignation has the potential to be as productive as his papacy.

 

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