Pope Benedict Resigns

by Ryan on February 11, 2013

in Religion

At 5:30am there are some news alerts one is ready for at that hour — a natural disaster, some national security issue — and others you don’t see coming.

So, when news came that Pope Benedict XVI is going to resign the papacy at 8pm on February 28, I was truly completely shocked.  This marks the first time in nearly 600 years (since Gregory XII in 1415) that a Pope has resigned.  It’s hard to wrap my mind around — he’s only the second Pope I remember (I was born under Paul VI, then John Paul died before I was conscious of popes, and knew only John Paul II until his death in 2005).

Of course, being 2013 some will undoubtedly mutter about intrigue, but in the spirit of Ockham’s Razor I feel that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.  Eighty-five year old Pope Benedict writes that his reason for stepping down is health-related:

“…I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.

“However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

It will be sad to see him go, but having been appointed at 78 years old, one had to imagine that his time as pontiff would be limited.  Yet, nearly eight years later one can tell Pope Benedict’s spirit is strong, though his body weak.

This must be an extraordinarily difficult decision for any one with such power to make.  Yet, I believe that in a sense Benedict’s action demonstrates that he cares about his flock enough to understand that the Word is more important than just one ailing man’s personal desire to be relevant.  If we could all be so emotionally strong at 85!

Alas, now on to find a new Pope, who may actually be in place before Easter!

May peace be with Benedict and with our spirit.

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