When I got into my car at 5:50 this morning, the last thing I was expecting to hear when the hourly ABC News report came on (I listen to WMAL many mornings) was that Pope Benedict XVI will be "resigning", effective at the end of the month. These are the best of thoughts I could organize regarding this somewhat unexpected move...
- I hate the word "resignation" in this context. As if he could just hand a letter to God saying "I quit". The proper word is "abdication", which brings me to the point that the Church ought to reinstate all the royal terminology regarding the pomp and ceremony of a new Pope, such as "coronation" and "abdication". "Installation" and "resignation" sound too corporate for my taste; football coaches and CEOs are installed and resign. Popes are crowned.
- I cheered loudly when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected to the Papacy in April, 2005. I even belonged to the "Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club", owning a t-shirt and enjoying his theological and liturgical works such as The Spirit of the Liturgy and Jesus of Nazareth. The Conclave that elected him had my utmost attention as I had never witnessed the proceedings before (previous Conclave being 1978, four years before my birth).
- No, I don't engage in speculation as to who is going to be the next Pope. I don't treat this as a horse race and quite honestly, media figures and publications that engage in such thinking are completely wasting their time. Only Americans (and some Western Europeans) actually spend any time considering whether or not there should be a black (or fill in the blank ethnicity, for that matter) Pope. I know I am in the minority here, but I actually do believe that the Bishop of Rome ought to be someone who is relatively local. For all the talk about the Pope being the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, he is also the local ordinary for a very specific group of Catholics, and thus needs to be in tune with their needs as well. I am not sure that having a Pope from South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, or North America will be the right call.
- The burning question to all of this is...what shall I do with my Benedict XVI bobblehead? Is it now a priceless collector's item? You tell me...
- I am a bit amused by some of the reaction from certain anti-Catholic media sources about how much the next Pope might "change" the teaching on [fill in the blank hobby horse]. Nowhere better are my feelings summed up by Robert George. A small taste:
Although I ought to be used to it by now, I still find the parochialism of liberal secular elites stunning. Their small-minded preoccupation with sex and gender is, in its way, amusing. A pope abdicates for the first time in centuries, and what immediately pops into the mind of Nicholas Kristof and his ilk? Contraception, women’s ordination, and celibacy. Oy vey.
As they say, read the whole thing.
- And finally, leave it to British media to talk up Catholic conspiracy theories...
I will have more thoughts as we get closer to D-Day and the new Conclave.