The Other I

February 11, 2013

The resignation of the pope

Benedict XVI announced today that he is resigning at the end of this month.  He said that he was too old to continue to do the job required of the pontiff.

If that is the real reason, I admire his capacity for self-knowledge.  It has seemed to me over the years that one of the great challenges of old age which too many of us fail is to recognize that we can’t do what we used to do.  We might have accomplished a great deal, we might have been great leaders in our fields of endeavour, our contributions may have been significant.

But no matter how large or small our achievements may have been, we do not stay at the top of our game.  Our physical and mental energies decrease.  We are not what we were.

And quite possibly, the higher up the tree one has climbed, the harder it is to recognize this.

So if Benedict has in truth been able to recognize that he simply no longer belongs in the position of leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, I think his decision is one that many of us need to emulate in our own small ways.

But of course in this age of lost innocence, one cannot help but wonder.  The popes have declared themselves infallible, but it has thus far been beyond even a pope to declare himself incorruptible, competent and wise.

Is there some scandal threatening to emerge, some new cover-up of hierarchical corruption, paedophilia, or hypocrisy that is what the pope really does not have the strength or courage to face?

I don’t know.  Obviously I don’t know.  I do hope this decision is one of humility and wisdom.  If it is, it may perhaps be one of the biggest benefits to the church of this pontiff’s reign.

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4 Comments »

  1. I don’t know why they can’t pick a younger person. The poor old men.
    In sure this old man would rather watch daytime TV and have a cup of tea than have the issues of the Catholic church to deal with.
    Awful job, I’m sure.

    Like

    Comment by sanstorm — February 11, 2013 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

    • I noticed when the new archbishop of Canterbury was sworn in last month, one commentator said that the advantage of Justin Welby’s appointment was that he hadn’t been a bishop long enough to become “one of the boys.” Maybe the problem with electing a cardinal under the age of 75 to be pope is that he has not yet proven himself sufficiently to be “one of the boys.” Pope John XXII and his attempts to modernize the RC Church with Vatican II upset the Vatican power structure to its roots in a short reign of only five years, and they have been trying to get the toothpaste back into the tube ever since. I’m putting my money (though not my hopes) on an Italian being elected. Second bet is on a Canadian. We should know by Easter at the latest.

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      Comment by Terry Sissons — February 12, 2013 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  2. it seems to me that you don’t really understand the meaning of papal infallibility. you speak of it with so much bitterness. the pope is only infallible under strict circumstances. like Papa Emeritus. he loves cats. but he can’t take his cats inside the papal palace because pets are not allowed. even if he was a pope, he needs to follow rules. and yes, his resignation was out of humility.

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    Comment by Me — November 4, 2014 @ 3:10 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I appreciate hearing your take on what I said. Actually, I do understand the meaning of papal infallibility, and appreciate that the popes have spoken ex cathedra only infrequently since declaring their infallibility. However, the infallible doctrines of the Church also include teachings of the Church for the 1800 years preceding that declaration.

      But I would be interested to know why you say I “speak with so much bitterness.” I disagree with the doctrine of infallibility as the RC Church defines it. I disagree with it rather emphatically. But I’m not aware of feeling bitter. I disagree with a lot of things, a lot of people and a lot of ideas – Communism, Hitler, climate-change deniers, ISIS, the Republicans most of the time, — the list is very long and varied. But I’m not bitter with everybody I disagree with, even when I disagree vehemently. Are you?

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      Comment by theotheri — November 4, 2014 @ 9:53 pm | Reply


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