I remember when Pope John Paul I died in 1978. There was a sense that God was taking extraordinary measures to do something amazing, which he did with the election of a Polish Pope. Today, with the news of Benedict XVI abdicating the chair of Peter, I have a similar sense that God is up to something extraordinary. Our beloved Pope Benedict has carried the torch for the JP II generation. He's been a true father to us all. Thank you, Holy Father! We love you and, with you, we place all our confidence and hope in God's providence at this remarkable moment of the Church's journey.Yep.
As Kaitlin said so well, things like these help us remember the bond we all have as Catholics. I love that across the world we can come together to pray for Papa Ben in the last days of his papacy, pray for the conclave as it convenes, pray for the new pope as he takes office.
I love the reminder that for all the authority that the pope has, it's not about him. When he needs to, he can give two weeks' notice and step down from the office, allowing someone else to succeed him. Things will not fall to pieces, but will continue on. Because the true head of the Church is Christ, and He's not going anywhere.
Just as a little perspective about how long it's been since a pope resigned, the last time it happened was before there were any Protestants.
Now if we could just get people to understand that electing a pope is not a popularity contest, nor is it a political power move, nor will the new pope have the authority to change many of the teachings that they want changed, and that the pope really is simply feeling his age at 85 (86?) and there is not a more sinister underlying issue. Give it up, folks!