A Lesson to be Learned

Two weeks ago a lightning bolt struck St. Peter’s Cathedral in
Vatican City.  Ironically enough it happened on the same day that Pope
Benedict XVI decided to step away from his duties as the head of the Catholic Church.
 That left people all around the world asking the same question “Can
he do that?”  Apparently, he can.  That begs the question, who does
he resign too?  Does he actually have a direct link to God?  Evidently
church law doesn’t specify who he has to resign to but the College of Cardinals
is a safe bet.
What the Pope did
has to be commended, since it has been 600 plus years that a pope has not died
at the head of the church.  We have seen this far too often, not just in
the church, but in television, sports, and especially politics.  It was excruciating
to watch the “Rocking New Year’s Eve” show with Dick Clark after his
stroke, you needed subtitles to understand him.  The same goes for rock
singer Ozzy Osbourne on his old show and stage.  I still have nightmares
of the 1996 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta when boxing great Muhammad
Ali, suffering from Parkinson’s syndrome lit the Olympic flame.  He was
shaking so much I thought he was going to light himself on fire.
Have previous
Pope’s stayed at the helm until death because they felt they had too?  I
don’t know.  It may have to do with the fact that there is nothing in
Canon Law that states they can resign or have to stay until death.  It
states that the ruling of the church must continue if the pope is incapacitated
but doesn’t declare who determines incapacitation.  So it puts the pope in
a no win situation.
Rumor has it that
Pope Benedict XVI never wanted to be pope, being elected was twist that he was
not expecting.  What the pope has done has set a precedent for the next
Cardinal that takes the papal rein when the College of Cardinals elects the
next Bishop of Rome.  When the next pope has had enough, he can get out.
 Will that happen?  It’s highly doubtful but not out of the realm.
 But the retirement could definitely put the hierarchy of the church into
a new perspective.  Carol Williams of the L.A. Times wrote in her column
two days after the resignation “The
newly perceived option of retirement also could encourage the College of
Cardinals to consider younger, more dynamic candidates when choosing a new pope
or even extending to the papacy the retirement age of 75 that applies to

As a practicing Catholic
I am very interested to see how this plays out.  The Catholic Church has
been struggling to keep its parishioners over the past decade or so.  Most
of it has to do with the sexual scandals that rocked the church several years
back, but another factor is that true practicing Catholics are aging out and it
does not appeal to young church goers.  I think the installation of young
priests, Bishops and Cardinals will slowly start the appeal to the younger
crowd.  I applaud the Pope for retiring and I hope the new Pope will do
the best he can to transform the Catholic Church to better appeal to young
If you don’t take
it from me, ask my wife.

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