I was stunned by the abdication (called resignation) of Pope Benedict XVI. I have admired Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for many years. He did a super job as Pope John Paul II’s defender of Catholic doctrine. In light of John Paul’s emphasis on defending and advancing the central doctrines of the Church (I am not Catholic but am a conservative Christian) as well as his Jesus centered sermons and encyclicals cast an evangelistic tone to the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict tried to continue that program, although few if any could effectively succeed such a talented and charismatic pontiff. I also felt that Cardinal Ratzinger would have made, in another life, a fabulous Mayor of Chicago or Philadelphia! He had excellent personal skills.
(Blogger’s note: I got the Pope’s name spelled wrong in the initial title! Sorry!)
But, let’s get the word right: ABDICATE not RESIGN. I think Pope Benedict was trying to establish a modern precedent for a pope to leave office voluntarily as needed. He placed the Church first. I respect that intent. Maybe a foreshadowing of abdication? It is reported in Wikipedia that Pope Benedict XVI actually honored Celestine V (The most notable Pope to abdicate recently:
To mark the 800th anniversary of Celestine’s birth, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Celestine year from 28 August 2009 through 29 August 2010.
His entry in the Martyrologium Romanum for 19 May reads as follows:
- Ad Castrum Fumorense prop Alatrium in Latio, natalis sancti Petri Caelestini, qui, cum vitam eremeticam in Aprutio ageret, fama sanctitatis et miraculorum clarus, octogenarius Romanus Pontifex electus est, assumpto nomine Caelestini Quinti, sed eodem anno munere se abdicavit et solitudinem recedere maluit.
At Castrum Fumorense near Alatri in Lazio, the birth of Saint Peter Celestine, who, when leading the life of a hermit in Abruzzo, being famous for his sanctity and miracles, was elected Roman Pontiff as an octogenarian, assumed the name Celestine V, but abandoned his office that same year and preferred to return to solitude.