Papal humility

When Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he was resigning the papacy as of February 28, 2013, he opened himself to ridicule, supposition and down right meanness from those who don’t know him. He left himself to be second-guessed by “Catholics” while the conspiracy theories abound. What an image of humility.

I have read many of the Pope’s books as well as followed his papacy pretty extensively. This is a man of great prayer … a man dedicated to Holy Mother Church … a man whose life has been directed to searching for and finding God’s will in everything. In his announcement, he mentioned: “after having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” This was not a snap judgement or one taken for selfish reasons. It is particularly compelling that he announced his resignation on the World Day of Prayer, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. We are blessed to have had him as leader of the Catholic Church for the past almost eight years. He is truly a model of humility.

His predecessor, Blessed John Paul the Great, was also a man of humility in a different way. When questions arose of his resigning due to the increasing debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s, he announced that he would serve as long as God kept him on this earth. He offered his suffering as an example … believing that this suffering was good for us all to see. He, too, is truly a model of humility.

The Pontiff of Holy Mother Church is not a political, secular leader. He is chosen by his brother cardinals through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. There is no need to question or surmise or assume. Pope Benedict, as his predecessor, is led by the Holy Spirit in this and all he does. But Pope Benedict is NOT Pope John Paul … both had very different missions to fulfill and it is quite unfair to somehow imply the Benedict is weaker, less brave, less spiritual than John Paul. They are both images of humility in their own ways.

God bless Pope Benedict … prayers for the upcoming conclave … and prayers for Holy Mother Church!

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