Monday, February 11, 2013

"Morto un Papa se ne fa un altro" or simply "Life goes on"

The world is stunned by the breaking news announcement of Pope Benedict XVI resigning. Italians newspapers and critics are defining it an event of massive historic proportions.

Leaders across Italy and Europe define it as an admirable, courageous and respectful gesture.
I am however perplexed, irritated and confused by it.

Under canon law it is apparently in a Pope's right to resign. But this is the first time since the XV century. Why?

Assuming that the physical difficulties are indeed slowly incapacitating him and preventing him from enduring his ministry adequately, I can see how resigning and allowing a fitter Bishop of Rome to take the lead, may be seen as an admirable and honest gesture.
Possibly even an extraordinary innovative one that could mark the future of the Catholic Church.

But why would this be a courageous act? Who is the Pope saving by doing so?

For me, like for many others, a Pope is a Pope until death.

Even Dante expressed this very clearly in his " Divina Comedia":

« Poscia ch'io v'ebbi alcun riconosciuto,
vidi e conobbi l'ombra di colui
che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto
» (Inferno canto terzo)

If we define his "gran rifiuto" (act of resignation) courageous then we must play devils advocate and ask: could this be a gesture of viltade (cowardness) instead?

I can't help indulging in the comparison with Giovanni Paolo II,  a Pope who I hold close to my hearth, and a Pope who remained "Servus Servorum Dei" until the very end, despite an assassination attempt, cancer, severe arthritis and Parkinson.

How do we reconcile John Paul's incredible life journey with Ratzinger's resignation? Some say it is not our place to question the decision, simply to respect it.  Perhaps they are right.

A decision with enormous historic and political consequences, too complex to fully understand or rationalize with simple speculations such health issues, or possible political pressures.

I am saddened and I am left hoping some of our Italian Institutional leaders are inspired to follow suit!

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