There’s a saying that a lot of people use to show that they’re either very worldly, or have “been around the block” more than a few times, or have “seen it all.” It is: “Nothing surprises me anymore!” Well, I think we might now have something that surprises even those who claim to be “surprise-proof.”
So, the pope is quitting his job! Wow! I know other popes have been in poor health toward the end of their reign, but it was their death that led to their “leaving” their post and making it necessary to elect a new pope. And although there apparently have been five popes in all who resigned, this is the first one in modern times – and in the last 600 years at that! That is not exactly something that anyone would have seen before, or expected now. But maybe die-hard surprise-proof people will still say that they expected it
The only part of this that is easy to understand – and even logical enough to make it seem like the thing to do – is that when one’s health is so bad that one cannot do one’s job, one simply cannot do one’s job, and that’s that. Sure, there are always those around us who can fill in for us, and help us, if not do the actual job for us, but that really is cheating on the job. If those in the private sector did that (stayed on the job past the time they could actually do the job) – and still got paid their full salary – there would be some rightful outrage from all those who had to do their own work and the extra work that was heaped upon them to make up for the one who could no longer work at all, but still kept the job.
This is all very fresh news and very possibly more will yet surface as to the reason(s) behind the resignation. I know that back in the day when I was still Catholic, I was not pleased with the religion per se; too many things didn’t sit right with me, but one simply didn’t walk away from one’s religion just like that. In fact, if one was discovered to have “walked away,” one was called a “fallen away” Catholic. That implied that somehow the “fallen away” person was lax in their practice of the religion that was billing itself as the “true” religion. Therefore, there was always some effort on the part of the priest or the person’s still-Catholic family and friends to bring the person “back to the fold.”
I was still around my biological family when I “walked away.” My father was outraged, and could not believe it. Even though he was never a practicing Catholic himself (according to the rules of the Church), he couldn’t cut himself off from the religion in which he was brought up. He asked me what religion I was going to go into instead, assuming that perhaps I had been lured away by a more attractive one, whatever that might mean. My mother was merely surprised, since I once wanted to become a nun.
I suppose it’s possible that the pope may have had a change of beliefs, since no doubt popes are exposed to various teachings from all around the world, and are definitely subject – as we all are – to those moments of “enlightenment” when we see things with a different, or clearer, eye, making us feel it’s time to cast one set of beliefs aside to make room for what would now be seen as The Truth. But I would guess that even popes – kind of like presidents, at least in this country – do not tell the public everything that goes into their decisions, and keep some secrets even unto death.
But indeed, if the pope is so frail that he has decided to do something that no pope has done in several centuries, then so be it. If he can be “infallible” in speaking for the Church, then he can at least be pretty credible when speaking for himself.
Sure, as the news reports say, this has sent “shockwaves” throughout the Catholic world. But come on, folks! Why is hearing that the pope is in severe ill health so shocking? Why is learning that the pope believes in having the necessary faculties of both mind and body to do his job so shocking? Why is his having the integrity to own up to his beliefs and admit his current state of affairs so shocking? Now, if he was resigning to avoid a secret scandal that is looming on the horizon…THAT would be shocking. (Unfortunately, it isn’t just in today’s world or in the world of entertainers or politicians that scandals raise their ugly heads.) Yet I do not think that is the case, even though the pope had to deal with a lot of scandalous conduct among the Church’s men of the cloth during his reign.
So this is the last month for the reign of Pope Benedict XVI. That’s one marker for the Year 2013. And it’s only February. Well, at least the pope is stepping down of his own accord. I wonder where he will live. I wonder if there is a retirement package that goes with a pope’s resignation. I wonder if he will be accorded his title after he leaves office, as presidents are. I wonder if he will in any way be available for papal consultations.
Wow! This is definitely bigger than a president stepping down, since it is a worldwide kind of thing as opposed to a country thing, however well known any president is around the world.
So, goodbye, Pope Benedict! May you be able to spend your remaining days in peace. And if it means anything to you, remember that it’s never the “job” that makes the man; it’s the man that makes the “job.” Now just be the man you have grown to be, without the weight of the “job,” and enjoy whatever the days ahead hold for you.
Your resignation is okay with me.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.