HAVE NO PROFOUND THOUGHTS on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, to take place on February 28. I am as surprised as anyone else, and I’m still trying to digest it all. I admire the Holy Father’s intellectual and spiritual depth, and his incredible wisdom guided by the Holy Spirit, and I will miss his leadership. But I do have what I hope will be some useful reminders.
First, Christ has promised that he will be with his Church until the end of time (Matt. 28:20) and that the gates of Hell will not prevail (Matt. 16:18). One should pray for Benedict XVI, and pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to be present with the cardinal electors. But one should never be afraid for the future of the Church. The Church will be just fine, and no pope can change its teachings.
Second, one should not read into Benedict XVI’s decision more than is actually there. He has said he is resigning because of his age and health, and speculating about what-else-is-behind-this-that-we-don’t-yet-know-about is pointless.
Third, the prognostications of St. Malarkey are just that: malarkey. Like the writings of Nostradamus, they are written so vaguely that any pope can be inserted into any of the descriptive statements. Not even Christ knows the day or the hour (Matt. 24:36).
Fourth, speculating who will be Benedict XVI’s successor is just as pointless as anything else–a fun parlor game, maybe, but meaningless. The papal conclave will choose the man the Holy Spirit has already chosen. Like anyone else, I have my personal favorite. But I am not a cardinal and the Holy Spirit has not promised to guide my own wishes.
Finally, we must trust that even in this decision the pope was led by the Holy Spirit, and God knows what he is doing. The most useful thing any of us can do in the weeks to come is to pray and to trust in the wisdom of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. 28:18–20, KJV.)
Photo Credit: Pope Benedict XVI, 16 January 2013. U.S. Defense Department photo. Public domain.