I was up before the crack of dawn this morning, and was about to start getting ready for my commute. I turned on the television, and was watching one of the local Boston stations when they announced the breaking news of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation. To be honest, my immediate reaction was: “What the !@#$%$!” I immediately changed the channel to the BBC World News for details on this event. To say the least the Catholic and religion blogospheres have positively humming over this news. The Catholic News Service, the Religion News Service, and the Vatican Insider have all posted reports. Contributors to the Jesuit America Magazine Web site, like Father James Martin SJ, have posted their commentaries. Some Catholic bloggers on the Patheos web site have also weighed in on this news. The National Catholic Reporter has created a special page on their web site, on the resignation, and the events that will follow.
Again, to be honest, I was not too thrilled when I heard that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been elected Pope. Over the years of Pope Benedict’s papacy, there have been actions and themes I have not cared for. I wish he had been more open to the concept of collegiality, on all levels of the Church, more transparency of how decisions and actions were made in the Vatican. I have always felt that he had focused too much on Europe, to the detriment of the Church in Africa and Asia. Except for the last consistory, most of his selections for new cardinals have been Europeans, specifically Italians. That being said, it is true that he has made several journeys to Africa, Latin and South America.
I was not a big supporter of his attempts to reintroduce pre-Vatican II liturgical practices, including the vestments. I am, and always will be a supporter of the post-Vatican II liturgy.
Now, after all that, I have to say that it filled my heart with joy when Pope Benedict met with the victims of sexual abuse by priests, when he visited the United States. He surprised many when he arranged for more women attend the Synod of Bishops on Evangelization as experts and observers. And I have enjoyed some of his books, most recently “Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives.”
So there has been much that has dismayed me about this papacy, and much that has given me joy. I know that the papal mantle has weighed heavy on him, and I hope that he will find peace and rest in the coming years.