February 22, 2013
It has been about six hundred years since the last Pope left while in office. It was a negotiated abdication. That abdication helped heal the “Great Schism” that had afflicted the Church for seventy years. This occurred when the Popes resided in Avignon, France. The politics of the time were very disturbing to the life of the church. The leaders of nations were attempting to control the spiritual community. That resignation brought the Church back into a proper focus on unity.
This pontiff has abdicated purely from a desire to assist the Church. It was his personal decision derived from a sense of responsibility. No one forced him to do give up the power or office of the Supreme Pontiff. His vision of the Papacy is evidently one of love and service to the Body of Christ and to the World. He does not wish to hold power if he cannot in his own estimation serve the Church properly. This is a matter of personal conscience. This is also a great act of humility. Pope Benedict sees the Papacy as a way to follow Christ in service to others. His resignation brings us into a spiritual focus.
Our Lord gave up His Life for us. Pope Benedict XVI has given up an office of great authority out of love for the Church. Our Lord suffered a great deal for us. Pope Benedict is certainly making a sacrifice now. We should indeed pray for him and the Church Universal at this time. The Pope stated that he was resigning the “Petrine Ministry” as of February 28, 2013. This indicates that the Papacy is a ministry of love and truth, even more than one of power and authority.
We know that he is very concerned about calling people back to understand and practice Christian faith and values. What a wonderful Christ like example we see in this man, Benedict XVI. He will soon be called again Joseph Ratzinger. His talents and knowledge are very great. We may well see more books about Scripture and the Faith being published under his name. As the Church moves forward, we may love him more as a teacher and guide, perhaps even more than we did as our Pontiff.