I’m Glad Pope Benedict Is Resigning

I’m always creeping people out talking about how cute he is, but come on! How can you not love that face??

I loved JPII. He was the pope of my conversion, the pope whose eyes shouted love for me. There were moments in my youth when I believed the lies the world tells about the Church’s misogynistic and antiquated ways, times when I felt that perhaps it was just some patriarchal bureaucracy. But I knew that my Papa loved me–not loved everybody, but loved me. When I couldn’t believe that God loved me, this Pope who responded to cries of “We love you!” with “Perhaps I love you more”–he showed me the love of Christ in a powerful way.

When he died, I sobbed. And then I rejoiced. I had loved him for so long but I knew that, as much as he loved me, he would never know my name. I studied in Rome for a semester to be near him, but 5 seats in from the aisle was the closest I was going to get. In death, he knew me. In death, he listened to me. In death, he sat beside me at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I was fully prepared to love his successor, but I knew that I would never adore him the way I adored John Paul.

And I was right. I don’t love Pope Benedict that way–but I love him just as much. See, JPII is my number 2 crush of all time. No joke, I see pictures of him at 60 and I think he’s the handsomest man I’ve ever seen. I don’t even notice that he’s old. I don’t feel that way about Papa Benny; I don’t swoon over his pictures or get butterflies in my stomach when I think about him. He’s not exciting–not the rock star John Paul was–but he feels like home. When I look at his picture or read his words, I know that I am held in the Father’s embrace. I suppose I loved JPII like I love Christ. But I love Pope Benedict like I love the Father.

So this morning’s news stunned me. Not only are we losing him, in essence, but he’s choosing to go. And yet I feel no sense of betrayal, not even confusion. There may not be a holier man in the world today; if he feels the Lord has asked him to abdicate, I trust him.

Nor does any man more deserve to retire to a life of prayer. For 85 years, Pope Benedict has poured out his life for the Church. In recent years, he has prayed and written and spoken and traveled and suffered ridicule and abuse and yet still he loves us. A dear student of mine was blessed to meet him once; she told me that she has never in her life felt more loved than when he looked in her eyes.

Even in stepping down, he is serving us.

And now he feels that he is no longer capable of giving the Church what she needs. I have a hard time believing that any man alive would be better at this work than he, but I trust him. I’m stunned by his humility in acknowledging his limitations, most particularly by his entreaty: “I ask pardon for all my defects.” That such a man would forgo weeks of interviews and accolades from his adoring faithful and instead speak quietly to the Cardinals, proclaiming his weakness and begging their forgiveness–this is the reason the world stands shocked. Not because he resigned, but because even his resignation is not about him. Sr. Mary Theresa of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist put it beautifully: “Pope John Paul II remained in office so that he might show us how to suffer and how to die. Pope Benedict XVI is leaving the Papal Office so that he might show us how to live in humble honesty.”

The Holy Father’s resignation is a great loss to our Church. But it is also a great gift–a gift of humility, of prayer, of discernment. In stepping down, our beloved Pope continues to teach us to live in the Father’s will. I’m glad he’s teaching that lesson. I’m glad he’s living such humility. But most of all, I’m glad he will have some years of peace at the end of his life. The gates of hell will never overcome the Church of Christ; may God bless us with another saint as Vicar.

 

Aggie Catholics has a great piece on why this is a good thing. Fr. James Martin tells us what this teaches us about discernment. Tim O’Malley explains how this lesson in seflessness should change us all. Jimmy Akin‘s first thoughts help clarify the situation. And my dear friend Christina Grace is just mourning the loss.

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About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
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11 Responses to I’m Glad Pope Benedict Is Resigning

  1. I was in a fog this morning, and didn’t hear any of this news until I talked to my mom later. I was in my mommy zone, I guess :) It is nice to hear your perspective on it, and I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Matt says:

    Great post, Meg. And I think you’ll enjoy this video.

  3. I think it is an awesome example of responsibility to say, “I am no longer capable of performing these duties.” I am also excited for my daughter to get to watch the selection of a new Pope and hopefully understand the gravity of it.

    • Meg says:

      I wish I were teaching! If I were, I’d assign each kid a Cardinal and then whoever’s Cardinal gets elected would get dress-down days or something. Get them researching and rooting for them and paying attention to the Conclave!

  4. Patty says:

    Great post, Meg! I feel like all of this is something the universal Church and rally around and pray/sacrifice together during Lent.

  5. Cara says:

    Wow, this is beautifully put. Especially your off-handed, but very astute, observation that JPII gives a Christ-like vibe, while Benedict gives a Heavenly Father one. I’ve felt the same way, though never articulated it that way.

  6. Nancy D. says:

    In this period of Time in History when The Sanctity of Life and The Sanctity of Marriage, is being challenged by those within The Catholic Church who desire to undermine The Deposit of Faith, I find it hard to believe that Pope Benedict XVI would step down in humility, why the wolves remain.

  7. Pingback: Teaching the Conclave | Held By His Pierced HandsHeld By His Pierced Hands

  8. After having a true Saint for our Pope.
    Pope Benedict was a huge disappointment. We tried so hard to love or even like him and failed.
    Now knowing what we do about him we understand why we could not even though we tried so hard.
    He was a corrupt Pope who resigned to save himself and go into retirement in the lap of luxury. His excuse of ill health is a lie as shown by numerous photos of him after he resigned. Pope Benedict is shown walking,active, and happy etc. ,not weak or feeble,or looking ill.
    He did so much harm to The Catholic Church in his 8 years as Pope.
    Never since the middle ages when some Popes were forced to resign due to corruption, have we had such a terrible Pope.
    He said being chosen as Pope was like being sentenced to the guillotine.
    He did not want to be Pope but his pride could not refuse it.
    He should have recused himself and did not.
    We did not want a Pope who wore Prada ,ermine,and gold while people suffered abuse from priests. A Pope who protected the perverts not their victims. A Pope who ignored much evil in the church and only said things should be done about it and did nothing about it himself. All talk and no action.
    The news said now Ex Pope Benedict may be held liable legally now since he now no longer has protection as pontiff from prosecution. He may wish he did not resign but stayed and did some good instead of evil. God will take care of justice for the crimes of the church under Pope Benedict
    Pope John Paul II was our beloved Pope although he really did suffer much pain and ill health he stayed until God called him to heaven.
    We are glad that who we now call Pope Benedict Arnold is gone and we finally in Pope Francis have a Pope we can love. He will need much prayer and help from God to take care of the mess left by Benedict.
    God Bless Pope Francis!!!!!!!!!!!!

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