A Healthy Decision: Papal Resignation / Retirement
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 • 7:30pm
Pope Benedict's first formal letter (encyclical) was sent out to the Church in 2005, the first year of his pontificate. That well received letter "Deus Caritas Est" or “God Is Love,” holds the Golden Key in 2013 to the Holy Father's shocking, history making decision.
Obvious to all, stress has expedited the aging process for Benedict. Only the pope knows personally the daily rigors and pressures of the office. The words of "God Is Love" give us a healthy framework to interpret his healthy decision in a hyper-opinionated world, where Facebook and Twitter lead the way. When all the words of ordinary folks and experts have been forgotten, these remain true, “For this reason, I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others." Benedict’s decision is healthy based on his own personal experience of God's lavish love.
Papal power admitting to physical weakness and frailty is a transparent sign of God's lavish love transforming the pope. Letting go and talking frankly about one's ailments is humbling for anyone. The pope's healthy decision places him squarely with all of humanity facing life-changing decisions due to aging and illness. The Pope has asked only for our prayers as he prepares for transition.
Benedict is living out his own words, “Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well." The pope's ministry is all about encountering people in Christ's name every day.
The Successor of Peter is charged with maintaining unity within the Church and promoting world unity. Sensitive to his own limitations, Benedict's loving decision recognizes that fresh energy, at this time in history, must be infused in Church and world issues. Only a man who has gone through his own "formation of the heart" would be willing to step into the community of retirees.
Thus, the best argument for the papal decision is not a matter of canon law or papal history, it’s Benedict’s wisdom, “Consequently, the best defense of God and man consists precisely in love."
I wish to defend the pope's decision as a healthy one and a model for all people of good will. It is the firm belief of our Church; the Holy Spirit will prevail in all human experiences. Our future is in God's love. Benedict began his pontificate knowing that spiritual fact; he ends with acting upon that fact in tribute to Christ, the Teacher of Love.
Praying for the Pope, Fr. Anthony
Father Anthony Randazzo is the Pastor at Notre Dame Church, North Caldwell.
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