Monday, 11 February 2013
The Deathbed of a Pontificate
When we receive the stunning news that a person whom we do not know personally, but who is very important to us, has died or has only a short time to live, the sense of personal shock, distress and lowered spirits is surprisingly similar to the more intense sorrow of actual or approaching personal bereavement. A somewhat paler version, but of the same type.
In the case of dear Pope Benedict's declaration of abdication, at least he himself will continue his earthly life, with whatever degree of frailty. The Church will be spared the machinations of the last years of Pope John Paul II's reign. On the other hand, who knows what great and valiant things might have been achieved by our present Pope, if he had decided to soldier on for a little longer. We will never know. We are where we are, and we move on from here.
Still, it feels like an approaching death. And of course it is: the death of a Pontificate. A momentous thing.