Wow. Just, Wow.

I thought I had lived through everything in 1978 when I had three popes in six weeks.

We had a power outage in part of our house last night–wind whipping everything south of the bathroom to an on-and-off flicker. Only the computer, tv, and the sleeping chamber of the young miss were spared.

Speaking of whom, this is the first time my own child woke me up with ecclesiastically shocking news. This can’t be right, I thought. What happened to my clock radio, I though. Well, the BBC confirmed it.

Immediately my thoughts go to the liturgy … How will we pray for a retired pope? Both now before he steps down, during the conclave, and then in his retirement. (Did I hear right that George Weigel calls this an abdication? Man, that is some loaded term. What on earth happened to that guy?)

I don’t just mean the Eucharistic Prayer, but also the petitions people will compose for daily and Sunday Masses.

The timing of this also ensures the anniversary of a pope will remain in the vicinity of Holy Week. That may or may not be a good absorption.

What do you think of B16’s plans to stick close to Rome?

What will the 24-hour internet news cycle make of this conclave? Oh wait, we almost had smartphones and YouTube and Twitter in 2005, didn’t we? How do you generate white smoke from a smartphone?



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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10 Responses to Wow. Just, Wow.

  1. Jen says:

    I kind of feel like I did when I read Tim Thomas’s statement about not playing this year. Lot of things left unsaid and a lot of WTF.

  2. Liam says:

    I heard this news as it broke on CBS after 6am this morning, as I drove down the snow-banked block I live on en route to work. At first I thought I misheard, but I’ve been hoping a pope would model this. Good on B16!

    We don’t pray for a retired pope as a retired pope in the usual places in the liturgy. Until his abdication is effective, he’s still pope. Once his abdication is effective, he’s not pope, and would not be prayed for as if he were. He’s an archbishop (specifically emeritus of Munich-Freising and Rome, as well as his titular sees). (Based on the precedent available, he’s also not a member of the sacred college of cardinals unless re-named to it.)

    As for sticking round in Vatican territory: it makes sense for security reasons (some might add for reasons of retaining effective sovereign immunity, too). It would be a tremendous financial burden and distraction for anyone else to shelter him, and it would be a grandiose and narcissistic gesture of false humility to pretend he could just do that to anyone else….

    The timing of his abdication (renunciation, to be more technical) is most interesting: 8PM, the time for Compline. Nunc dimittis and all that.

    In the end, the gesture is Benedictine of the 6th Century kind: withdrawal for contemplative work and the work of contemplation.

    All the way around, a classy move to be savored and received (in the theological sense) by the faithful.

    The American cultural memory has the example of Washington’s surrender of power after the War of Independence. B16 offers a different exemplar.

  3. crystal says:

    I won’t miss him. Perhaps he’s staying in Rome to keep an eye on his successor?

    • Liam says:

      I really don’t think that’s it. Once you’re not pope, and someone else is, the latter doesn’t have to give a fig.

  4. Anne says:

    ” He’s an archbishop (specifically emeritus of Munich-Freising and Rome, as well as his titular sees). (Based on the precedent available, he’s also not a member of the sacred college of cardinals unless re-named to it.)”

    Really? I was thinking we would return to calling him Cardinal Ratzinger.

  5. crystal says:

    Hmmm – maybe he wants to stay in the Holy See because of immunity from any prosecution?

    • John Drake says:

      And maybe you are being uncharitable. He did more to deal with various messes (including the one to which you obliquely refer) than most others have. .

      • Todd says:

        I agree with John’s sense here. Pope Benedict is a man of his age, and perhaps, as a bishop, didn’t stand out from the rest. I give him credit for changing. He didn’t change as much as some people, like Milwaukee’s Fr Connell. And his behavior wasn’t criminal like other bishops. And he was late in calling out errant bishops.

        I do think his successor will need to have a lily white record on the cover-up scandal. The college of cardinals, if they have the best interests of the Gospel at heart, will need to ensure every candidate is hyper-vetted on that point. Electing a pope with a scandal in his closet would be a catastrophe.

  6. crystal says:

    What made me think of that was an interview I recently read at The Nation with film-maker Alex Gibney ….

  7. Mary says:

    “Abdication” may be a loaded term, but it’s on the money as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t understand just how feudal the church was until I moved to Europe, and met people who quite genuinely think of bishops as “princes of the church”. Seems to me that the rest of the world needs to get to grips with this understanding (not get it, just know that it’s there) if we’re to have the reform the church desperately needs.

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