I woke up to the somewhat surprising news that Pope Benedict, the head of the Catholic Church for just under 8 years..is resigining effective February 28th. Surprising news primarily because he is stepping down during Lent.
I remember following the last papal conclave with my son and being quite surprised at the brevity of a process that has been known to go for many days in modern times...many months in ancient times. Benedict ( Joseph Ratzinger) was elected after only four ballots.
Benedict XVI has ruled the Catholic Church from a much more conservatiive theological view than did Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was second longest serving pope of all time and was therefore much more influential leader of the Catholic Church. He was also very charismatic and although critized by progressives for his tough stands against modern ideals such as contraception and women clergy..Pope John Paull II was able bridge the gap between Catholics and non-catholics and forge relationships with other faiths.
Benedict XVI was never going to be as influential as John Paul II and he himself hinted upon his election that he saw his role as Pope as a temporary...interim one.
It will be interesting the see what kind of leader the next Papal Conclave elects. Will it be someone more conservative , like Benedict? Or will there be a recognition..especially among the younger members..that a leader is needed who will bridge the gap and while working to promote the Catholic Church doctrine..understand that creative ways are necessary that result in more inclusion than exclusion.
I wish Pope Benedict XVI well. I respect him for recognizing that he his no longer able to carry out the duties of the leader of the Catholic Church. I wish more people in leadership positions would display such humility.