I was greeted in the office this morning by our youth minister, Chris. He likes to think he’s funny (and sometimes he is), so I laughed when he told me the Pope had just retired. Yeah, right Chris. But this time he wasn’t kidding.
To say the least, it was an unexpected development. My friend Msgr. Adam Parker, Secretary to Cardinal O’Brien, was there in the room when it happened. He described everyone as stunned while the Pope made his announcement. It was stunning. But, what are we to make of it?
Don’t know really. My first thought is that maybe he went as far as he could go. When I was in Rome in 2011, he was already extremely frail and his activities were significantly reduced. Clearly he felt that any further reduction would compromise the integrity and utility of the office.
Another thought is this: it takes a lot of courage to say you’re done. It takes tremendous integrity to put the office above yourself, and it takes humility like we perhaps have not often seen in history, for a leader to voluntarily walk away from so much power for the good of the organization.
Let’s all keep His Holiness in our prayer this week. And let’s not forget to pray for his successor…whoever he may be.
By the way, did you know that Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote the preface to our upcoming book ?