This morning we learned that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to resign as the leader of the Catholic Church the end of this month. According to news reports, the pope has cited health reasons for his decision that many find shocking to say the least. He said his strengths of both mind and body have “deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
The 85-year-old pope will become the first one to resign from the office in almost 600 years. Listening to several news reports, I get the impression that some people have serious objections to the pontiff breaking this long and revered tradition of serving ‘til the end. But just because the Church has done something almost forever does not make it right.I remember a local pastor of a small congregation who became very ill some years ago. Some of the congregants were of the opinion he should resign as the church’s pastor because he was no longer physically able to properly serve the church. I went to his home to see him a number of times, and I can tell you he was in no shape to continue as pastor but he refused to give up the office. The bottom line is that the congregation was the real loser in the process as the membership dwindled to a few people.
I am saying that I find it commendable that Pope Benedict XVI came to the realization that he lacked the physical and mental strength to continue serving the more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide. I certainly don’t agree with the idea that a pope should remain in office until death merely for the sake of loyalty to a tradition.The beauty in serving the Lord is that there is always work in His vineyard for us to do, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in. Resigning from the papacy does not mean life is over for Pope Benedict XVI. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). There will never be a shortage of relevant work to do for any of God’s children.
The pope’s decision was not an easy one, I don’t believe. I am sure it was preceded by much prayer and introspection. And although some followers may not agree with his decision, there’s nothing unusual about an 85-year-old man having to realize that time has brought on changes that challenge his capacity to properly perform his job. Even the pope is no exception to this reality.Copyright © 2013 by Frank King. All rights reserved.