As we have known for a while now, Pope Benedict XVI has resigned. Resigned. From being Pope. Those words just sound very strange put in a sentence, don’t you think? He is the first Pope to resign in 6 centuries. This is quite a lengthy amount of time. His reasoning for this decision is that he no longer possesses the adequate strength to perform his duties. My question – what duties are these exactly? There is definitely nothing physically strenuous that is tiring him out. It is not as if he must ever perform any manual labour of any kind.
The Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church (1.2 billion Catholics) and sure, he must fill many roles in performing this job, such as holding mass, national and international administration in the United Nations Council, international committees, charitable organizations and more. He also prays. A lot. None of the abovementioned tasks require an abnormal amount of effort. So I wonder, then, why he would feel the need to resign? There are Popes that have lived to be much, MUCH older than him, and they never complained or gave up before their job was finished.
In the same breath, I also feel a bit bad for the old fellow, and suspect something else is going on with Mr. Benedict. He has been looking abnormally tired lately, and maybe there is some health issue we are not aware of– perhaps we never will be. We must remember that he also took a tumble (literally) last March during a trip to Mexico. His doctors stated, “He is less well than he appears”.
The hierarchy of becoming a Pope is no easy task. One starts out as a simple deacon, studying for Priesthood, then moving on to achieving the position of Priest of a local Church. He then moves onto Bishop, a Priest of sacred worship. Following this is the Archbishop, then Cardinal, then Pope (And I am not even mentioning the many sub-positions in-between)
This is quite a ladder to climb, and once you have reached the top of the mightiest ladder in the religious world, wouldn’t you want to hang on to that top rung for a while? (as in until you, ahem, bite the dust) I always thought the point of the pope was to be a leader, and to not give up and quit. We are all used to the pope dying, the bell being rung, and the smoke coming out of the chimney. (A lot of you will think of the movie Eurotrip there, but yes, that was based on fact) So Now what? It’s a bit out of routine, and I think everyone is feeling a bit awkward about the whole thing. Where to from here? This is definitely something for the history books.
My main question, though - what is the pope going to get up to now? Where do you go after filling such a mighty role? He can’t exactly go up any further, so clearly he is gonna slip down a little bit. What is he going to do? Hang around and watch TV? Sit in his home and pray? Become an Inn Keeper? Maybe he’ll get addicted to Pinterest, Facebook or twitter, like the rest of us who are not, erm, Pope.
There will always be unanswered questions. We may never truly know what led the Pope to resign. Maybe we should just let the old man be. I for one am going to be very curious as to where Pope Benedict XVI is headed. I’ll be sure to follow him on Twitter once he has time to get his account going (And figures out how to use it – you never know, he might just be a social networking pro at heart) Is there life after being a Pope? There is only one way to find out. What do you think the Pope is going to get up to with all that free time on his hands? Be sure to let me know your thoughts!