Papal Resignation? After example of JPII? Hard to imagine.

The Italians love their sensationalism. Especially in journalism, where what is reported may or may not have a basis in anything beyond the journalist’s imagination.

I mean, come now: reality is something to be shaped through innuendo and suggestion rather than observed and recounted dispassionately, no? Isn’t that the modus operandi of “unnamed sources,” and “insiders,” and other real or imagined authorities cited in bombshell articles?

So we have a report in an Italian newspaper that Benedict XVI is thinking of retiring next April. Yawn.

Maybe it’s true, but most likely it’s a wished-for reality being peddled to sell copies and drive traffic to the Web site.

Besides, though Cardinal Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II to let him leave Rome multiple times, Ratzinger is no longer just a cardinal theologian who could choose to go back to the university—he is now Peter. And he observed first hand the way in which his predecessor went to his cross, with full faith in God’s providence.

The article responding to the suggestion of retirement talk talks a lot about Benedict’s health and energy, etc. But that’s entirely unnecessary. The pope isn’t there to be a globe-trotting media personality who can only serve effectively as long as he is suitable for the camera. The pope is there simply to be there. The pope is the point and measure of Christian unity regardless of his health or vigor.

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger did write about the possibility of a papal resignation, but again, that was as Cardinal Ratzinger, speculating about the possibilities. No one presently living but he himself has any notion what impact becoming Peter has had upon his thoughts of the efficacy or practicality of papal resignation, but if the manner in which he accepted the office is any indication, coupled with his experience of the great blessing the suffering of Blessed John Paul II’s final months were for the Church, I cannot believe he is presently considering casting aside the work God has given him as pope.

I could be wrong and he may be considering it (my God, I pray I’m right and he is sticking around!). But at least I’m not being sensationalistic.



  • Jason

    Pope Benedict, as Pope, has spoken about a pope resigning. In Light of the World, he told Peter Seewald a pontiff could resign if he “clearly realizes he is no longer physically or psychologically and spiritually capable.”

  • Madonna

    Have we ever had a Pope retire? I thought they were there until they died. I hope that he doesn’t. I really like him. We do need him also.

    • Panda Rosa

      Centuries ago some Popes did retire, for various reasons, but not so in the last couple centuries.
      God grants us a longer lifespan for a reason, just not one always apparent.
      That said, let the Holy Father take his time in what he has to do.

      • Tom Crowe

        Can we just pause for a moment and recognize how cool it is that we are able to say “centuries ago some Popes did retire…” and have that be a relevant statement? Think about it: no other position on earth is as ancient or continuously relevant as the papacy. With no other position that is or resembles a monarch (with the certain caveat that the pope is no monarch) is there really a question of whether the precedents from centuries prior have any meaning today… Maybe it’s me, but I just think that’s an awesome feature of Catholicism. History rolls along: the Church remains, immovable.



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