Pope Benedict XVI has taken the ultimate step in humility and has decided to resign, because he felt the duties of the Petrine Ministry were too important to continue in a diminished state. I have no doubt that this will be the wave of the future for successive popes. Our previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II soldiered on to help the show the world that disability was no disgrace. However, Pope Benedict XVI must have felt that since that example was already shown to us, he would chart a different path.
The humility of the Holy Father was first seen when then Father Josef Ratzinger had his sister listen to his homilies and his college seminary lectures for he did not want to go over the heads of his parishioners and seminary students. The Holy Father was somewhat of a prodigy as a child. Though he liked to play soccer with the rest of the boys in Traunstein, a small town in Bavaria, he realized he would never become a great athlete, so he throw himself into his studies and into the History and workings of religion in general and Catholicism in particular.
During the eight years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI reached out to everyone, the poor, the marginalized, the wealthy and creative, those of other faiths, schismatic Catholics as well as those whose world views were totally different than his. However, the man from Bavaria never compromised on the issue of truth; he railed against the Dictatorship of Relativism and against the idea of social engineering which seems to have engulfed the Western world.
The Holy Father reached out to the young via social media and World Youth Day. He became the first pope to have a twitter account, but he also reminded us to embrace the glories of our rich faith by emphasizing traditional Catholic devotions and his love of the Latin Mass. He reached out to other faiths even starting an Anglican Ordinate, for those in the worldwide Anglican Communion who felt abandoned by their Church’s embrace of ideas they felt ran counter to the Gospel.
The last Pope to resign was Celestine V in 1294, there was no modern media to tell the world within minutes of his announcement, there wasn’t even a printing press, it was simply passed down by word of mouth and handwritten parchment. What a different world we live in today, though the truths that guide our world have no changed since man first understood God’s revelation.
In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I delve into the fact that our modern day secular pundits try to tell us how to live, to change, to become of the world, which Jesus so warned us against. We are to be in the world, not of the world. In an interview with CatholicTV, I made the point that because of this our Catholic faith has grown the most when we ran counter to whims of the world.
Vocations which began to grow in the latter half of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II continued during the eight years of Pope Benedict XVI. Young men becoming priests now are far more likely to celebrate their first Mass in Latin, and young women who become nuns are far more likely to wear habits, precisely because they love traditions of the Church, which was emphasized by the Holy Father. The mainstream media could never wrap their arms around the fact that vocations are on the rise. They repeated over and over again that vocations are half of what they were in the 1950s, but failed to mention that Catholic family size is half of what is was in the 1950s.
The Holy Spirit will guide those who select the next Pope, man can be wrong, and certainly we have had corrupt popes, but the Holy Spirit is never wrong. If the man chosen listens to the Holy Spirit, and if we pray hard enough to help, the Church will continue to grow and save souls, something it has been doing ever since Jesus made Peter the first Pope.