This morning we heard something that Catholics haven't heard for about 600 years--the Pope is resigning. I was shocked. But then the thought came to me that certainly he would only do this after a very careful discernment. And of course there's much that we don't know. Is he suffering from an undisclosed disease, perhaps one that may affect his cognitive abilities? We don't know at this point. But there are a few points to note.
1. The Pope is doing God's will. Benedict has been Pope for almost 8 years, and in that time he has given us some wonderful gifts. This includes the Year of Faith we are now living.
2. Benedict is willing to give up power and prestige when God no longer wants him to exercise those things. The point of the papacy is not power, of course, but the pope certainly has a lot of power in the Catholic world. He has a moral prestige too, one that millions of people look to for guidance. And Benedict is willing to give it all up when he believes that God wants him to do so. What a wonderful example that is.
3. New times call for bold moves. Benedict evidently doesn't put much stock in the argument, "We never did that before." After all, it's been 600 years since a Pope has resigned! The world is changing in unprecedented ways. Whatever the future may bring, the Pope has to lead the Church in meeting the challenges of life today with the light of Christ. The Pope is at the forefront of the new evangelization. In handing over the torch to someone who can carry it now, Benedict is teaching us to recognize when we have completed our mission, and to have faith that God will always raise up in the Church new apostles who will pick up where we leave off.