Because of course it is the thing about which we are all thinking and praying, here are some of my initial thoughts:
1. First, a caveat--Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope, and as such, neither I nor any member of the faithful may judge him. By this I mean not only that kind of judgement which we should avoid making against anyone, but more specifically, it is not within the province of any person to judge the Pope. He is accountable only to God. We may be able to state our opinions, based on our understanding of things, but only in a relative way. Even then, such opinions are not often helpful. I have read theories in certain places, based on the writings of St. Robert Bellarmine and other saints, that perhaps the Pope could be called to an accounting by the entire college of Cardinals, in a formal procedure. Whatever the case, that ain't us.
2. That being said, I was shocked like most of you at the news. It is one thing to resign as an architect at a large construction firm, or even to resign as the CEO of Microsoft, but it is another to stop being the Pope. It's as if I could tell my children one evening that I was no longer their father. It felt like the proverbial gut punch, as others have written. I have long felt that Something Big is set to happen, and this feels like it is the felling of a Great Wall of Defense against that Something. But of course we have to wait and see, and refrain from silly predictions. The photo above-- lightning hitting St. Peter's hours after the announcement-- sure seems ominous, though.
3. Resign? No. A king abdicates. And the pope is the Vicar of the King of Kings. He is the Supreme Pontiff. It may seem picky, but words mean things, and I think it's important to refer to this as it is in reality. Christ is King, not any earthly leader. He is Saviour, not any earthly cabal. Our King's Regent is retiring from the field, and the battle is hot. We are very hard pressed. We need a champion to take his place.
4. Feel free to ignore any list of papabile, and the odds therefor. Hearing secular media talking heads give odds makes me laugh. It was highly improbable that Cardinal Ratzinger was to appear on that balcony in 2005, but he did. According to this logic, that makes Cardinal Burke a lead-pipe cinch as next Pope. Why? Because his election is impossible, as the world reckons it. But whether Cardinal Burke or anyone else is tabbed, we must have faith, and remember that the Holy Ghost is in charge. Because if one of the oft-suggested of the papabile named in the press were to be elected, I might just puke.
5. The Holy Father and the next Holy Father need our prayers. The Church needs prayers. Pray for everything you already know needs praying for, but also for clarity. Clarity. That we know who the Pope is when the time comes. With Il Duce announcing a new "cyber security" executive order in advance of a
6. We need Mary to help us. We need her, the Mediatrix of All Graces. She alone can help us. Fatima has yet to play out. Pope Benedict, for all the good he did, is the seventh straight Pope who has failed to consecrate Russia to Mary's Immaculate Heart as she instructed at Fatima. It must be done. Mary said it would be, though it would be late, and that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph. I pray that this triumph need not wait until the very End. If only Pope Benedict would do this before the end of the month...
7. Will it be the next Pope, as some have long predicted? Will the next Pope be the Petrus Romanus of the St. Malachy prophesy? Will the next Pope be the one to restore the traditional Mass as the normative Mass of the Roman Rite? The Church is on her way to recovery when-- and only when-- this happens. Don't think so? Sorry.
8. I don't know what the future holds for the Rome-SSPX situation, but I doubt anyone feels good about it right now.
9. The Church needs courageous leadership to stand up to the Soeteros of this world-- to the "anti-" or "Anti-" Christs, that will present themselves over time. True. But we need courageous Catholics, full stop. Let us not be unmanned. Our ancestors in the faith went willingly, even cheerfully, to their deaths to witness for the God Who sent His only Son to an ignominious death to save us. Let us love Him, and follow Him to Calvary. Thus it will be that we will then merit to praise Him forever in Heaven, our true homeland.
10. Finally, I cannot end this post without expressing my own gratitude to God for Pope Benedict-- regardless of the merits or failures of his reign in other areas, he issued Summorum Pontificum, acknowledging the right of priests to offer, and the right of the faithful to hear, the traditional Mass. If he had done nothing else, he would deserve our everlasting thanks. I refuse to dwell on the missed opportunities today-- it is not fitting, on this day, for one thing. And also, recall point number one, above.
May God have mercy on His Church, His Vicar, and this guilty world.
Mary, Mother of the Church, Our Lady of Fatima, and Help of Christians, pray for us!
St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!
St. Peter, pray for us!
St. Benedict, pray for us!
St. Raymond Nonnatus, pray for us!