Contemplating Pope Benedict XVI’s decision-making impresses on me the enormity of what he must have gone through in considering resignation. While papal resignation wouldn’t be a precedent, it was, after all, something which last occurred between the lives of Geoffrey Chaucer and Christopher Columbus.1
None of us can presume to know how he thought and prayed about the possibility of resigning. However, it’s safe to assume that he was more concerned about doing the right thing in the eyes of God than he was with the history he might be making.
As I was catching up on some reading yesterday, the day of his announcement; I came across the article covering Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, whose resignation had been accepted on December 19. He had been the Chaldean patriarch since December 3, 2003 and had been made a cardinal by Pope Benedict in November 2007. It also said, “The 85-year old resigned for age and health reasons, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported.”2
I can’t help wondering, slightly wistfully, did the mere request of the patriarch or did something he may have said in his resignation request have an impact on the Pope’s discernment? That the patriarch was also born in 1927 and had the courage to make the same difficult decision might have caught the attention of the Pope in a special way.
Maybe he’ll tell us someday. Either way, I’m confident that his decision is in concert with God’s Will for him and the Church!
1 – Wikipedia
2 – National Catholic Register, 1/13/2013