By Frank Wessling
In the news business, a pope resigning beats a President speaking. The announcement that Pope Benedict XVI would freely leave the Chair of Peter on Feb. 28 pushed the State of the Union address by President Obama off the news lead early last week. The one hadn’t happened in over 600 years; the other is an annual ritual in the halls of Congress.
It was stunning news when we heard what Benedict had done. Does a pope resign? For most older Catholics, especially, it was almost unthinkable. Isn’t the pope the Vicar of Christ on Earth? He looks and sometimes acts like a king, and kings don’t resign. The position is for life.
In one simple move, our current pope punctured the imperial bubble that has surrounded the papacy most of the time for over a millennium. There is a better chance now that the next pope is able to see himself, and be seen, as Servant of the Servants of God, one of the other titles attached to him on assuming office.
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