When I express that this wasn’t the morning I was expecting to have when I went to sleep last night, I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that everyone can say that — even the Vatican Press secretary. Since this is a holiday in the Vatican, Father Lombardi had to go turn on his own microphone before the conference. This was not a foreseen event.
And while this news isn’t about me, this blog is, so I’m going to share my thoughts and feelings and worries.
I just finished teaching 2000 years of Church history a few months ago. (My students immediately began emailing me this morning.) I should be the first to point out that this Church has weathered many storms and has witnessed many crazy things- this being the least of them, really. I mean, there was a time in the Church so dark that a Pope ordered the exhumation of the body of another Pope so his corpse could be put on trial.
It only takes a quick reading of a few key moments in our history to realize that we’re living in some pretty sunny days.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still in a fog, have no appetite, and would like to go back to bed and pretend this didn’t happen.
It’s not that I don’t have faith in Christ’s promise. I will be with you always. … You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build My Church. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
I know all those things.
I also know that the Pope is an office. Which means succession. Pope Benedict is a Pope. There has been 265 Popes, and they’ll be a 266th.
Less than a month ago, I addressed the Nashville Diocesan of Catholic Women on Pope Benedict– my experience at his election, his life before his papacy, and what his papacy has meant to the Church. I spoke about our feelings in the square at JPII’s funeral. No one could replace the only Pope we had ever known. John Paul II wasn’t just a Pope to us. He was THE Pope.
And now I have those feelings all over again. Except Benedict hasn’t died. There’s no funeral. And so the world isn’t grieving.
But I am. I have written again and again about how much Pope Benedict feels like a friend to me. And now this friend has made an announcement I can’t wrap my mind around. Intellectually, I can understand it. But my heart is breaking.
And yet if I say I’m grieving, I get chastised for not believing the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church. I get looked at funny because I’m “too attached” to this man.
And so I try to go about my day like everyone else, as if the world hadn’t turned upside down with that text message that woke me up this morning.