I was quite shocked to awake to news that Benedict XVI is resigning from his position as Bishop of Rome to be effective 28 February 2013. He is the first to do so since the 13th Century when Celestine V resigned from office after just a few months in St. Peter’s chair.
No doubt, the rumor mill will start to grind and many elaborate conspiracies constructed to “figure out” just why this Bishop of Rome is resigning at this particular time with this short notice. I will leave the gristmills to do their grinding, and take his resignation at face value. He is tired, aged, and no longer has the capacity to serve as the position requires. He wishes to devote himself to prayer. Benedict XVI seems to have always spoken his mind, so I trust he has spoken true in this case.
I was always surprised with the adulation and joy with which younger Roman Catholics greeted this particular incumbent and embraced his reforms. He seems to have had quite an impact on the next generation of Roman Catholic leadership, both lay and ordained. What does this mean for Anglicans?
It will be interesting to see who the Cardinals will elect in conclave to be Benedict XVI’s successor. I openly suggest that it may be time for a member of the Global South to be elevated to the role. That would prove most interesting.
In any case, it is a good and gracious thing for Anglicans to pray for our Roman brothers and sisters in the midst of this transition. Pray for the conclave, and may the Holy Spirit lead it to a faithful shepherd for the Church of Rome. Pray also for Benedict XVI as he leaves his office and enters retirement.