All about the Pope quitting-A A +A
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
FOR Filipinos, the comparison was inevitably thrown around after reports on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI swept cyberspace. The Pope cited his “advanced age” as the reason for quitting. He is 85 years old. So why won’t old Filipino politicians do the same? Why insist on running or holding on to a post when you can no longer hack it due to “advanced age” (“mapandol na lang sa luwa sa kabayo”)?
It’s like when Lolong, the world’s largest captive saltwater crocodile died Sunday evening in Bunawan town, Agusan del Sur. Lolong had refused to eat for days and had bloated stomach. His illness is still a mystery. But why Lolong died instead of the crocodiles in Philippine government is the question some wags are asking. Why indeed?
Anyway, the resignation of Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) not only provides a model for kapit-tuko Filipino politicians to follow but also gives modern pontiffs an exit option other than death. A cnn.com article, quoting National Catholic Weekly, noted that modern popes feel that “resignation is unacceptable and could encourage factions within the church to pressure pontiffs to step down.”
But the then Cardinal Ratzinger saw what it was like to be Pope in a pontiff’s waning years. He was beside Pope John Paul II as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when the then pontiff was ravaged by Parkinson’s disease and still continued, and naturally struggled, to administer church affairs until his death in 2005. Benedict XVI possibly didn’t want Vatican to go through the same experience again.
It has now turned out that the Pope has been wearing a pacemaker, which was fitted several years ago. A bbc.com report, quoting Il Sole 24, an Italian newspaper, said that the Pope had surgery to replace the pacemaker just under three months ago. His brother, Georg Ratzinger, said that “when he (the Pope) got into the second half of his 80s, he felt that his age was showing and that he was gradually losing the abilities…to fulfill his office properly.”
He isn’t the first pope in history to resign. Rather, he is only the first pontiff to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Benedict XVI’s resignation, though, is not effective immediately but will take effect only at the end of this month.
Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi told CNN there would be a conclave (meeting of the College of Cardinals) next month to elect the next pope. He anticipates that there would be a new pope before Easter (which falls on March 31 this year). In the intervening period, Vatican’s administrative matters would be handled by the camerlengo (chamberlain), Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone (also the Cardinal Secretary of State).
Benedict XVI is expected to spend the rest of his days to “reflection and prayer,” staying in a monastery within the Vatican. Lombardi, in a BBC report, said the Pope won’t intervene in the election of a successor. His resignation would mean he would be known again simply as Cardinal Ratzinger.
Among the favorites to succeed Benedict XVI are Europeans like Angelo Scola and Cristoph Schoenbron. But cardinals from Africa and Latin America could not also be discounted. Interestingly, BBC news included in its list of possible successors--aside from Scola, Schoenbron, Peter Turkson of Ghana, Marc Quellet of Canada, Francis Arinze of Nigeria, Odilo Pedro Sherer of Sao Paolo and Gainfranco Ravasi (President of the Pontifical Council for Culture)--our very own Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2013.