Vacancy at the Vatican

Dear Hildegard,

A+lightning+strikes+St+Peter's+dome+at+the+Vatican+on+February+11I am sure you would have something to say about B16 resigning. You certainly weren’t shy about coming forward with you advice to the Bishop of Rome in your day.  I am pretty confident you would be pleased that B16 had enough presence of mind to call it a day and make way for the next generation; I also think you would be willing to concede that if he didn’t feel up to the job anymore he was entitled to a rest; and maybe you might have thought your prayers were being answered.

Now there is a vacancy at the Vatican and the job description is well known. The signs of the times are less clear, for many it is the Dark Ages. The sex scandals and conservatism of Rome have left many of the faithful finding their homes outside of the Roman church. The divisions may not be able to be healed in this generation or the next.  Listening and watching to the social media is both entertaining and disturbing in equal measure. This is a time of great vulnerability and in a way B16 has modelled what it means to be vulnerable by saying “I’m not up to the job” and courageous stepping down. The mark of this papacy will be this resignation – B16 has set a precedent and in doing so is able to make the path easier for the next person – and that is the mark of a leader.  I can’t believe I am saying that as I have been no fan of the person I generally refer to as “the German Shepherd” – but I do feel the need to give credit where credit is due.  The cynic in me says he resignation must be for political reasons and the coverups of pedophilia may just be waiting in the wings and B16 might have been held to account like any CEO for the sinfulness of his brother priests.  We will wait and see on that front.  I hope I am wrong.

What does this act tells us about what it means to vacate something that you love?  I can only imagine that B16 made this decision as a result of his own prayer and discernment, and made it in consolation. I wonder who his spiritual director is and what piece of scripture he mediated on to come to this decision?  Having been someone who has just left a job they loved and not able to retreat into retirement to write and research as B16 will do; I am intrigued about the process he would have employed to get to this historic decision.  The relationship between this personal act and the political consequences also fascinate me. As a feminist I hold the belief that the personal is political and when I filter B16’s actions with this principle I come to a few conclusions:

– resigning is one way of leaving a job and sending a message to your peers and community

– saying enough is enough is an act of vulnerability and courage

– when you take the action to withdraw your labour it may be the only action you can take as all other avenues have been exhausted

There is a part of me that wonders if the corruption and puppetry that even B16 was subjected to, meant he could no longer hold his own integrity in place …. could that be possible?

Whatever the reasons, it is truly between himself and his God.  Having resigned from a job not so long ago I know that the reasons are often complex and multi-layered and sometimes you just have to get home.  Dorothy was able to click her heels to get back to Kansas – but if you’re the Pope resignation is preferable to going out boots first.

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