The last time a Pope resigned, Martin Luther hadn’t been born yet and leeches were still a standard form of medical care. Pope Benedict XVI gave his two weeks’ notice today (just weeks after he began twittering!), and the world has erupted into prayers and conversations about who will be next to fill St. Peter’s sandals. I am sure there’s politicking and all sorts of murmured conversations taking place among those filling slots in the upper levels of the church’s org chart in advance of the College of Cardinals meeting to choose the next pope. I am equally sure that millions of devout Catholics around the world are simply praying for God’s will to be done in the matter. I would like to urge the rest of us who are also members of the body of Christ to join them.
If you’re a Protestant who has ever been a part of a pastoral search committee, just multiply that intense and exhausting experience, say, by about a billion and pray for those who will sequester themselves at the Vatican until a plume of white smoke announces a new Pope to the world.
And if you’re a Protestant who shrugs and says, “This doesn’t have anything to do with me since I’m not Catholic”, I’d like to ask you to rethink that position. The Pope may not be your pastor, but he is your brother. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next Pope was a fearless firestarter, an agent of revival in the church? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he was a brave and just shepherd, committed to exposing the sin of those who prey on the weak and vulnerable? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he was willing to move past the pomp and ceremony of his role, sit on the shore of the Sea of Galillee just as Peter had done, simply listen to the voice of God, and then go catch a few fish?
With God, all things are possible. Even these things.
I’m praying for you, future Pope.