The courageous decision by Pope Benedict XVI to step down from the See of Peter came as a shock not only to Roman Catholics throughout the world, but to those of other faiths as well. This was mainly because it has been 600 years since a pontiff resigned. The last time it was under duress; this time it is a voluntary act. The 85 year-old Pope celebrated a Mass for Ash Wednesday at the Vatican and held an audience with visitors from different countries. His final public appearance is expected to be in a fortnight’s time on February 27th.
His resignation has been the subject of much comment in the media and has also produced a rash of posts in social media, some of them dispraging but others quite humorous. One of the best ones I noticed was this one showing a picture of a possible (but unlikely!) successor, the Reverend Ian Paisley, who retired from his job as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church in 2008 and from ministry a year ago.There is a saying “all news is local”. But I thought the Birmingham Post headline for their newspaper stands was stretching it a bit. It was noticed and posted on facebook by a former RTÉ colleague, Eugene McVeigh…….
One comment on it was “Pope Brummidictus!!” whereas my own offering was on the lines of “Always find a local angle! Pope has had enough after visiting Lozells, Nechells, Perry Barr, Acock’s Green & Balti land“.
Pope Benedict steps down at the end of the month. The conclave at the Vatican to elect his successor will start as early as March 15th, according to a papal spokesman. This means whoever is chosen by the Cardinals should be in place by Easter.