I suppose that by now everyone is waking up to the news that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to step down due to his health. According to reports, the 85 year old Pontiff becomes the first to step down since the middle age. It doesn’t take a prophet to see that this poses some grand questions for the future of the Catholic Church, and I may not be what most would consider as being prophetic, but as I look back over the years since the man formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took the place of Pope John Paul II, I should have seen it coming.
I remember back in 2005 when Pope John Paul II died and they were speaking of the person who might possibly replace him. I distinctly recall the talks being of the person who might potentially take over being not so much a permanent replacement, but rather a transitional leader. This lead me to believe, just as it did many who actually are students of prophetic scriptures, that this might simply be the set up for potentially someone who might be a fulfillment of scripture as it relates to end time prophecies. Many were expecting the Anti-Christ or someone to rise up real quickly and the rapture of the church to come even quicker.
Whatever your beliefs are regarding end time prophecies, Pope Benedict XVI has fulfilled his role as a transitional leader. I remember that when people began speaking about him coming in as the new Pope, many people began asking questions of what that meant. The most common explanation that I heard at that time was that it was a person who came in to lead after an initial leader left or died, and the person who comes in either served for a short stint, or was a person who did not rock the boat by making any major changes, or was not perceived to be a true successor to the outgoing leader.
Where you are most likely to see transitional leadership is during moments like when a politician leaves office, an executive leaves a company, or a pastor leaves a church. In some instances, a whole team is a part of the transition process, but ultimately it is the person that fulfills the role as the leader who is considered the transitional leader.
Whether or not the next person who steps into the Papacy is another such transitional leader remains to be seen. We know for a fact that Pope Benedict XVI was much older at the time he took over than the late Pope John Paul II was when he became Pontiff. He also made statements that he had not intended to make any major overhauls to doctrine or structure that would create friction for the Church which was truly feeling the loss of its leader now known as Saint Peter.
As the Catholic Church goes through another season of transition, it will definitely behoove all to pay close attention to what occurs. With all that has gone on in the last eight years, this March will truly mark a new beginning for everyone. How his departure will impact the rest of the Christian community, in America and around the world also remains to be seen. It’s quite interesting to me personally to see this take place right now, as the church that I am attending also is facing a bit of transition. I can only hope and pray that as both are occurring, that each will endure a successful transition period. I expect that it will be full of interesting things worth watching.
QUESTION: What are your observations of this Church in transition?
- First pope since 1415 to resign as leader of Catholic Church… (news.sky.com)
- Pope Benedict XVI to resign; first to do so since 1415 (jacksonville.com)
- BREAKING NEWS: Pope Benedict XVI Resigning (witn.com)
- Philadelphia-Area Catholics React To Resignation Of Pope Benedict XVI (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Pope Benedict XVI resigns (timesleader.com)
- The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI: Is It Health? Or Politics? Or Both? (world.time.com)
- Pope to resign Feb. 28, says he’s too infirm (cnsnews.com)
- N.J. Catholics pray for smooth transition after learning of pope’s resignation (nj.com)
- Pope Benedict XVI delivers Christmas Day message to the world (fox6now.com)