“I am disappointed with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI,” said a family friend, “and so are a number of my Catholic friends.” It was just a few days after the surprise announcement of the Pontiff that I chanced upon this individual in a restaurant where my family dined in.
Her disgust was based on a logical premise that in the difficult times of the Catholic Church hounded by sexual misconduct by priests, leaks on confidential information in the Vatican and the dwindling number of Catholics, the Pontiff has retreated into early retirement.
I responded saying that it takes courage and humility to step down from a seat of power. Human nature tends to hang on to positions of authority and influence for as long as possible. To withdraw to a cloistered life of prayer and reflection, away from the limelight, is incomprehensible to the average person. Only the wise and the enlightened are willing to commit to detach to the temporal world to save humanity, to strengthen the Church, to champion the Holy Trinity.
While having a pope to lead the faithful is of utmost importance, I told the friend, that also vital is the people themselves, as each one is a disciple whose sworn purpose in life is to defend the faith, to propagate the Good News and to live the Word. “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
God’s church on earth does not alone depend on the Pope it also draw its strength from us, the people of God. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke of "the Church, the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth.”