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Faith, pope and love

Carter Boyd | Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I awoke Feb. 11 with several exams and tests later that week. I shared the same sense of shock many of us felt in hearing Pope Benedict XVI had announced his resignation from the papacy. The first thought that came to my mind was that this must have been some kind of joke. I then checked several other news sites confirming the information that I had just read. After receiving validation from multiple sites, my second thought was, “He can’t resign. That has to be illegal.”     
After stepping back and realizing the ability of a pope to resign is not a matter of legality, I was still troubled by the pope’s announcement. I can’t help but think of the causations and implications of such a move. While I do not have all the questions answered in my own head of the pope’s resignation, I hope to shed some light on his humbling and difficult decision to step down from his role.
From my brief research on the resignation, it is evident that Pope Benedict’s announcement hinted that he has had some kind of health complications. This is the prevalent belief of most observers of the recent announcement, and seems to be a plausible and likely cause considering his mid-80s age.  Many people I have talked to believe that the pope stepping down due to poor health is a wise and humbling decision for the pope to make. These peers of mine reason that since Pope Benedict XVI has prayerfully discerned he will not be able to lead the Church as it needs to be led, then his resignation is admirable. My question is why no other popes have done this. In recent history, all of our popes have died serving God as leader of the Church. These popes were not young, healthy men at the time of their deaths, but instead suffered from failing health leading up to their deaths. While I know the pope must be undergoing immense suffering, I am concerned that his decision might be confusing to many of us.  There are many people throughout the world that suffer amid the jobs, roles and vocations God has placed them in. Are we all at times of hurt, pain, suffering, declining health, or times where we lose the vigor and ability we once had supposed to step down, to give up? 
I think not. I think we are supposed to have the faith, the hope and the love for our benevolent and merciful God to turn to his son Jesus Christ, to his suffering and his teachings, and to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in our lives. We should use our pain and suffering, whether it be emotional pain, physical pain, the loss of a loved one or a perpetual ailment, to draw us closer to God and the suffering Jesus went through on the road to Calvary. While easier said than done, this is what I wanted my pope to have announced Feb. 11.
 I wanted him to tell the world that he knows his health is dwindling, that he knows he has lost the strength he once has and that his abilities have been weakened.
 I wanted him to tell the world that he has the immense faith to turn to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to ask for their support, knowing that his inabilities, that his weaknesses, that his declining health will be transformed into ability, strength and a renewed vigor to serve as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church for the rest of the time he has left here on earth.
Yet, I also realize that I cannot make that judgement or second guess our most humble Pope Benedict, who undoubtedly has been in deep prayer and discernment regarding this decision.
I know that Pope Benedict, as hard as it is for me to understand, did pray to our heavenly Father, who is guiding him during this perplexing time not only for our pope but for our Catholic Church.  As others have pointed out to me in my struggle with his decision, God may bring in the next pope just at the right time. God may have a plan far beyond the eyes of what we can see, and I strongly believe that He does.
I do pray for our pope, for our Church leaders and the Catholic Church through this transitional period, that we will remain rooted and united in our faith as we move forward as the Body of Christ. May this humbling act of faith from Pope Benedict be a catalyst for all of us to becoming stronger in our faith, steadfast in our love and unwavering in our hope.
Carter Boyd is a freshman studying science-business. He can be reached at
[email protected]
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.