We rang in the one-month anniversary of our arrival to the Eternal City with some truly shocking and historic news which is already old and promises to be seriously over-reported, (so let’s add another voice to the clamor): the abdication of the papacy by Pope Benedict XVI. He is the first pope to resign the papacy in nearly 600 years, so it’s kind of a Big Deal. Which explains why we can’t walk across St. Peter’s Square this week without being accosted by photographers or reporters, and why Joey has probably been snapped 200 times by various paparazzi (isn’t the term so fitting right now?) as he runs around waving a little Vatican flag we bought for him, yelling ‘I love you Papa!’
It feels both surreal and sad to be preparing to say goodbye to our Holy Father, a man whose papacy marked my return to the Faith and to the Church of my childhood, and whose gentle countenance and soft, German accented voice has become as familiar as that of my own father’s. John Paul II’s death called me home to the Catholic Church, but it was Pope Benedict who held the door open and welcomed me inside.
We’ve talked about it as a family these past couple days, what it means to be living in Rome right now, what it means for the Church, what it must feel like to be in Papa’s shoes right now…there are so many questions. We don’t have many answers, but I want to share with you, via Facebook and the blog, whatever we can over these next several weeks.
One thing is certain: He loves us, and the One he serves loves us, and we will not be abandoned or left orphans. Pope Benedict has a servant’s heart, and the wisdom and love of a father, so it makes sense that, in recognizing he can no longer adequately care for his flock, can no longer provide for his family, he would make the heroically difficult decision to step aside to let someone take his place.
We, as the Church, now have the unique privilege to say thank you and goodbye to our Holy Father while he is still with us on earth. What a gift. What a weird situation. What do we wear for this?
I’ll keep you all posted, promise, whether you like it or not.