On the feast of the Chair of St. Peter (Cathedra S. Petri), and surrounded by the buzz about the upcoming resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, I would like to offer a few words on the subject. And what a subject he is!
I am a Catholic of the ‘Benedictine generation’. This is true on a chronological level: I was received into the Church when he had been reigning for three years. It is also true on a personal level: our Pope’s humility, shyness, patristic exegesis and academic clarity greatly appeal to me, as does his concern for the soul and structure of Europe.
So, on the one hand, I am sad that he is leaving. On the other hand, I admire him for it and I am happy for him. Besides, the idea of the quiet Pope, having accepted, fulfilled and renounced his duties all in due time, and now ending his life in monastic peace, reading and praying, should appeal to our religious sense of aesthetics. It reminds me of nothing so much as Bilbo Baggins, who was not destined to carry the Ring to the Fire and ‘the End of All Things’.
It is beautiful to see the precedent of Pope Celestine V thus transposed to the busy 21st century, which, notwithstanding its garrulous streams of commentary, has probably been touched somewhere deep by this unexpected news. (And this style of saying farewell, too, reminds me of Bilbo Baggins.)
I salute His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, with the words of Galadriel:
Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar.
Nai elyë hiruva. Namárië!