Television reports have explained that until Pope Benedict announced his resignation last week, there had not been a papal resignation in 600 to 700 years. One must wonder what took so long? In America, where supreme court judges are appointed for life long terms, it is the resignation of justices that most often offers presidents an opportunity to appoint a new justice. Few die in office.
Not so, however, the bishop of Rome. To die in office is the norm, and I have been around for the passing of several popes in my nearly 6o years on this planet.
Pundits blovating without basis about who the next pope will be often reflect personal preferences and values. Depending on whom one hears, pundits offer that the college of cardinals should consider: response to the frequent reports of child abuse by parish priests, elevation of women to the priesthood, ending the Roman tradition of celibacy for clergy, and elevation of a non-European to head the church. Unfamiliar with Catholic concerns, rather than offering wishful thinking about what the Vatican may do or not, or who cardinals may select, here are my hopes for what a new pope might accomplish.
Formalizing relations with Israel.
Jews have waited a millenium for the Church to apologize for attrocities it led during the Crusades?
Reparations for victims of the Inquisitions's persecution of Jews during the fifteenth century.
While there was limited effort by some of the Church leadership to save Jews during the Holocaust, by and large Pope Pius was complicit with the Nazis. Is it not time for a new pope to do something about that?
Rumor has it that many of the Jewish treasures stolen by Roman troops when the Second Temple was sacked in 70CE are now stored under the Vatican. Perhaps it is time for them to be restored to Jerusalem.
As for Pope Benedict, Congratulation to him for making what must have been a very difficult decision. It is difficult at best to recognize when one is too old to do one’s task. Heck, Moses did not want to give up his job, and he was 120 years old when God told him that it was time to move on. When Moses retired, he died. That can not be what is expected of the pope. One can only wonder what Catholics will do with a pope emeritus.