Well, there we were, all wending our way through life, when Pope Benedict suddenly dropped a bombshell. When I heard the news I'm afraid my first thoughts were back to my Canon Law studies in the 80s (how sad is that?), when the obscure canon (law) was dismissed with a flick of the hand "Well, that would just cause too many problems..." The offending rule in the Book of Rules states "Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone." (c.332/2 Code of Canon Law 1983).
Nevertheless, here we are. On Thursday evening Joseph Ratzinger will cease to be Bishop of Rome, and therefore Pope. And so we enter relatively uncharted waters... Their eminences will gather and eventually enter conclave (Latin = "with a key") and stay there until they have it in the bag. and the white smoke can float out into the Roman air.
Many people have as it were sympathised with him - he is 85, after all, and it has caused some of us to ponder how difficult it must have been for him to assume the mantle at 78 in the first place...
Their Eminences now have a task which can truly be called awesome. Will they look to Africa, perhaps to Cardinal Turkson from Ghana, or maybe to North America, to Canada's Cardinal Ouellet (one of Fr M's Tips), or will they kick for papal touch and go back to Italy, perhaps to Cardinal Scola of Milan. The Pope is Bishop of Rome, don't forget. Maybe they will be a little more adventurous and go Filipino and younger - to Cardinal Tagle of Manila? In a word, who knows... It just amazes me that the whole thing is hoped to be concluded in time for the Holy Week liturgy, from resignation to installation in about six weeks... For a church which thinks in centuries, we can sure move when we want to! I hope they don't pick the one in this photo... (but PS see comment below!)
Let us pray for Benedict, for the cardinals and for "X"!
PPS When i Googled "cardinals" the first image of their Eminences was only after 240 pics of birds and American sportsmen... good for their humility!