Pope Benedict’s Retirement: Oakville’s Catholic Response

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PopeWhy did Pope Benedict XVI retire? Who will be elected the new pope? What should the new pope do? There has been and will continue to be much curiosity and interest in the political dimension of this event.

But, for each Catholic, this must be more than some interesting political event happening over at the Vatican. It needs to be seen in the light of faith. For it is also a wonderful opportunity for the whole church to stop and reflect deeply. It is not enough for us to sit back and wait for some new pope to be a saviour. It is not enough to wait for a new pope to do something. Pope Benedict’s decision to retire coincides with the Season of Lent, when all Catholics are called to repentance and to a deeper conversion.

VaticanThe Catholic Church is a world-wide church, engaged in dialogue with other Christian communities, with all the nations of the earth, with other religions, with the scientific community, with atheists, and so on. Thus, the Catholic Church has an important mission within the modern world. We are called to that common mission of being the church in the world today. To be a church that proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ. To be a church that reflects the mercy and compassion of God. To be a church that is an instrument of unity and reconciliation in a world so full of division and hurt.

The new pope will obviously be very important to this mission. But, each of us as Catholics must begin by looking within. Perhaps the most important question at this time is not who will be the next pope or what will the new pope do. The most important question is directed to ourselves. How am I called to be faithful to the Gospel by being an instrument of mercy, of compassion, of reconciliation in my own life and local community?

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