Pope Benedict XVI.

This weeks reading in support of the Holy Father’s call for a year of faith, is unique, in that the man who called for this mission will soon step down as the leader of ur faith. Pope Benedict XVI announcing he will step down from his service to the church. Our Holy Father will resign his post on the 28th of February.

The last Pope to voluntarily resign his function was Pope Gregory XII, who was Pope from 1406 – 1415. During the years 1378 to 1417, the Church experienced what is known in history as the Great Schism. This was a political fight to control the church and in essence, was a fight to determine who was the rightful Pope. This was a battle between Avignon France and Rome. The details are not important for today’s discussion but the crisis experienced then presented a serious threat to the very foundation of our church.

Pope Gregory XII resigned in order to force a new election of a Pope that would include all voting members of the Cardinal Counsel and reunite the Church. He was only the fifth Pope to resign and his resignation rescued the Holy Catholic Church from one of the greatest crisis in its 2000 plus year history.

Today we do not battle to challenge where the true Holy Father sits, or even who he is. His seat is in Rome; in the basilica which marks the spot on which St Peter was martyred; where he refused to be executed in the same manner as Christ, and was crucified upside down.

The question is “do we believe the media that the church is in crisis?” Certainly we can admit that we have PR problems. When someone you know comments about the Catholic Church, they typically use an arsenal of weapons from our history such as: The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, selling of indulgences, or the modern day sexual scandals. How the media has portrayed Pope Benedict and the church is certainly something we should address in our lives and our relationship with the church.

The media gives an inordinate amount of time to the negative, to critics of the church and those who would tell us we are wrong for believing what we believe. They condemn the church in saying the Pope is conservative, that we cannot change, and then tell us that what we need is a Pope of color and that will show the world we are in touch. Papal politics and who will be the next Pope is far beyond the scope of our small parish. We who are brought together, in what for most is a foreign land, to come together and worship in the liturgy and tradition of those before us. We come together with faith and in faith.

We are the modern day descendants of the Second Temple Jewish Sect; later the Christ followers of the Jewish faith; we are the Believers of Christ; the Disciples of God; we are Christian and we are Catholic.

Our Pope, by his resignation has challenged us to examine who we believe; the media or our Holy Father?

We offer some alternate thoughts to the media today for consideration:

The medical condition of our Holy Father is such that he feels he cannot carry the duties of his position. For those of us who do not put every action of the church into a Dan Brown novel, this is a revolution that shows the strength of character of our current Pope.

The duties, the travel, the requirements of the position are demanding, if one is unable to physically handle the stress, the decision to step down is one of courage, one of character and one of hope. If this were a decision by a world leader, or by a senior CEO, the media would be applauding the strength of character and good decision-making. I argue that we should be doing the same right now.

The faith that our Holy Father asked us to renew through mission; is the foundation of our Church. Where are the media when we feed the hungry? When we help to cloth the poor? When we provide education to those who do not have the opportunity or means to educate themselves?

Maybe we don’t face the challenges today that were faced by Gregory XII, but with a new Pope comes change. With change comes friction. Let’s renew our personal faith and pray for our College of Cardinals to elect a Pope that will share our faith and guide our church, know in our hearts that our Christian Acts of Faith and we as members of the church are more important than media commentaries. We in the family know best, not those outside it.

God Bless