Pope Benedict XVI bows out gracefully
The Kansas City Star
Say this for Pope Benedict XVI, he understands the value of a graceful exit.
Benedict obviously could have his job for life. But he apparently discerns that his post isn’t about him, or any single person. It’s about leading the world’s Catholics.
As a part of his announcement today, he said:
“In today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
There is an art to bowing out that too many high-profile people don’t grasp. Once-fleet athletes limp through their final seasons on bad knees. Legendary coaches put their legends at risk; exhibit A being Penn State’s Joe Paterno. Politicians, judges and, yes, journalists are others who sometimes have difficulty giving up the limelight.
In his statement, Benedict articulates what I hear a lot from people in many difference professions. Technology and social media constantly force us to learn new skills and techniques. It can be darned hard to keep up. I recently talked to a pastor (not Catholic) who said he is retiring earlier than expected rather than attempt to master the ever-broadening set of skills needed to do his job well.
So good for the pope for demonstrating the art of bowing out gracefully. And consider him fortunate. He’s financially set for life and will have the best health care available to him.