PAPA – ii


I WAS RATHER TOUCHED, a day or two ago, to read of a mid-August report, from the Zenit News Agency in Rome, about an unnamed visitor to Pope Emeritus Benedict in his new seclusion and home:

“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy because “God told me” to. Zenit reported on Monday 19th August that Benedict had told his visitor he’d decided to step down as a result of what he described as a “mystical experience”. That experience sparked an “absolute desire” to dedicate his life exclusively to prayer, in a solitary relationship with God, Benedict reportedly said. The first pope to resign in more than 600 years, he told aides he intended to live out his life “hidden from the world.”

When he announced his resignation, Benedict told the gathered cardinals, in Latin, that his “strengths” were no longer sufficient “to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me” because of old age. According to the report, Benedict also praised the “charisma” of his successor, Pope Francis, saying that his actions persuaded him fully that Francis’ election, and Benedict’s own retirement, were “God’s will.” Asked about Benedict’s living nearby, Pope Francis has smilingly replied “it’s like having your grandfather at home.”

As, back then in February, I watched the helicopter carry Papa off to Castel Gandolfo, this Liberal Catholic Anglican was spurred, by a measure of unexpected affection and gratitude for the long service of this most conservative yet patently prayerful Roman Pontiff, to pen the following

Eighty-five years and resigned to
Breathe my last in harness
For six centuries there’s
Never been another way to
Launch a Conclave –
Papa’s last breath
Silver hammer to Seal and Ring a
Funeral rite to sing
Only One Way to go We know

But Our vineyard compels in this
Heart and mind and soul and frame
Acknowledgment of origins – the
Dust from whence I came, and any
Son of Adam’s pilgrim destiny
Pontiff and Barque now ache for renewal
For Son of Man’s own strength and prayer
Serenely then to pray for both
I am We are newly resigned

SRM 28 ii 2013