The Pope’s Coming Resignation
For the first time in 600 years, the Pope of the Roman Catholic church is resigning.
What does it mean when a leader from the largest Christian denomination resigns?
2.2 billion people consider themselves Christian. Just over half of those Christians, or about 1.1 billion, are Roman Catholic, with some additional 240 million Eastern Orthodox. The Catholic leader, Pope Benedict XVI, recently announced that he will resign on Feb. 28, 2013 because he is simply too weak to carry on. This is the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. This decision sets the stage for a conclave. A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope.
The news agency known as 'The World seen from Rome', ZENIT said that the 85-year-old Pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican Cardinals on Monday morning, Feb. 11, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that carrying out the duties of being Pope requires "both strength of mind and body." "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."
"If the Catholic Church ever needed prayer it would be now."
According to CNN the claim around his aging health is questionable but ZENIT emphatically states that the above reason is the only reason for the Pope’s decision. Once resigned from the papal office the Pope will live in a monastery on Vatican grounds simply studying and dedicating the remainder of his life to prayer. He will no longer be running the governing body of the Catholic Church. The conclave is anticipating the appointment to the new Pope by Easter this year.
So what does this mean for the Catholic and the rest of the Christian world? There will be the normalcy of what follows to elect a new Pope for the Catholic Church. My personal conviction is that “God is in control”, He is sovereign and allows the free will choice of good and evil in the world. That means there is absolutely nothing that happens that is outside of His influence and authority. Consider the Revelation 21:6 idea of God being the Alpha and Omega. God is above all things and before all things.
"It is time to align our hearts with His plans!"
As steps move towards “passing the baton” in electing a new Pope, Romans 8:28 is a good prayer covering for the Catholic Church. Our heart cries out for His redeeming grace so that all things work out for the good for those who love His name.
If the Catholic Church ever needed prayer it would be now. There is God’s permissive will and His perfect will! Jesus’ model prayer to the body of Christ calling in His Kingdom and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven is the prayer of the hour. Though man makes plans, they are always subject to God’s plan. I believe God can “trump” any world event (excuse the playing card term), especially the governance of institutions and nations, in this eschatological period that we are living in. It is time to align our hearts with His plans!
Years ago as I was devotionally reflecting on the Body of Christ as it prepares itself for the great consummation of all time and as I was reflecting I started to look at the Catholic Church in its totality. I was asking God, "How am I to embrace the Catholic Church?" I thought of some of our doctrinal differences as doors started to open for me to minister to many Catholics worldwide. Immediately I heard a question going through my mind: "What would your Church do if the Queen of England was going to visit?" I responded by saying, "I presume we would 'role out the red carpet', so to speak." We would prepare for the visit with the utmost honour, learning the etiquette and protocol fit for a Queen. What followed in my mind was a question, “If you honour a monarch how much more would you honour the legacy of the Catholic Church”?
"I want to stand and support my Catholic friends"
As I took time to think through the question, I thought of the institution of the Catholic Church and then the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR). It became clear to me that I should honour the Catholic Church on their terms. In the positive, that would mean, “when in Rome do as the Romans”, with the intent to win them to Christ. Perhaps that is similar to what the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians:
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV)
As I started to think of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, it was also impressed upon me what Paul said to the Corinthians in his second letter, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV). I like the idea that where the Spirit is made Lord there is freedom! I have been given much freedom within the CCR’s arm of the Catholic Church to minister the Father’s love.
Learning to love the Body of Christ means learning to honour each member. What that really means for us as Christians is not entertaining criticism, suspicion or theories about other members but using our discernment to direct our prayers for the whole Body; Jesus died for us all. I want to stand and support my Catholic friends especially as we share things in common such as upholding the belief in the supernatural, healing, presence, family, life etc. There is much work to be done on this side of things rather than having our focus on being pre-occupied with our differences. Besides, change for both Catholics and the rest of us as Christians takes place more effectively in an atmosphere of honour and love.
Battle For The Next Pope
Would you consider joining me in praying for the next Pope? I am praying that he would be a Holy man and leader of influence. A great reformer, fully Charismatic/Pentecostal and upholding the absolutes of the Bible, loving the Word and the Spirit! A revivalist who gives full consent to the Holy Spirit’s breath upon all the areas of the Church that have become “dry bones”.
"Let’s pray the perfect will of God for the Catholic Church"
All candidates having an equal opportunity, the next Pope may be African or Latino … yet the odds are for a European, especially Italian as they occupy half the spots in the College of Cardinals who have the voting privileges. For me the real battle is whether the next Pope is “prayed in” to fit my bill, written above. The chief query, who will succeed? The candidates are from a vast theological spectrum ranging from a traditional, moderate, charismatic, liberal or conservative perspective. So let’s pray the perfect will of God for the Catholic Church: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2-5 NIV)