My first post is well timed with today’s big news: Pope Benedict’s shocking resignation at the end of this month.
I, like many people (religious and non-religious) around the world found this to be very shocking. Since it’s been 600 years since the last resignation, clearly this doesn’t happen everyday. Due to his poor health, the leader of the Catholic Church decided to resign, but his resignation left me with more questions than answers. One of the biggest questions is the one I think is on everyone’s minds: What does this mean for the church?
Having Benedict resign so abruptly makes it so that the church has a bit more time to start finding a replacement pope. But the decision they make can really affect the future of the church. Will the church choose a more liberal pope, or continue with the conservative theology of Benedict, known as “God’s Rottweiler?” From an interfaith perspective, Benedict did not have the best relations with other faiths, making different comments and actions over his 8 years to offend different religious groups. (This Toronto Star article gives a brief synopsis of some of these conflicts.) This is an opportunity for the interfaith work started in the Vatican II council to really move forward, if the right pope is picked to oversee it.
In essence, I see this as an opportunity to change the course of history, especially regarding interfaith cooperation. This could be a great change in favor of interfaith or it could become another hurdle that the movement jumps over. I am holding my breath until Easter, hoping that they make the right choice. But regardless of the pope, religious pluralism will still continue and Catholics will still have a space at the table.