Saying Goodbye to My Papa

It’s odd saying goodbye to a pope who hasn’t died.  But, saying goodbye to this pope in particular is very personal to me.  It seems that Pope Benedict and I have run a course of ironic similarity over the past nearly 8 years.

Don’t worry.  I don’t consider myself papal or even close to the holiness and greatness that is our former Holy Father.  However, as my husband and I were discussing all of this and making our predictions about who might be elected next (and, calculating that there will probably be at least 2 more popes in our lifetime), I realized that good ol’ Benny and I have some major things in common.
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Have questions about the Pope’s resignation?

After the initial shock of the news wore off, the questions started.  While we here at The Catholic Realist are not cardinals, canon lawyers, or papal historians, we did some homework and got answers to a few of the questions running through the minds of our Catholic brothers and sisters today.

**Edit: As we come across more questions being asked, we’ll add them to the list.**

Q.  Wait…WHAT?! Is this a joke?

A.  Yeah, that was my first question too.  I woke up this morning and saw the following on my Facebook news feed:

BREAKING NEWS: Pope Benedict announces he will be retiring.

At first I thought it was a joke.  I thought maybe I had been in a coma for the past 2 months and it was really April 1 – and someone was pulling a bad April Fool’s Joke.  Then I read the Pope’s letter announcing his resignation.  Turns out, it’s not a joke.  Pope Benedict XVI is renouncing the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor to Saint Peter as of February 28, 2013.

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Q.  Is that even possible?  Can a Pope just “quit”?

A.  Turns out, he can.  The Code of Canon Law states,

“If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone” (Canon 332, No. 2).

It’s rare, but there is a precedent in the two thousand year history of the church. Read More