Pope Benedict is retiring at age 85. Ed Morrissey pens a lengthy and beautifully written tribute to Benedict at Hot Air:
Again, just to give some historical perspective, the last time this happened, Gutenberg hadn’t yet invented the printing press. What does it mean for the Catholic Church today, with 1.2 billion faithful and the state of the Vatican in the balance? Administratively, not much. The Vatican and the Church operate without a Pope when one dies, and the same mechanisms will carry out the day-to-day functions of both the Church and the state until a successor is chosen by the College of Cardinals. If anything, that will proceed in a more orderly fashion, with the head start provided by Benedict XVI’s notice.
Spiritually, of course, it’s another matter entirely. Benedict XVI is one of the Church’s greatest living theologians, and has been a highly-respected leader of faith in his pontificate. It’s impossible not to compare him to his predecessor Blessed John Paul, whose pontificate lasted for decades and who had a tremendous impact on the world and governed the Church through a renewal of faith, but that comparison will probably be a little unfair to Benedict XVI. The manner of his leaving, though, begs for that kind of comparison. Blessed John Paul took the traditional route of holding the office to his death despite suffering from Parkinson’s, a disease that ravaged his body but left his mind clear. Benedict XVI makes explicit mention of concerns over the state of his “mind and body” and a deterioration in one or both that has created an “incapacity,” which leaves the impression that one of the most brilliant minds in the Church may be dimming, and that Benedict XVI has decided to forego the difficulties this would cause the Church and allow another to take his place. That itself is a significant sacrifice, and perhaps an important act of humility.
Needless to say, Benedict XVI will be in our prayers. In my life, I’ve only really known two Popes, and I’ve only been physically close to this one: when I traveled to Rome for the beatification of Blessed John Paul two years ago. Benedict XVI conducted the long ceremony and exhibited strength, joy, and faith. While I didn’t get to see him up close — I was actually just outside the wall and watched on a TV screen, surrounded by an estimated 3 million pilgrims — it was literally a life-changing experience, in ways that are still unfolding for me.
As I said at the top of the post, Benedict is 85. In recent years, there have been several men who have had careers deep into their 80s and 90s. In 2002, seven years before he passed away, I interviewed Les Paul backstage in New York’s Iridium Jazz Club before his weekly Monday night show the week before his 87th birthday. After the interview, I told Les the joke that Woody Allen telegrammed to Groucho Marx in the early 1970s when the latter man invited him to his birthday party, adjusted for Les’s age: “Sorry I can’t attend your 87th birthday — but I expect you to be at mine!” Architect Philip Johnson was designing buildings right up until his death in 2005 at age 98. Tom Wolfe is still happily writing books in his early 80s. Britain’s Christopher Lee is still acting in big budget movies, including the Hobbit movies at age 90.
But they’re very much the exception. Over the past decade, I watched both of my parents, and my aunt on my father’s side all rapidly age, atrophy and then pass way when they hit their mid-80s. For many, whatever their prior health, that’s simply when their body begins to fall apart.
Although for some, the mind goes at a younger age. A much younger age. Which brings us to Ace on “Piers Morgan, Papal Truther:”
Pope Benedict, who’s 85, says he’s stepping down due to deteriorating health.
I repeat: He’s 85. Human health does indeed often deteriorate in the upper 80’s.
You may wonder why I’m telling you something so obvious. I’m not telling you.
Carnival barker Piers Morgan isn’t having it.
As a Catholic, I’m not buying this. Popes don’t just quit because they’re tired. What’s going on here??
I assume that means he’ll have a show tonight pushing his speculations and conspiracy theories.
Well, it’s not like Morton Downey Morgan owes his American career to an elderly father figure retiring from his day to day duties in his advanced years.
And as John Nolte writes at Big Journalism, “Soledad O’Brien did the same on the CNN network, immediately using the Pope’s resignation as an excuse to delve into the Church’s child abuse scandal.”
Well, not prominent every religious figure can have the home run career of Reverend Wright.
As John writes: “This is the biggest story yet to break on newly-installed CNN Chief Jeff Zucker’s watch, and already the new boss is looking an awful lot like the old boss.”
Meanwhile, Twitchy spots BBC star Frankie Boyle living up to the title of his 2009 autobiography, My Sh*t Life So Far:
.@Pontifex Don’t worry, in a few months you’ll be laughing about this. With Hitler in Hell.
Followed by this:
The Pope must have done something even the Church finds unacceptable. I’m guessing he’s shagged an adult woman.
Fortunately, other than today’s unfortunate lapse in taste, the BBC is entirely without sin and scandal.
Meanwhile, back in the States,“NBC Recalls Pope Being ‘God’s Rottweiler’; Highlights Church Sex Abuse Scandal,” as spotted by Newsbusters.
Well, not everyone can go out on top in NBC’s eyes:
Finally, Big Hollywood rounds up the reaction from celebrities on this side of the pond. It’s precisely as classy and dignified as you’d expect.
Update: “Aside from highlighting the important role that religious faith can play in inspiring kindness on the part of its adherents, it also raises one more suspicion: That many self-proclaimed atheists actually believe in God — they’re just angry at Him.”