Anyhoo, I read some shocking news this morning, as did the rest of the world, I'm sure.
As of the end of this month, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI will retire, the first to do so in over seven centuries. The year 1294, to be exact, was the last year that a pope resigned on his own.
His departure is due to reasons of health. After all, he is 85, and he did outlive his immediate predecessor Blessed Pope John Paul II by a year or so (thus far).
There is no doubt that I, your friendly neigborhood iSNARK!, will miss this great Pontiff. After all, he wrote The Spirit of the Liturgy and other books and documents that teach of the proper implementations of Holy Mass, including its music. He wrote the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which makes the Traditional Latin Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 (which he dubbed "The Extraordinary Form of the Mass") more accessible. While certain people in one music message board via Yahoo! Groups I once frequented were "heartsick" over the election of Jozef Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, I rejoiced, shouting out "YES!" like the Red Sox had just smoked the Yankees. During the conclave that followed the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II, I was rooting for (in my heart) and praying for the election of either Jozef Cardinal Ratzinger or Francis Cardinal Arinze, two prominent liturgists of the day who really "got it" when it came to liturgy and the Catholic faith.
Now Pope Benedict's departure will have me temporarily "heartsick". However, I can understand why he is stepping down. As my local bishop, Bishop Thomas Tobin, rightly put it, “Our Holy Father’s resignation is, I believe, an act of great humility for he understands that the needs of the Church are greater than his own; that ultimately the well-being of the Church is God’s hands, not the Pope’s.” A sign that the Holy Father really cares for his Church enough where he feels a better Shepherd can care for it at this time.
Now, as I rooted on Cardinals Ratzinger and Arinze and prayed hard for the election of either/or, I will do the same in this conclave. I've had these dreams (night and day) on and off that it is possible that our beloved Church could have its first American-born Shepherd. I've been rooting on Raymond Cardinal Burke, who did wonderful work in the Diocese of LaCrosse and in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He is a prelate who really has (and uses well) the backbone needed to uphold Catholic teachings. I think he would do very well as a pope. It is not to me to decide. That is to the College of Cardinals. However, I can still root him on and pray, as I did in the last conclave.
In the meantime, I wish Pope Benedict XVI the very best. I enjoyed his papacy of almost eight years.
AD MULTOS ANNOS, HOLY FATHER!