Pope Benedict, as the first pope in 600 years to voluntarily leave office, stepped down this week. The Church now waits “in joyful hope” and anticipation in an interim period called, “Sede Vacante.”
So here we are in a transition time, and what a time it is! “Odds Makers” in Las Vegas are encouraging people to place bets on who the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church will be. There are sites soliciting people to provide the top characteristic they would want in the next pope. The Cardinals are gathering in Rome.
Questions swirl and dance, tempt and tease. Will this leader help us face the major challenges of our times? Will he be a person of courage and spirit - one who will help the Church and the world face the controversial issues that try to divide and destroy us as human beings? Will a leader be called forth who will turn worldwide systems of covering up cases of abuse into new systems that value transparency and promote healing? How will trust be mended? Can it be regained? It will take a healer-leader who exhibits fearless compassion to mend and unite.
Will the spirit of the Second Vatican Council be the guide for ongoing renewal of the whole Catholic Church including the Vatican? Will the reforms needed in the Church be discussed and promoted?
We will have opportunities for life-giving reconciliation with our Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim sisters and brothers. Will we step into them?
Will we make peace with modern science and be a more vocal participant at the discussion table when issues of morality are pitted against issues of progress. Will we place not only human needs but the needs of a fragile planet forward in the discussion of health and wholeness?
The issues of our day seem too much for one person alone to bear…will collegiality be modeled by the pope and the bishops? Will the understanding of true community deepen into a new way of being together? Will Catholics be encouraged to speak up, to speak out for justice in this world as well as for justice within the Church? Will the new pope encourage the faithful to speak truth to power? Everyone has the ability do something toward the renewal of the Church and the renewal of the world within their own life. Will the new pope lead by example as the heart and hands of the body of Christ alive in this world?
So many questions to live into, so many hopes, so many dreams for the promise of a new day ... let us pray that the hearts of those choosing the new pope will be inspired to choose a person of great love, compassion, and courage - one who unites, one who includes, one who invites, and one who helps us face our challenges head-on together.
Kathy Van Duser, Director of Recruitment | firstname.lastname@example.org| 773-371-5450