Resigning, Not Retiring

pope benedict vxi resignation

Pope Benedict XVI statement on his resignation (Image from Quotesgram)

Author’s Note: Much has been said and speculated about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. After much thinking, here is what I can say and think about.

The title should have been read as “Resigning from position of power, not retiring from service”.

I have come with the phrase upon reflecting on a certain news item days ago: the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The news came as a shock for many people, Catholic generally, worldwide. It is in the minds of many people that a Pope should sit in power until his very last breath. In other words, he is to serve until he breathes no more. People are expecting a Pope to die in power.

People are speculating over the real reasons for the pope’s resignation. They do not believe he resigned over health reasons. Some thought he was a coward, afraid of dying in the office while others remarked there is no such thing as resignation when it comes to serving God. They thought by resigning, Pope Benedict already stopped serving God.

Lightning strikes St Peter's dome at Vatican on day Pope Benedict announced his resignation.

Lightning strikes St Peter’s dome at Vatican on day Pope Benedict announced his resignation. (Photo from AFP)

On the health reasons, people criticized him for stepping down when in fact, his predecessor, the late John Paul II, did not resign. Alzheimer’s disease and other health problems did not prevent John Paul from carrying out his job and traveling across the globe . People expected Benedict to do the same: To die in power.

Thinking over, I would like to make the following points:

  • Service to God goes beyond resignation. True, the pope may have renounced his position of power, but not his faith in God and service to the church. He can still serve the church even if he is pope no more. He can serve either as a writer or a monk.
  • If you think you no longer have the mental and physical capacity to serve, why stay longer in your position? If you think the condition of your health, both physical and mental, is preventing you from serving any further, do yourself a favor: Step down and spend the remainder of your life doing something else.
  • One need not to stay in power to serve. You can still serve in a different way. As what the pope said, he is not abandoning the church but will serve in a different way.
  • The pope’s act is not an act of cowardice but of self-realization. He realized he is no longer physically and mentally fit to hold on to his position. He further realized that by stepping down, he will do more good than harm to the church.
  • It is an act of acceptance. He accepted his frailty and he knew how his current health condition is affecting him. With little time left in his life, he wants to spend it stress-free as he knows he will die any moment. On the other side, we have many politicians who still cling to power even if they are inept.

How Does It Relate to Me?

In my college years, I was a member of the college paper, and up to my very last day at college, I remained a member. After graduation, the school paper adviser wanted me to keep in touch with him and the other members. He even wanted me to continue contributing articles to the school paper even if I am no longer affiliated with the school or with the publication staff.

I may be gone from the school publication but with my love for writing, I am not. Months later, my school paper adviser contacted me to speak in a number of writing engagements and to help manage the publication during our coverage of a regional sporting event. I may no longer be the feature editor of my college paper, but I am still a writer. And I am there for my fellow writers.

Even if I resign from my job as web content writer, I will still go on to write, especially for this blog. There is no stopping me from writing.

What About Others?

Michael Jordan did not retire from basketball. True he retired as a player, but not as a lover of the sport. He went on to invest in the Washington Wizards and then the Charlotte Hornets.

Another NBA player Mark Price, who once battled Jordan, did not either. He coached a high school basketball team.

Even Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Steve Kerr and Brent Barry did not give up basketball. They became NBA analysts.

None of this people above did retire from basketball. There is no retiring from what they love about.

Service to God is Pope Benedict’s vocation. Basketball is for Jordan, Price, O’Neal, Barkley, Kerr and Barry. Mine is writing. If we love doing something, should we retire? No! We carry this vocation until we die. We may not have the position but we have the vocation for doing what we love and do best.


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