The Pastor of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Barrington, Father Bernie Pietrzak, says he was drinking a cup of coffee, listening to The Score Sports Radio and reviewing his calendar for the week at his kitchen table this Monday morning when he heard one of the radio hosts say, “Hey, get this, the Pope just resigned.”
Father Bernie says his first reaction was to wonder whether it was all some sort of a joke. “I was shocked, kind of surprised for a few minutes and taken aback. Much like everyone else, I had no clue this was coming. My next thought was, Wow, what great courage and guts for him to do that. What a love of the church for the Pope to recognize that he was no longer able to live-up physically, or perhaps even mentally, to the task of his ministry as the Bishop of Rome and I felt some relief for the man.”
Pope Benedict says he’s resigning for reasons related to his health and age. He is the first pope to resign in the past 598 years, so it’s a pretty bold and unexpected move, as far as popes are concerned. And I think I’ll be paying closer attention to who fills his shoes now, more than ever, because of this:
In recent years, all three of our kids have been baptized as Catholics. Two of them, baptized by Father Bernie himself.
My husband and I want to share our religious upbringing with our kids. But we also care a great deal about the examples set by Catholic leaders today. So I asked Father Bernie what qualities he’d like to see in our next pope and I’m glad I did, because I really appreciated his candor when he told me this:
“I think Pope Benedict’s resignation makes the office of the pope more human and I think the Catholic Church needs that these days.
When it comes to the next pope, I think a regular guy would be a nice change. Someone who has been a parish priest for a while, someone who has actually heard confessions, been a pastor, worked with youth or young marrieds and someone who has had to really work at preaching the faith to skeptical folks.
It would be great if the new pope would be someone who comes from a family with brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews or who has married friends with young adult children and has had to deal with questions about faith at their dinner tables.
Someone who has strong women in his life. That’s very important. Someone who has good friendships with women and recognizes that they have substantial careers outside the home.
Someone with a family member who has come out and is gay and can reconcile that and understand that fully and clearly, not with judgement, but with love.
It would be nice to have someone with a sense of humor who can tell a joke and laugh at himself. A ‘guys’ guy’, with good friends who still call him by his first name to remind him of his humanity.”
Well that all sounds like a step in the right direction to me, Father Bernie! It’ll be interesting to watch the succession from our new vantage point as parents.
And I can’t help but fast-forward in my mind to the day when our own kids are 80. What apps will the pope have on his next generation iPhone then? What musicians will make his 2093 Pandora playlist? What will his future Facebook profile picture look like? And is it possible that he will be a she?
By the way, when I was reading about Pope Benedict this week, I visited the Vatican’s website for the very first time. Have you been there? You’ll find it at Vatican.va. You can also follow the Pope on Facebook by clicking HERE, on Twitter by clicking HERE, on YouTube by clicking HERE and you can click HERE to find the Pope’s official news website.
You might get a kick out of this website I found where you can see who people are betting will be the next pope.
Back here in Barrington, I highly recommend making a stop at the St. Anne’s Catholic Community website, where you’ll find more information about the parish, its services, school and other programs. You’ll find that site at StAnneBarrington.org.