I like history. It’s not often that you get a heads up on when it’s going to be made, especially on a global scale. That’s why I’ve been following with some interest the news stories about Pope Benedict’s resignation of the papacy. Part of the reason is that I grew up Catholic, the other part is just the historic nature of this. Let’s face it, Catholic or not, the overall history being made here is fascinating.
There have been four Popes in my lifetime. Paul VI from 1963-1978, John Paul I who was Pope for only Pope for 33 days, John Paul II 1978-2005 (the main one I remember) and Benedict XVI 2005-2013. There have been 3 Conclaves to elect a new Pope (4 coming soon) with Benedict’s election the only one I actually remember. I was a very lapsed Catholic at that point, but the history, tradition and mystery of the election made me pay attention to it.
Add to the coming Conclave, you have the resignation of the papacy for the first time in (gonna round up just a hair) 600 years. This would have put it well before Columbus even came to America. Shakespeare’s great grandparents weren’t likely even born at that point. 600 years is a long piece of history even for an institution that says it goes back 2000 years. It will be the first time in 600 years since we’ve had an ex-pope and a current pope living at the same time.
One other thing of possible historic mention, is that some of the favorites in the running to be Pope are not European. That alone is a pretty big deal. Granted this has been a possibility before and has not come to pass. So on that, we’ll just have to wait and see.
My point here is not to push love to the Catholic Church. I don’t care if you love it or don’t. My point is to show the historic nature of what is occurring. To recommend keeping an eye on this just because this is historic. Depending on the age of the next Pope, it could be last Conclave we see in some time and well we all know how it has been since the last resignation (600 yrs). No matter what, we are going to be able to witness something that is definite for the history books. I just hope you all will give a little of your time to witness it yourself.
Originally published February 19, 2013