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The Word on the Week

Pope goes

For many of us who lack the skills to interpret points of Catholic doctrine the most significant thing about the Pope’s term in office was his resignation this week. We never knew he could do such a thing. We thought it was a life sentence!

Being able to call “times up” is speaking in language I can understand. Rather like the headmaster fed up with the endless bickering in the staff-room and the kids being disobedient in the playground it makes sense to call it a day – especially at age 85.

There will now be time to get back to the writing desk and do a sequel to his trilogy on the life of Jesus. Perhaps an appreciation of the life of St Paul could come next? In the last book of the series he sought to take the text at face value and, finding no reference to the presence of animals in the Gospel accounts of the stable at the birth of Jesus, made his findings known to the consternation of the many crib creators in Ireland!

We all have our pet doctrines and these have a habit of popping up at regular intervals. For instance some of our Baptist expositors see baptism every time water is mentioned so we will have to be a little tolerant if in his writings the Pope sees mass every time Jesus has a meal!

Over the last 8 years we have been grateful for his strong support for traditional Catholic stances on abortion, the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. He withstood the pressures of secularism when other churches capitulated to it. It will need a strong man to continue to hold the rope in these turbulent times.

It may come as a surprise to some that the Bible does not mention the office of Pope. Tradition has it the St Peter was the first one but this is not how he saw himself as his writings show; “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”(1Peter chapter 5 verses 1-3).

St Peter’s identifying with his fellow elders; his recognising that one could so easily lord it over others makes it plain that he learned from the time Jesus washed his feet along with the other disciples.

Perhaps with the Pope’s resignation will come the opportunity to proclaim Jesus as St Peter did before him; `Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts Chapter 2 verse 21).