Last night we go the welcome news that my kid's school would have a delayed opening today. Two more lovely hours of sleep! I was so excited.
But the dogs got me up at 6, and as I waited from them to return from the back yard I idly turned on the computer. Just to check the headlines. Then I planned to go back to my nice warm bed and--
HOLY CONCLAVES, BATMAN!!! The pope - the Vicar of Christ, the Numero Uno honcho of the Catholic Church on earth, had just announced he was quitting!!
Needless to say there was no going back to bed after that.
I had to read the piece a couple of times before it sank in. I still can't really get my head wrapped around the news. The Pope resigning?
Wait. Isn't that also called "abdicating?"
No, can't be. "Abdicating" sounds like something only a troublemaker would do. "Retiring," maybe? No, that sound like he just wants to play golf.
People are opining all over Twitter and Facebook. Everything from "What a brave decision" to "How could he leave us now?" With of course the usual anti-Catholic crudity from the usual suspects. I just hope Stephen Colbert doesn't say anything stupid. That would be sad.
According to reports the Pope-- what do you call an ex-pope, by the way?-- plans to spend his retirement in Castel Gandolfo. OK. Fine. But what about next August when it's time for the new pope to take his vacation there? What's Benedict going to do- sublet? Timeshare?
And oh, Lord, here we ago again with the conclaves. It seems like only yesterday St Peter's Square was packed with pilgrims checking for white smoke. And you know why it seems like yesterday. Because in Catholic Church terms, seven years ago WAS freakin' yesterday. I mean, come on, guys! Not even a decade! And now we have to listen to all that "who's papabile" gossip again? More speculation on African cardinals, more jerks on CNN giving us their expert opinions on women priests and married clergy.
Not to mention the conspiracy theories. Apparently Piers Morgan has already gone on Twitter to say he's "not buying" the poor health excuse. "What's the pope hiding?" And you thought only conservatives were the mad theorists.
I think it's appropriate, though, that Benedict made his announcement right before Lent. Listening to Piers Morgan was bad enough before, but now it will be some kind of uber-penance. Also the prospect of a papal election before Easter gives all one's Lenten penances kind of a twofer effect- reparation for sin, and a votive offering: "Please God. don't let the College of Cardinal screw this moment in history up."