Unless you’re living in a cave, you are probably aware that they have elected a new pope. I have some thoughts on this subject, even though I don’t know much about Cardinals.
The first thing that struck me about our new pope is the fact that the man is only six years younger than John Paul II was when he died. Also, he has been a cardinal for 28 years and from what I gather, was pretty much JP2’s right hand man. The other pope-hopefuls had been appointed in the eighties or nineties. I can’t help but wonder if the German won for reasons of seniority. Does the Church work that way? I also can’t help wondering if this pontiff’s reign will be cut short in the manner that a pope’s reign can be cut short, that is, death from the ailments of old age. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m sure they were looking at the “wisdom and experience” that comes from age, however, the average life expectancy in the US is 77 years, a milestone that this guy has already passed. And even if he beats JP2, what kind of pope will he be in ten years? I just have to think that they must have taken his personal health habits and family history into account if they think he’ll be able to make his mark. Personally, I was rooting for the “young” guy, the 60-year-old.
But maybe Benedict XVI is our rebound pope.
Another thing I was thinking about now that John Paul II has been officially replaced is how, since he was to this point the only pope I’ve known in my lifetime (he was elected just two months before my birth), his name has practically become Church canon to me. Just as Rembert, Milwaukee’s former archbishop, had been. I’m still not used to the phrase “John Paul our Pope, Paul our Bishop. The rhythm is wrong. Just as it will sound wrong to me when the priest says, “Benedict our Pope, Paul our bishop.” If you don’t go to Catholic Mass, you might not have any idea what I’m talking about, but to be honest with you, even though this is part of a blessing contained in every mass, I couldn’t tell you exactly where it falls or the exact context. Just that it will be strange to hear the change in rhythm from the phrase I heard for so many years as a child: “John Paul our Pope, Rembert our bishop…” and whatever general term for the clergy follows.
All I mean is that there are certain constants, the structure of mass, etc., that you expect from the Church. I just never realized how much I still expect the rhythm of those names to be one of those constants.
I’m a poet… I’ve got rhythm on the brain.