In the last couple of weeks, the media has been inundated with the news of the Pope’s resignation and the perceived consequences of the same. In a way, it is impressive to observe the obsession of the secular media houses with the papacy. The attention is a sign that contrary to regular talking points, the influence of religion in general and Christianity in particular is not waning. This is despite of the fact that secularism is on the rise and church attendance is on a downward spiral. Interestingly, studies have shown that all over the world, people are getting more and more religious, not less. There is no doubt that in the entire world, no single office attracts more attention than that of the papacy.
Whether the Pope speaks from Rome or travels overseas, powerful leaders from powerful nations pay attention whether they agree with him or not. The United Nations has been known to convene a council so as to accommodate the address of the Pope. From the leadership of St. Peter through the reign of John Paul II and lately Benedict, XVI, history has confirmed those words of Jesus: “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” There is no question that in history, the Church has gone through innumerable trials and tribulations. To this very day, the fact that there are many ecclesial communities disunited in doctrine and interpretation of scriptures must be a painful scenario, especially if we consider that the final wish of the Lord was: “that they may be one.” So, then what do we have to look forward to?
Well, there is no question that the next Pope has his work cut out for him. Listening to the cable news, and paying close attention to critics (both friend and foe), there are three main non-issues that come to the surface: women ordination, gay-marriage and priestly celibacy. It would be a great surprise if these issues make it to the forefront of the agenda of any pope for years to come. Issues that touch on Sacraments are locked in and have an integrity, which supersedes the 24 hour News cycle and transcend the natural order. To put it simply, it goes like this: water is used for Baptism, oil is used for Confirmation, bread and wine for the Eucharist, man and woman for Marriage and the male (man) for Ordination; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. It is unrealistic to expect the pope to steer the course on issues that seem to run contrary to scripture and Christianity itself. Why should Christianity compromise its core principles or rather adapt them to a secular world that already ridicules it?