Am I the only one who is feeling a bit unfaithful right now? Perhaps a bit divided? Don’t get me wrong, I am elated at the election of Pope Francis and the blessing he appears to be to our Church. His modesty and low maintenance style is very appealing. The positions he has historically held on the moral issues I hold dear are spot on from what I have learned about him in the past two days. But what about dear, sweet, unassuming Benedict? Unlike other past popes, he has not yet gone to his Eternal Reward. He still lives – albeit solitarily – amongst us. Our gentle German Shepherd did so much for Holy Mother Church during his eight year pontificate – not to mention, the time he spent serving as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger.
OK, I’ll admit that his German heritage always appealed to me. His way of analyzing and explaining felt like my German Opa counseling me in the ways of the Faith. I will also be eternally grateful for what I suspect is a deeper framework for the future of Christ’s Church than we will ever realize. Even the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio may have Benedict's fingerprints on it. But what do we do about Benedict now? He still occupies a warm place in my heart and even as I work feverishly to get to know Pope Francis, I still hear the echoes of what Benedict has taught us ringing in my soul.
Is this how it feelswhen an adopted child finds her birth parent(s)? That feeling of split loyalty - OK, I know where my loyalty lies, but you know what I mean, right? How does one negotiate the roadways of affection, loyalty and love for two of something? It will be interesting to see. Now that the mystery has been revealed, and we know who will be serving as the Vicar of Christ, life can begin to normalize a bit. Sure, we have much to learn about our new Pope, but we still have much to glean from what his predecessor has gifted to the world. Therein lies the beauty of the Church instituted by Christ Himself - a succession of earthy Shepherds to lead us Home. May we find an equitable place in our hearts for them both. Viva la Papa – past and present!