Monday, February 11, 2013

Most Popes reign for 1-5 years

length of papacies by Anura Guruge
source

Most Popes reign for 1-5 years, so eight years is perhaps no too short a reign. For a Pope who values continuity living in a Vatican granny-flat might ensure that Pope Benedict's successor continues much what has been done. I rather like the idea of Pope Callistus or Leo popping round for tea and buns and a little advice with his predecessor.

I think that occasionally Pope Benedict uses the idea of "stampede", to get things going, he did this with Summorum Pontificum, and Regensburg speech, this is his last stampede.
There are things that are impossible for a Pope in his eighties to do, like reforming the Vatican, which presumably any future Conclave will see as a priority, and which will mandate our next Pope to carry out.

Some of the things he set in place that are not going to be changed but need another hand to move them forward, such directing ecumenism towards the East, seeing Vatican II in terms of continuity, recognising the need to reconcile the Church's present with its past, both Liturgically anf theologically.

Pope Benedict has appointed most of the Cardinals in the Conclave, he has appointed all the leading members of the Curia, and he himself will be alive, so continuity is to some extant guaranteed.

What hasn't happened in this Papacy, is the factionalising and jockeying for position which was such a feature of John Paul's dying years, when the See of Peter was effectively vacant for years, the remnants of which have blighted the reign of Pope Benedict and manifested themselves in "Vatileaks".

So, apart from my initial shock, I think this a wise move by a wise Pope.
As my old aunt used to say, "Knowing when and how to leave is the sign of a gentleman"..

22 comments:

TomG said...

"See of Peter was effectively vacant for years"

Yikes, Father! Please me you're not a crypto-sedevacantist! :)

JARay said...

I must agree with you Father that the See of Peter was effectively vacant for years during the latter part of the reign of JP II and clearly Benedict XVI does not want to repeat that.

Et Expecto said...

According to your statistics, the average length of a papal reign is a bit less than 7.5 years. Benedict will do about 7.9 years. Not a bad achievement , when one considers that he got the job at the age of 78.

I am actually neither surprised nor disappionted by the decision. His Holiness said in 2010 that if ever he thought that he was no longer able to do the job effectively, he would resign. This is precisely what he has done. He has acted wisely, which is typical of him.

I am not disappointed, because he has laid the foundations for a new man to come in and continue the good work. All the senior Vatican positions are occupied by people that he has appointed, and most of the voting Cardinals are likewise his appointments.

Surely we can expect the next papacy to persue an agenda very much in line with Benedict's thinking. Meanwhile, Cardinal Ratzinger can have a more restful and well earned retirement.

David Joyce said...

Actually, Father, those statistics can be read more ways than your headline suggests. For example, 121 Popes reigned for 0 - 5 years, and 144 Popes reigned for 5+ years, so it might be more correct to say "Most Popes reign for more than 5 years", just like our present Holy Father. Indeed, the source indicates that before this papacy, the average reign was 7.2 years.

All the same, I think it sets a unfortunate precedent - will future Popes be pressurised to abdicate at a certain age or state of health?

David said...

"Surely we can expect the next papacy to persue an agenda very much in line with Benedict's thinking." So, along the lines of John XXlll or indeed JPll?! No; just pray and leave it to the Holy Spirit and trust that we will have the Pope we need - perhaps not the Pope we want.

Simon Platt said...

No, Father,

Most popes have reigned for more than 5 years, as your graph clearly shows.

francis said...

One incidental advantage of the Holy Father resigning rather than dying in office is that we will avoid the silly cries of "Santo Subito!" that we had with his predecessor.

I have absolutely no doubt that Benedict XVI will eventually be raised to the altars (and not just because he happened to be a Pope). But I actually hope that won't be in my lifetime. We have had more than enough instant or hasty canonisations. What good does it serve? Let the Church return to working the way it does best – on a timescale of centuries rather than mere years.

johnh said...

A Pope in the mould of Benedict would suit me just fine. Sadly , some of the names being spouted by the talking heads on TV fill me with dread. Benedict is atruly great man who deserves his rest.

Gervase Crouchback said...

7AM Mass at st patrick's cathedral in Mwlbourne OZ was celebrated by the Dean . In his homily he said that a younger Pope will be needed to take on the vatican bureaucracy

Gervase Crouchback said...

11567AM Mass at st patrick's cathedral in Mwlbourne OZ was celebrated by the Dean . In his homily he said that a younger Pope will be needed to take on the vatican bureaucracy,and that Benedict was quite critical of this bureaucracy

parepidemos said...

I believe his resignation to be a sign of true humility. It is very seldom that those in power willingly stand aside as Benedict will do. I suspect he will go icognito somewhere until his successor is chosen (thus avoiding any allegation of influencing the outcome) after which time he will emerge to continue writing. Such a wonderful example to us all.

Damask Rose said...

I echo Parepidemos thoughts. I did have mixed feelings today, felt quite weepy, yes and angry too - it was a bit of a shock!- but I think Papa Benedict has the good of the Church at heart.

We need a younger Pope to clean out the Augean Stables of the Church. An elderly, ailing Pope can have pressure put upon him, or policies brought in behind his back.

"I am not disappointed, because he has laid the foundations for a new man to come in and continue the good work. All the senior Vatican positions are occupied by people that he has appointed, and most of the voting Cardinals are likewise his appointments.

Surely we can expect the next papacy to persue an agenda very much in line with Benedict's thinking. Meanwhile, Cardinal Ratzinger can have a more restful and well earned retirement."

Thank you for these comforting comments, Et Expecto.

I did always imagine that Papa Benedict would consecrate Russia to Our Lady of Fatima, on the 100th anniversary.

God bless you, Pope Benedict.

wretchedwithhope said...

A Rock is fixed, not flighty; steady, rooted, not subject to much change and any change occurs naturally, imperceptably. "Pope Benedict has appointed most of the Cardinals in the Conclave, he has appointed all the leading members of the Curia, and he himself will be alive, so continuity is to some extant guaranteed."

Et Expecto: ...he has laid the foundations for a new man to come in and continue the good work. All the senior Vatican positions are occupied by people that he has appointed, and most of the voting Cardinals are likewise his appointments.

francis: ...Let the Church return to working the way it does best – on a timescale of centuries rather than mere years.

The above witnesses stability and wisdom. Hopefully, even in retirement, he'll continue to be a wise navigator in these perpetually traitorous seas, helping to plot a safer course; Cardinal Ratzinger said of the Barque of Peter nearing to the cries of 'santo subito' of his predecessor that it was taking in water on all sides - the ability to acknowledge problems and enemies is half way to overcoming them - ignorance is the bliss of the lemming. At least now the breaches are obvious. Instant gratification canonizations of amorphous and mutable examples of post-VII faith that spell anything but 'rock', won't occur on his watch and hopefully will slow to a good and 'glacial' pace.

some quotes:

"Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy." May bishops and priests desrie this as well.

more on the Mass: "the word of God must be listened to and accepted in a spirit of communion with the Church and with a clear awareness of its unity with the sacrament of the Eucharist." Surely this means sermons must evince 'a spirit of communion with the Church', rather than the world?

"If we consider the bimillenary history of God's Church, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we can gratefully admire the orderly development of the ritual forms in which we commemorate the event of our salvation." may this long formation of 'orderly development of the ritual', which has slipped into obscurity, become visible once again.

"It is not our business to decide how many possibilities are latent in the cosmos, how many possibilities are hidden above and in it. The message of Christ and the Church puts credible knowledge about God within our reach. God wanted to enter into this world. God didn’t want us to have only a distant inkling of him through physics and mathematics. He wanted to show himself to us. And so he was able to do what the Gospels recount that he did, just as he was also able to create a new dimension of existence in the Resurrection. He was able to go beyond what Teilhard de Chardin called the biosphere and the noosphere and to institute precisely a new sphere, in which man and the world attain union with God." Pray the seminaries get beyond Teilhard de Chardin as well.

"We believe that in the Eucharist we really receive Christ, the Risen One. And if every member receives the same Christ, then we are all really gathered in this new, risen body as the locus of a new humanity. It is important to understand this and so to conceive the Church, not as an organization that is supposed to perform every possible function—the organization is part of the larger picture, but it has to remain limited—but as a living organism that comes from Christ himself...Only when certain conditions are present, when tradition has been clarified and he knows that he is not acting arbitrarily, can the Pope say: This is the faith of the Church—and denial of it is not the faith of the Church."


Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mediatrix of all Graces, may his successor that he be at least as CAREful.

wretchedwithhope said...

here's a concise take:

When Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 264th successor to St. Peter back in April 2005, he said in his first homily as Pope, “pray for me that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

http://www.churchmilitant.tv/scripts/vort-2013-02-10.pdf

wretchedwithhope said...

p.s. check out this photo:

http://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2013/02/11/foto/dimissioni_papa_fulmini_su_san_pietro_la_foto_simbolo-52433445/1/#1

taken of a lightning strike atop St Peter's over the past 24 hours.

pearl said...

I know Medjugorje is not top of the Vaticans list at present, but what happened to the now shelved pronouncement to be made on Medjugorje. I hope this isn't going drag on forever!


My heart felt prayers to Pope Benedict who is one of the wisest & most cultured and educated men in the world, I shall miss him.

John Simlett said...

How sad am I? I love the statistic!
David Joyce (herewith) does even more with the 'numbers'!

As if it should really matter! But thanks for the statistical slant. love it.

It is strange how the whole thing has attracted the attention of so many non-Catholics.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Does this Pope have a confused understanding of the Petrine ministry? One wonders if the problem with the infallibility statement of the 1st Vatican Council caused a problem for the contemporary Church as it has developed from Vatican II?

This business of publishing books whilst Pope, for example, books expressing a “personal view”. It’s as if the Pope is using the infallibility clause to self-consciously divide the papacy into fallible and infallible parts. It might be more accurate to say that Benedict has declared his entire papacy to be “fallible”. This serves only to compound the disorientation of the faithful brought on by Vatican II itself. Even the motu proprio is a mess. It came with an accompanying document (letter to bishops) contradicting the MP itself. This resignation indicates yet more muddled thinking.

My own view is that the Cardinals should follow the example of their predecessors in the 15th century who did NOT elect a successor to Gregory XII – the last Pope to resign. Let’s leave the see vacant. Such is the state of the Church, there is no point in having a Pope at the moment. Let Benedict XVI die in peace and bury him then as Pope then summon a conclave in the normal way. We need a break and so does the poor Holy Spirit whose guidance we continue to ignore.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"... In his homily he said that a younger Pope will be needed to take on the Vatican bureaucracy..."

Saint Patrick was 60 when he converted Ireland.

He lived to be 120.

God grants graces and blessings to those in whom He is well pleased.

Peter II is on his way.


*






JARay said...

"We need a break..." says Sede Vacantist!
"Speak for yourself" say I.
"Behold, I am with you until the end of the world" said Jesus.
That's the way it is going to be and we will have a Pope until that time comes, also.
Look at the mess other ecclesial communities get into without the guidance and stability of an authority (or magisterium) at the top.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Sadie Vacantist: Goodness me! The Pope has always been able to distinguish between fallible and infallible statements. If he says "It looks like rain" that is not an infallible statement!

As for " the disorientation of the faithful brought on by Vatican II itself". Well as an ordinary layman I never remember a single priest ever referring to the texts of Vatican II and I am afraid I never read them. However all sorts of strange things happened and we were frequently told that such and such was in the spirit of VII. Recently with the fiftieth anniversary it has been suggested that we read the texts and I am slowly doing this. I am astonished by what I read as they seem to have nothing to do with that spirit of VII. Lumen Gentium has a very clear exposition about infallibility, councils and the magisterium quite contrary to what one often hears from the pulpit. It has been the misrepresentation of VII with priests putting forward their own agenda as having the blessing of VII and not VII itself that is the problem.

Sadie Vacantist said...

It seems a strange development of the Papacy that the Supreme Pontiff can write books and deliver lectures in secular universities then claim afterwards that he was expressing a personal point of view. This is a source of confusion to the faithful. The Summorum Pontificum is a further example of the confusion. An accompanying letter to bishops is used by his brother bishops to ignore the original SP!

There is an argument that if the Pope continues to be disrespected and ignored then we are for all intents and purposes in a sede vacante situation and have been for decades. It might be argued that entire hierarchies are now in schism.

My suggestion is to recognise the above reality and use the opportunity granted to us by our Holy Father’s abdication to formally declare the see of Rome vacant for an extended period. Typically until Papa Ratzinger’s own natural death. The break would do us all some good and represent more accurately where we are as a Church. The pause would also serve to shrink the College and the management layer in general which is never a bad move in any organisation.