“I am old but can still do my job”.
The pope uttered these words during the meeting with Fidel in front of the cameras and this statement will put to rest the rumours which have been spreading for months about his possible resignation when he turns 85 (which will be soon) or at the end of the Year of The Faith in 2013.
But the truth is that he means to carry on despite old age.
In the book length interview “Light of the World” two years ago the pope himself had mentioned the possibility of stepping down, which is allowed by Canon Law.
“When a pope becomes clearly aware of not being able to physically, mentally and spiritually fulfil his role then he has the right and in some cases the duty to step down”.
Pope Ratzinger wanted to share with these words his favourable opinion towards resignation in certain circumstances.
Last September however a rumour started going around in and out of the Vatican concerning a possible planned resignation, not connected with any debilitating disease.
In the last weeks the theory has been rehashed by the director of Foglio, Giuliano Ferrara.
“A pope who decides to step down” wrote Ferrara “because he believes he has a spiritual duty to support renewal and a fresh approach that does not invalidate his mandate, but actually adds worth to it, has indirectly the power to influence with more mettle and determination his succession”.
Basically to resign can be a way for the pope to take centre stage and re-launch the papacy as an institution which today is considered “weak and too “penitent” even by some important supporters”
Benedict XVI did consider resigning. To believe he will step down to renew the papacy as an institution and maybe influence his succession is far from pope Benedict’s sensitivity and from the Church tradition.
A pope, who about to turn 85, has the strength to spend a week visiting Mexico and Cuba, can still fulfil his role. Many believe that through vulnerability and calling for more humility the “penitent” pope Benedict XVI is manifesting his prophetic strength in today’s world.