Long-time readers of this blog and those with whom I have developed a friendship know that I am not Catholic. Some will, based on many of my posts, find this surprising. I have long felt myself drawn sentire cum ecclesia and I well remember watching the final days of Pope John Paul II and the exciting news about the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as his successor. If ever there was a pope with whom a passionate and scholarly Christian could have identified, it was Pope Benedict XVI. Although not a Catholic, I found myself drawn to him. I savored his writings. I followed his activities. I thrilled at his efforts to fight heterodoxy and downright heresy. I prayed fervently for him.
And when my wife called me as I drove to work this morning and told me the news, my jaw fell open, and just as I am sure it was with the disciples on the Saturday after the crucifixion, my heart broke...for me. You see, I had always hoped that if I were to swim the Tiber, it would happen in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Now I know that will not happen.
In the days to come, I shall pray fervently for the wisdom of God through His Holy Spirit to guide the cardinals in conclave. I shall ignore the foolishness of the mainstream media, watching instead EWTN and reading the news on New Advent. I shall try to turn over to God my fears and anticipatory anger over what I know will be hateful comments from liberal branches of the Church. The final days of this pontificate and the days of conclave will, thankfully, force me once again to trust in God's provision. I shall endeavor to put aside anxiety over cardinals who may feel pressured to elect a pope based on ethnicity and, no matter the outcome, I shall trust God that no one will occupy the seat of Peter whom He has not chosen, even as I am mindful that such a one can still, out of his own free will, sin and lead poorly.
And yet tonight there is a sadness in this Evangelical's heart, for I have respected and loved this pope, even being tempted in his early days to purchase one of the many products proclaiming, "I Love My German Shepherd." I can only pray that God will bless us with a man of such faith and intelligence, one who truly saw only Christ and strove to achieve, regardless of any other opinion, what was best for His Church.