As the clock strikes 8 p.m. on February 28, 2013, Rome time, the Chair of Peter will no longer be occupied by a successor of Peter. The sedecavantist movement may say, "Like we've been saying all along."
Many unanswered questions linger, such as what will Benedict XVI's proper title will be. (The leading theory is that he'll continue to be called Your Holiness in the way governors, speakers of the House, and presidents are called by those official handles in perpetuity.)
As odd and disturbing as the papal news was when it was announced, I trust in the discernment and decision of this wise and humble servant of servants of God. He had to know just how world-rocking such a decision would be. So God bless him richly.
Still, I wonder what others wonder: Isn't the pope supposed to be a father? Don't fathers stick with the job until death? Will this start a trend of tired popes calling it quits to work on their golf game? Is the papacy a matter of term limits?
Indeed, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary to the late Bl. Pope John Paul II, caused a stir last week with his remark, reported by Reuters, that the late Holy Father stuck it out until the last moment because he believed that "you cannot come down from the cross."
None of us is privy to the inner workings of the decision made by soon-to-be-former Pope Benedict XVI. Not even Paul Harvey would have known "the rest of the story." What we do know is that the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals in the conclave. Once again, he'll surprise us with a gift that will make us happy.
By Easter, we'll have a new Holy Father even as we pray with gratitude for the old one.
When our progressive brethren screech and moan over that choice—and when, contra the sedevacantists, the Chair of Peter has a pope sitting upon it again—let's keep our schadenfreude levels at near zero.
It's bad form otherwise.