Should John Paul II have retired because of his infirmity?


Full Question

Recently a priest told me that John Paul II should have stepped down much earlier because having someone as pope who was "practically drooling" and not able to "do his duties" hurt the Catholic Church in front of the world. What do you think?

Answer

John Paul II considered his continuation in office to be an acceptance of the cross given him by Christ. He responded to suggestions that he resign by saying, "Christ didn’t come down off the cross." John Paul’s service to the end demonstrated to the world that the papacy is about more than efficiency. It is a call to service and a call to suffering. Not for nothing did Benedict XVI call the possibility of his own election "this guillotine" and pray to be spared it.


Michelle Arnold