It is not everyday that a Pope resigns. The last time it happened was nearly 6 centuries ago: during the Great Schism, with three Popes contending for the seat of Peter. It took two years for that seat to be filled.
Benedict XVI’s resignation could forebode ominous clouds or be just a simple matter of human frailty. As Benedict fades into the background, the news today is abuzz with Pope Francis the First, elected in record time.
The Argentine Jorge Bergoglio takes on the name of 13th century Francis of Assisi, showing his views on simplicity and care for the poor. There is some continuity as this pope is no liberal theologian, given the efforts of Pope Benedict against it.
From a biblical perspective, someone who stays closer to the scriptures is preferred to one who follows the counsel of men instead. That said, the comparison of Pharisees and Sadducees from the times of Jesus helps illustrate the difference between theological acuity and the Gospel.
While the liberal Sadducees had little in common with Jesus, the Pharisees did not get Jesus’ approval because they were more conservative theologically. Rather, they found the most severe vituperation from Jesus since they appeared right on the outside, but prevented others from entering the kingdom of God.
So, when you think of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, how do you think God views them? The world is concerned with church scandals and contemporary relevance for the new leader. What issues are central to God? We will continue our exploration of the new papacy next time.