Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard the astonishing announcement that Pope Benedict XVI is retiring/resigning at the end of the month?  Here’s his statement on the matter.

I must confess that when I first heard mention of his name on the NPR nooz update, I had a chilling split-second in which I thought his death was being reported.  The poor man has been looking increasingly frail and weak over the past few months, and I’ve found myself dreading such surprise stories about him.  Thank God it wasn’t as bad as that.

So I suppose this means we’ll be getting a new Pope for Easter?  This will be terra incognita for ol’ Robbo – I’ve never been through a Papal succession, having come aboard only five years ago.   It’s no secret that one of the factors that influenced my own conversion was my admiration for Benedict’s theological scholarship.  I’m not sure at that point whether I would have been as attracted by a more charismatic, less academic Pontiff, because at the time I was struggling primarily with the crisis of recognizing just how shallow and empty the remains of Episcopal theological reasoning had become.   However, I like to think that I’m secure enough in my faith now that I can take anything that the College of Cardinals chooses to serve up.

Of course, there will be a great deal of (mostly ill-informed) speculation in the MSM and elsewhere about Benedict’s successor.  Stand by for a steady drum-beat for the Vatican to choose somebody more “liberal”, “modern” and “with the times”, meaning a Catholic In Name Only who will bow down to the secular world and, to the extent he actually holds orthodox beliefs, keep them  to himself.   Ain’t gonna happen, of course, not with the work JPII and B16 have done between them clearing out the last of the aging, Paul VI-era, liberal clutter.

I do hope, however, that the next Pontiff has more of a flair for public relations, is better able to articulate orthodoxy in popular language.  He’ll certainly have an enormous task.  Yesterday I found myself behind a Cadillac sporting a bumper sticker that read, “I Support Separation of Church and Hate”.    Ziiiiiing!   I’m pretty sure the ex-hippie driving was not thinking of Islam when she slapped it on her bumper.