BY ELIZABETH WONG
It has come at last. After two and a half strange and bittersweet weeks, it has come. Pope Benedict XVI has resigned.
It was such a sudden announcement that nobody knew how to respond. The responses varied from foreboding predictions of the End Times (despite the Catholic theology that teaches we cannot know "the day nor the hour"), to conspiracy-style commentary from media voices about "politics" in the Vatican.
It varied from simple sadness that our beloved Benedict is departing, to random humor due to no one knowing how to react (comedian Steven Colbert's chaplain, Father James Martin, on "the pope 'raising the bar' when it comes to giving up things for Lent.")
It also varied from the worldwide voices on the most likely papal "candidates," to "where will Benedict go now?"
Answers to some of these questions came readily enough, such as the confirmation that he will retire to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, and that no, the Vatican didn't force him to resign, he did it out of his free will and something called discernment. As Father John Hollowell of "On This Rock" blog pointed out, "For their own sanity, (the media just has) to believe that it really is a bunch of cardinals who are fighting for the job and politicking and paying each other off with promises of Vatican treasures."
If my feelings are anything like the average person, I've only just been able to register all that is going on. It's probably better that way—Benedict announced his resignation suddenly, but he did give us just enough time to calm our spinning heads, get back on our feet and prepare to welcome his successor.