Saturday, March 14, 2015

Viva, viva Benedetto

An unremarked milestone was passed on the 16th of February: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI surpassed the lifespan of Pope Clement XII (who died aged 87 years 306 days), to become the second-longest-lived Pope, outranked only by Leo XIII (who died aged 93 years 140 days): since Georg Ratzinger is still alive, aged 91, God willing, Benedict may indeed live on to surpass that span too, come the 5th of September 2020. Benedict XVI would by now have reigned for over nine years, had he not unexpectedly resigned.

(But do note that Pope John XXII's age at death is uncertain: some sources claim he may have been as many as 89 years old.)

Meanwhile, as the joke has it, the priests of Rome pray at Mass "for Benedict our Pope and Francis our Bishop"! – today begins the third year of the pontificate of Papa Bergoglio, our Latin American leader (caudillo?) from the Silver Republic (that being the literal meaning of his homeland's name). I do hope his second Synod on the Family is less embarrassing and more fruitful than the first; at least he has his own right-hand-man in Cardinal Pell, with the skills (less common in southern Europe and similar places) necessary to reform the murky details of Vatican finances.

If, according to the ineluctable designs of Providence, our one-lunged Argentinian Supreme Pontiff should predecease our former German Shepherd (for after all, as St John Paul the Great opined, the Church ought breathe with both lungs), could a future conclave re-elect the Pope Emeritus, that the Church return to the Golden Age from its current Silver Age, so to speak? And, if so, would he be Benedict XVI & XVII? Or could he take an entirely new Papal name – Ignatius, perhaps? That would be most confusing.

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