During his short time in the post Pope Benedict XVI was a particularly active pontiff, traveling the world on trips that would naturally exhaust the man who was the oldest to be elected to the position in 275 years when he assumed the papacy in 2005.
It was therefore understandable, although nonetheless shocking, when he announced his decision Monday to resign, citing his age and deteriorating strength.
His move should also serve as an example to other leaders, both in the clergy and in the political world, that sometimes the time has come to let others lead, rather than to continue on despite being too weak to do so.
There is perhaps nobody better to set an example for other leaders that doing your job justice means being able to operate at 100 percent. Any less than this is doing a disservice to those whom you lead and represent.
Leadership extends far beyond the individual, ultimately reflecting in the image of those who are led, and their society, and therefore it is up to the individual to make sure they are fully capable of the task.
The current pope must be remembered for his positive actions, not least the interest and time he has invested in the Middle East and its Christians, in particular in Lebanon.
This commitment was manifested in his visit to Lebanon in September of last year, a visit that was a continuation of that of his predecessor John Paul II, for whom Benedict served as a right-hand man, and his statement that Lebanon is not merely a country, but also a message.
The church is now facing a serious challenge, and it is one they can only address by voting in a new pope that will continue Benedict’s legacy and fill the void he has left, so the institution can look to new horizons and take a serious role in addressing the suffering of people around the world.
The selection of a new pope comes at a particularly volatile time, when the world needs the considered wisdom of the church and for it to take an active role in addressing the challenges several countries are facing. Benedict’s successor must be able to pick up swiftly from where he left off.
The positive side of Benedict’s resignation is that he was able to achieve so much at a time when the Catholic Church was embroiled in one of the most serious scandals it has ever faced.
The positivity and appreciation that has been expressed by leaders around the world after Benedict’s announcement is a testament to the great loss that the Catholic world, and beyond, expect will be felt after his departure.
However, the church has become accustomed to sailing in uncharted waters and still managing to reach a safe port. It is hoped that it will continue to do so in the selection of a new pope.