Guess what Joseph Ratzinger - aka Pope Benedict 16th - is doing for Lent?
Nothing. He gave up his night and day job a few days before Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. Good timing.
Maybe one or two services to officiate before month's end, but two-weeks' notice isn't bad after seven years of leadership.
He is retiring and taking time to relax and enjoy life a bit, his way, in reading and prayer in a quiet monastery or residential convent somewhere close by in Vatican City.
I hope the Curia leaves him a pension.They probably hadn't thought about that. Will he have spending money?
"Deserves it," many say about his leave-taking; others are critical and say "about time."
He did a credible thing - letting go of prestige and power to others, as a church authority noted, when he got too tired and unwell.
Smart, but also a humble thing to do.
2005 to 2012 is not a bad run for anyone.
Let the Popemobile go - he doesn't need it anymore, a cane works.
More time for reading and no speeches and papers to read or write.
No crowds to wave to and smile and bless. No more bishops and cardinals to deal with.
He did his bit - better or badly, worse or well, depending on your point of view.
Being a church leader is not for the faint of heart, nor a popularity contest. ( "I liked this one better than the last one," or vice versa.)
He should not have trusted his butler, either - what a petty betrayal.
Pax Vobiscum. Peace, be with you, brother.
So reader, what are you doing during lent for the next 40 days or so ?
Moving out of the Vatican might be a chore, but at least Benedict will have lots of friendly help in a few weeks. But no tailgate party with a few beers and an Italian pizza with friends, at least not in public.
I thought he might go back to his home in Germany and become Joseph again, but Italy is warmer in winter.
He deserves a rest and a quiet retirement.
John O. Powell,