Apparently I was mistaken. Popes can, in fact, resign, and apparently plenty have made arrangements (resignation letters, discussions with confessors, etc) in the event that such a step would become necessary as a result of illness or political strife.
When I read this article, I have to admit feeling like a jerk. Why? Well, our current Pope tends to rekindle my shameful reaction to his election as the successor to Pope John Paul II. He assumed the Papacy in April of 2005. I was 22, then, and was still in my "Eh... I know better than the Church" mode. I adored Pope John Paul II, and truly believed him to be a saint on earth. However, I didn't really follow Vatican news, and I certainly didn't care much to learn about the potential replacements for JPII. I mean, Pope John Paul II was the only pope I'd ever known (having been born in 83, JPII had been in office for about 5 years already). Consenting to accept Benedict as his replacement felt like a betrayal. I don't know if I assumed JPII would live forever or what, but the thought of anyone even attempting to fill a saint's shoes was ridiculous to me. And this guy (who in my opinion looked grumpy and slightly evil) was the guy they chose to replace him? C'mon now.
For years I held onto my stupid "opinion" of the new pontiff. I understood my stance to be mean and foolish, but I didn't care. I arrogantly grumbled about Pope Benedict XVI, never once looking into his background to find justification for my grumblings. I think I knew I wouldn't find much to justify my stupidity, so why ruin a good thing, right? *Shakes head*
Hence the source of my embarrassment. To think I was so mean about Pope Benedict XVI makes my heart hurt. After all, the Holy Spirit chose him for a reason, right? I hadn't come across Mutter Vogl's revelations regarding how we should never bad-mouth priests, so I didn't have the same twinge of "Oh my gosh, that's really, REALLY awful" when verbal ill-treatment of our new pontiff was waged, but I understood that my stance was completely (and willingly) unfounded, so when I had my "reversion" and was forced to learn more about Pope Benedict XVI and his work, I quickly realized my grievous error and now have a soft spot for him.
He had such a love for Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI's teachings truly reflect a brilliant, loving mind that is dedicated to upholding the values of our faith. I have come to admire him and even respect and love him for his courage and unrelenting support of the Truth.
So when I read today that there was a possibility of him resigning, I felt a little stab in my heart. Almost a "No, no, no, Father! Not when I just started warming up to you! Not when I finally realize everything you are and everything you have the potential to become!" Granted, a selfish stab in my heart, but a stab nonetheless. Then I felt a secondary stab that reflected my compassion for him. That decision would have to be extremely difficult on him as well, and no doubt he'd make it with a fully sober and prayerful mind. If he ever reaches the point where he feels incapable of leading the Church, no doubt he'd relinquish his position with a heavy heart... possibly feeling somewhat dejected for his fear that he had disappointed his Lord.
Oh, Pope Benedict... know that you are held in a perpetual hug by those of the faithful. May you find the will necessary to forge forward in your earthly pilgrimage. May you feel the Divine Strength of the Holy Spirit guiding every step you take. May you hear the Heartbeat of Jesus as He hugs you close to Himself to comfort you. And finally, may you see the maternal protection of Our Lady surround all you do. She is your greatest advocate, dear Father. May we, the faithful, be blessed to have you reign for many, many years.
My current love for him shames my previous arrogance towards him and I almost want to cry for such ignorance. I truly pray that I someday atone for such arrogant behavior.
And just because it's fitting, here's a link that might be viewed as hilarious if it weren't so true...