Friday, March 15, 2013

After Infallibility: Post-Papal Blog?

As a magazine editor,  I once negotiated for weeks with the Vatican to publish a Christmas message for women bylined by the Pope.

That memory stirs speculation about any public afterlife for the first former Pontiff in modern history. Now that the white smoke has risen, must Benedict XVI retreat into total silence and meditation?

His Twitter account has been closed, but is there no place for him as a venerable figure similar to other retired world leaders?

If Dick Cheney is now instructing us on honor and duty, would the world not benefit from a more qualified voice on spiritual matters?  

We’re not talking a Comedy Central roast here but, as Benedict’s senior, I can testify to the sudden psychological altitude drop when “former” is added to your name. After the reality of irrelevance sinks in, it can give way to a wistful desire to reconnect with a life’s work and tease out its meanings in retrospect.

When Benedict XVI returns from his stay at Castel Gondolfo to new quarters at the Vatican, his successor may want to rethink any reflexive decision to entomb him there for his remaining days.

As a self-described “pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth,” what Benedict discovers may well be worth sharing.  

If a post-Papal blog is permitted, the perfect name is available: “After Infallibility,” which on second thought might also serve others with a lifetime of deeply held beliefs.

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