Sister Sharon Holland reflects on Pope Benedict's resignation
The news of Pope Benedict's resignation elicited many reactions from Catholics around the world. Sister Julie and I had the opportunity to talk Sister Sharon, who served at the Vatican for 21 years, about her reaction. The following are highlights from the conversation. Click on this link to hear the full conversation with Sister Sharon Holland,
A Nun’s Life Ministry: What was your reaction to the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation?
Sister Sharon: I had a mixed reaction of sadness in a way-- because I have great respect for this Pope and I’ve met him personally and that makes a difference--and a great respect for his decision.
A Nun’s Life Ministry: What are some perspectives on the issue of whether a Pope could or should resign?
Sister Sharon: There’s a canon that says what you do in the event that a Pope resigns. He can resign as long as it’s free and it’s properly announced, and nobody has to accept the resignation. Even in his statement, it’s very carefully worded--he said he’s doing it freely….There’s great integrity in it, a great sense of putting the church before himself and whatever criticisms he’ll get… I think there’s a little reference back to John Paul II in saying he realizes that carrying out the work of the Holy See is also done by prayer and suffering. But his accent was that you need energy and strength of mind and body, and his are declining, and he thinks [his resignation] is best for the church.
A Nun’s Life Ministry: What can people do now?
Sister Sharon: I was just reading the Pope’s message for Lent. He talks a lot about charity. The Lenten message is, faith is believing in God’s love and then it becomes love or charity acting out of that whole cycle. One of his earliest encyclicals was along the lines of charity, and I think that’s something he has tried to promote in the church…Praying for the cardinals and praying for the church for greater communion, union--not uniformity, but communion in charity--would be a tribute to a legacy he’s given us.
A Nun’s Life Ministry: Recently Pope Benedict went on Twitter for the first time. Could you reflect on that in light of what it might mean in terms of his legacy to the church.
Sister Sharon: Sometimes he’s been accused of being negative about the modern world but it seems to me he’s moved right into and encouraged this era of technology and of using it for the gospel , using it for evangelization, using it for good….I think we’ve gained a lot from his short pontificate.