The amount of wishful thinking Catholics are capable of can at times only be called staggering.
The last one I have read about is that the Blessed Virgin might have appeared to the Holy Father requesting that he steps down. Allow me to share with you a couple of thoughts about this theory.
1. The thinking here seems to be “I do not agree with the Pope’s decision. The Pope can never do something wrong. Therefore, it must have been told by the Blessed Virgin”. If you ask me (which you do, because you are still reading…) there is a good deal of Clericalism here, and – hoping not to be offensive for anyone – more than a hint of Papolatry. When Protestants mock us for such outlandish ideas, I can’t say they are wrong.
2. It appears more than a couple of people were not paying attention when the Holy Father issued his historic statement on the 11 February. In it, the Holy Father speaks clearly of his lack of spiritual energy.
Such a heavily loaded statement cannot be simply ignored. It is inconceivable that the Pope would not know that to have to cope with age is rather common for a Pope. Therefore, he is humble and honest enough to tell the real reason of his abdication. Again, it is staggering even after the Holy Father says in the plainest words imaginable what the reason for his abdication is, there are those simply unable to deal with brutally straight facts.
3. Let us now assume (which we should not do, unless we want to take the Blessed Virgin as hostage for everything we cannot explain or approve) for a moment that the Blessed Virgin really appeared to the Holy Father requesting that he steps down: would this not be an extremely offensive statement towards the Holy Father? In this constellation, it is clear Pope Benedict is both completely useless and dangerously stubborn, to the extent that no less than an apparition of the Blessed Virgin becomes necessary to move him to do the right thing. It is also – always if you ask me – doubly insulting, because it also presupposes the Pope is utterly unable to see the reality around him and make important decisions for himself.
4. The Pope is almost 86; had a number of bypass surgical operations; is obviously becoming more and more frail, and has been for a while. It is not clear to me why Heaven should feel the need of anything so extreme as a Marian apparition to, erm, well, terminate his employment contract in the usual manner.
Summa summarum, it seems to me at times Catholics are more than a bit carried away, to the point of ever theorising Marian apparitions no interested party has mentioned or even hinted at.
Personally, I would suggest a more robustly realistic approach, based on the simple reality that an indecisive Pope has recognised he is not fit to lead the Church in these turbulent and utterly disturbing times. Once again, we should admire his honesty and courage rather than recur to supernatural events to explain what we do not approve.
A Pope can abdicate.
Get over it.