What If Our Prophet Resigned?


St Michael Catholic ChurchWe’ve just moved to a predominantly Catholic community. While it’s still too cold in St. Michael, Minnesota, to get out and meet our neighbors, this view from our front yard tells me a lot about their faith.

Our close proximity to the beautiful St. Michael Catholic Church brought home the reality of the news that the Pope, the leader of Catholics worldwide, would resign at the end of the month.

I encouraged my chldren on the way to school to ask their new classmates about their feelings on the announcement and to do so respectfuly, if the topic came up.

Meanwhile, I wondered,  What if our prophet resigned? What would that look like? How would we react?

As an active Mormon, I  cherish, respect and follow the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Thomas S. Monson. I imagine the faithful Catholics I know feel the same way about the Pope.

The similarities between the two men in age and circumstance prompted a valid comparison.

Responsibility. While there certainly aren’t as many Mormons (almost 14.5 million) as Catholics (1.2 billion), they both lead large, world-wide Christian religions.

Age and experience. Both are 85 and have served God most of their life.

Time in office. Both became leaders at the head of their respective faiths within the last ten years. In fact, the very month of this announcement of the Pope leaving office marks the five year anniversary of President Monson taking the office of President of the Church.

Change and Direction. In their leadership, both men had to modernize the communication tools they used to fit the time, address controversial topics, and provide direction for the future while still maintaing the integrity of the doctrine and values of the Church.

Finding commonality between our leaders helps both Mormons and Catholics to start conversations, like the one I encouraged my children to have, and find common ground between our faiths.

But what about the differences? Could our prophet resign?

I imagine he could, but I doubt that he would.

Chosen Long Ago. The road to leadership as the President of the Church begins years, if not decades, before it occurs. President Monsoon will have served 50 years in October of this year as an Apostle of the Lord. He was 36 when he was set apart to this office. (See biography here.)

Orderly Succession. The path to become the Pope will be discussed at length in the coming weeks. Essentially, as I understand it, Cardinals meet in secret and elect the next pope. In our church, a new president is not elected by his peers or by the membership of the church. When the president dies, the leadership is held by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with the president of that quorum becoming the next prophet.

Chosen by God. With this manner of determining who will be God’s mouthpiece on Earth to lead His Church, (see Amos 3:7) campaigning doesn’t exist. That must alter the mindset that a prophet of God might have about his role, even if he were aged and infirm. With no disrespect for the Pope’s decision, I believe the President of our Church would continue to serve by the will of God.

Finally, I take comfort from President Monson own recent statement, not about the pope’s decision, but a message of encouragement to mark  his five-year anniversary service, He said,

Age eventually takes its toll on all of us. However, we join our voices with King Benjamin, who said, as recorded in the second chapter of the book of Mosiah, “I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen … and consecrated by my father, … and have been kept and preserved by [the Lord’s] matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me” (Mosiah 2:11). Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the Church is in good hands. The system set up for the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve assures that it will always be in good hands and that, come what may, there is no need to worry or to fear. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we worship, and whom we serve, is ever at the helm.


1 Comment

  1. David Jensen
    Feb 13, 2013

    That was a very interesting comparison and coming at a time as a new Pope will be chosen

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