Welcome new pope, but let’s not forget Benedict

Kate Livingstone. New background.
Kate Livingstone. New background.

ON Tuesday I watched the inauguration Mass for the new Pope.

I’m not overly religious, but there are moments when history is being made and I’m like a moth to the flame.

I must admit I like this Pope Francis.

Since he was elected as His Holiness, there have been many reports about how he enjoys the simple life.

There was a funny story about how, during a business trip, he insisted on returning to his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay his own bill.

Imagine being the employee behind that particular reception desk.

And no doubt the Popemobile will seem over indulgent compared to his transport of choice - the humble bus.

But while his election has been an event of great importance and hope for the Catholic Church, am I alone in thinking about Pope Benedict?

For most of us, his resignation was a complete shock.

However, I couldn’t commend his bravery enough.

Imagine taking a decision like that, especially since there has not been another like it for over 600 years.

I’m a woman of habit, and in general I pretty much like things to stay the same, particularly if things are going well.

Taking a decision to serve anything for dinner except spaghetti bolognese or fish and chips on a Friday night is radical for me.

But for Benedict, things were obviously not going well in terms of his health, and what he did shows a true greatness of character and a commitment to his church.

He was the only one who could make that decision, and he was the only person who could judge if he was no longer fit for the task.

However, what inevitably followed was almost unheard of - a Pope being elected while his predecessor lives on.

I think no matter what your age or role, you would always be a bit intimidated by what the person who used to wear your shoes thinks of how you’re performing.

Some years ago, I remember working in an office where a long-serving member of staff was preparing for retirement.

My employer at the time thought it might be helpful for her successor to shadow her for a while so she could adapt quickly.

It was frankly uncomfortable for everyone; there was a lot of eye-rolling from the new start as Margaret insisted on how things should be done and much head-shaking from Margaret as she reviewed Megan’s different way of working.

People are different, with varying personalities and gifts, and comparing individuals, particularly Popes, is downright unfair and ultimately pointless.

However, in the case of the Pope - or Popes - I do believe Benedict walked through his papacy in red Prada shoes.

I doubt the frugal Pope Francis would see the appeal.