Elmore Leonard Sees Pope As Too Young to Quit: 'What If He Gets His Second Wind?'

A Metro Detroit expert on aging well shares sharp thoughts about the pope's voluntary retirement.

In a New York Times commentary datelined Bloomfield Village, novelist Elmore Leonard observes:

Pope Benedict XVI resigned because he lacked the strength to continue at his age, 85. I’m a couple of years older, and still banging out novels because I love doing it. Doesn’t Benedict still love being the pope? . . . What if he gets his second wind?

Elmore LeonardLeonard recalls his Catholic roots ("went to Mass every day in grade school and high school") and being taught by Jesuits. including at the University of Detroit. 

I even taught catechism in the ’60s, although I just told stories for the most part.

In his familiarly wry style, Leonard pokes at a couple of traditions of "an "old boys' club," as he characterizes the Vatican.

One is "the smoke signals that indicate whether the cardinals have selected the next pope or are still working on it. Why not pick up the phone and tell us where they stand?"

Another is the gender barrier:

Tradition going all the way back to Peter says it’s a man’s job. But wouldn’t a woman, one who isn’t the least bit timid, be interesting in the role? Like a cool black nun who comes to the throne after 30 years doing God’s work with little recognition. She’d be the first pope in heels. Maybe from the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, in Harlem -- the real Sister Act. Get a singing, swinging sister to jazz up St. Peter’s Basilica. I guarantee people would tune in.

Read more:  The New York Times
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