We know that all possible and probable governments in this country would like to extend your working lives before you can retire on a state pension from age 60/65 to 70 years. The Church is already way ahead of the State in this matter, and thinks its clergy should retire at the age of 75 years. Of course, for illness, retirement can be at any time. But if you are still able to draw breathe and walk a fairly straight line at the age of 75, then you are required by Canon Law (the laws of the Church) to offer your resignation to the Bishop (and likewise the Bishop to the Pope). The Bishop (or the Pope) does not have to accept the resignation and a priest can work on till he drops, if he so wishes. Consequently, since I am approaching the magic age, I offered my resignation to His Lordship but made sure that he knew that I did not wish to give up work.
His reply is as follows: “Thank you for letting me know that you will be reaching your 75th birthday on May 2nd 2010 and I thank you for informing me well in advance. I am pleased that you are more than willing to remain at Barnard Castle and that you feel quite capable of continuing your ministry there, so I shall not be demanding your resignation in May of next year just because you have reached your 75th birthday, but I do think it would be a good idea if we review your situation on an annual basis when your birthday approaches.”
So there we are: unless the Almighty decides otherwise, all settled until 2011!