I have so many emotions following the announcement of Pope Benedict’s retirement from the Papacy. Sad, so sad to lose this Papa who has stood so firmly for the deep, dynamic truths of the Catholic faith and liturgy. Who has spoken so eloquently, urging us to hold tight to the live-giving truth of Christ in the modern battles against secularism and despair. Who has been, I believe, above all a Pope, an evangelist, of Love.
I only wish right now I had the time to read the full text of Deus Charitas Est, the encyclical this quote comes from. Perhaps that will be my “positive resolution” (versus the “negative” of giving something up — with heavy quote marks on “negative”! meaning only a lack, not a “bad thing”) this Lent… a few pages a day.
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
But above all, I feel a great calling–especially with this clear timing at the beginning of Lent, our shared time of introspection, humility, and offering up–to trust in the Church and the Holy Spirit guiding her, that our Papa’s prayerful decision is truly for our best good–plans for our welfare, and not for woe–and that our Church has great things in store.
As our own Cardinal Dolan said, “”The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St Peter.”