Today I awoke to here that Pope Benedict has decided to resign. I am sad. I really have a great deal of admiration for him and his work. I saw him a couple of times in Rome and Germany. (which is where I took these pictures) Each time I saw him I was struck by the depth of his wisdom and knowledge. While no one would argue that he was a dynamic speaker his humble demeanor spoke volumes. And his talks or homilies where incredibly packed with faith. His resignation today came with surprise as far as the day but as far as him deciding to resign it is not that surprising. He has spoken on this subject in the past and in the last couple of weeks he has done some things that Popes normally do toward the end of their papacy. Like filling out the College of Cardinals and naming close advisers as bishops. The Vatican announcement a couple weeks ago about World Youth Day did not promise his attendance at the event. So looking back there have been some signs.
I think it is fascinating to put this resignation into the context of him being a cardinal under John Paul II. He was one of the leading cardinals at that time and he would have seen John Paul II suffer and see in some ways how the Church might have benefited from more active leadership. This is certainly not to deny the fact the John Paul II’s suffering was not beneficial and good for the Church to experience and see but what Benedict XVI’s has done is also just as strong a witness of humility to say the Church is bigger than me and it will go on, after all, the next Pope will be the 266th. Today is the feast day of our Lady of Lourdes, a devotion that is particular strong among the sick and ageing. It is not by chance that he made is announcement today.
While John Paul II was great, for me Benedict XVI’s writing and background as a teacher has helped me immensely in my own spiritual life and also given me a great guide as to how to approach teaching the faith. His gifts to the Church are many but I think his greatest will be his biblical writings, and his focus on the Second Vatican Council in light of continuity with what came before. I doubt that I will want to watch much of the news in the coming weeks as there will be endless speculation and talk that borders on slander. Instead I hope to make the soon to be Pope Emeritus and his successor part of my daily prayers. I hope you will join me. I could of course say more but my Archbishop said it all in this press conference. Check it out it, he covered all the bases.
St. Peter, pray for us.