I’m making a brief reflection on the Pope’s decision this morning, speaking for all of us at Catholic-link, I would like to thank our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for his strength, his courage, and his love. This man, weak and frail, has drawn me closer to Christ.
His writings have nourished my soul, challenged my intellect to reach high, and demanded of me a greater decision to live for holiness. For me, the way that Christ has worked through our Holy Father, is a sign of his love for me, for every Catholic, and for every human soul in this world.
In the following weeks–and it has already begun–we will turn our attention to the news. There, the question of why will sprout up everywhere. We will find ourselves immersed in an ocean of speculation, of questions, and ambiguous answers. Each will have their own interpretation and, unfortunately, some may try to take advantage of this moment in order to advance their own ideas–caring little for the man, Pope Benedict XVI.
In the middle of this, I would like to point out one aspect of Pope Benedict’s words that I believe offer us a key to understanding and living out this moment.
The Holy Father declared this morning: “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
Many have stressed the latter parts of this phrase: the frailty of advanced age and the rigorous demands of the Petrine ministry. I, on the other hand, believe that the key to it all is to be found in the first part of the phrase: the examination of conscience before God. Let us remember that the conscience is “the place that God speaks to us” (GS 16). It is there, then, before God, prostrated before his feet, totally dependent on his mercy and wisdom, that our Holy Father has listened to God, discerned His Plan, and responded according to how he saw fit. Although many will try, there is no comparison between this decision and the decisions of so many Popes before him. God’s Plan is unique for each one of us –including the Pope–and to try and resolve any and all perplexities that might arise is simply foolish.
This, to me, is a source of great reassurance and strength. From what I have read, heard, and seen of this man, everything speaks to me of a person that God has touched, transformed, and brought towards a plenitude of joy and love like few others. I am confident that Pope Benedict has each one of us close to his heart and in his prayers as he makes this decision.
The why behind the Holy Father’s decision is to be found in the encounter between him and our Lord. As such, let us be sober and humble in our questions and search for clear answers! Let us enter into a moment of silence and thanksgiving for his legacy before we launch anxious questions of the future! Let us pray constantly for our Holy Father! And, above all, let us take advantage of this time to respond to the invitation that our Holy Father made to us some months ago: to grow in faith!
Here I will leave the Holy Father’s discourse in its entirety. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
11 February 2013
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 bark 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.
BENEDICTUS PP XVI