A Grand Exit – The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has officially announced that he is resigning. If you have not read the official resignation letter, here it is:
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.
We can speculate until the cows come home about the specific reasons why our beloved Pope is stepping down. This blog is not about that. Though his resignation is unprecedented in recent history, it is not unheard of within Church history. The truth stands that Pope Benedict is a deeply wise man, steeped in prayer, and firm in orthodoxy. He knows what he is doing. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he stood by the late Blessed John Paul II all the way to his death. Though dying, John Paul II’s mental faculties were impeccable. In his final moments, it was like watching a soul drag a body behind it. Pope Benedict saw that. He sees the necessity of having a Pope who is mentally and physically able to carry out the Petrine ministry, and therefore states “in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary.” Pope Benedict sees that in this particular moment in history, a vigilant and strong Pope is needed.
I have been watching the feeds regarding the Pope’s resignation and it is interesting reading what can only be described as “useless anxiety”. People are worried about the next Pope. They are making all sorts of accusations and claims, which are really unnecessary. The truth is, the Holy Spirit has this one. He’s had it all along. For 2,000 years the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has survived and thrived. She’s dealt with scandals, schisms and reformations, Anti-Popes, and even VATICAN II (Just kidding – just trying to appeal to our SSPX readers -thought it might help our page views). We have been through it all and then some. The Pope resigning, though very sad because he is an amazing Pope, is not the end of world, nor should it be a cause for fear. We believe that the Holy Spirit guides and protects the conclave in their decision making. Even if an anti-Pope were to show up (though that won’t happen), he would not be able to teach anything contrary to the Truth in regards to faith and morals. We have received that promise. Do not be afraid!
If you are still uneasy about the next Pope, you should read my post about the Pope’s draft picks for Cardinals. The truth is, Pope Benedict has been installing solid Cardinals during his entire Pontificate. From a practical standpoint, if we were to exclude the whole Holy Spirit being in charge part, the possibility of electing someone who would not hold similar views as Pope Benedict is very slim. Needless to say, DON’T WORRY.
On Facebook this morning, Fr. Paul Nicholson of the Diocese of London provided a very keen insight when he stated,
The usual form of electing a Pope is done in the truth that the Church is “forcing” the Holy Spirit to act. It does this because the Pope is dead. It has to compel the Holy Spirit to act. The Church is an orphan, a fatherless child. This situation seems to compel the Holy Spirit which begs the question: is it necessary? I might say, that the Holy Father knows the depth of the crisis in the Church. He believes we must compel the Holy Spirit to act.
The truth is, this is what is going to happen. Our Blessed Lord has ensured that the Church will not be left orphaned. So let us simply pray and fast for our future Pope, knowing that whatever God wills for His Bride will be for her benefit. Pray too for Pope Benedict, that as he transitions to his new life, that he may find peace and joy there, especially in the midst of whatever suffering is to come.
The first reading from the Mass on February 28th, 2013 – the day when Pope Benedict XVI officially resigns is quite apt and I conclude this post with it:
Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.
God love Pope Benedict XVI.