From his election on April 19th, 2005, until his last day in the holy office of St. Peter on February 28, 2013 (and of course before as a cardinal, archbishop, priest and seminarian, and layman!), Pope Benedict XVI had never stopped his immense love for and total self giving of the ONE HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH! Now we face these final hours of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI's blessed Pontificate. After 11am Pacific Time (8 pm Rome time), the See of Rome will be vacant. Thank you Holy Father for all the wonderful blessings you gave to the Church during your reign! May God grant you many long years as you serve him in a new, quieter way, and may Mary, Mother of the Church, be with you always, and lead you closer to her Son, Christ Jesus . Pope Benedict XVI: WE LOVE YOU!
"....I Am Not Abandoning the Cross But Remain in a New Way With the Crucified Lord..."
Thousands Bid Emotional Farewell To Pontiff in Final General Audience
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2013 (Zenit.org) - The sun shined brightly in Vatican City after several days of rain while Pope Benedict XVI greeted an estimated 150,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the final General Audience of his pontificate.
Amid shouts of “Benedetto” (Benedict) and “Viva il Papa” (Long live the Pope), the Holy Father circled St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile, as the crowds waved and tried to catch a glimpse of the Pontiff in his last public talk before he officially resigns from the papacy tomorrow.
The Pope expressed his heartfelt thanks to the faithful, stating that through their presence, he could see that “the Church is alive.” Reminiscing on the start of his pontificate, Pope Benedict said that he felt great trust knowing that the truth of the Gospel is the strength of the Church. “This is my trust, this is my joy,” the Pope said.
“When, on April 19 almost eight years ago, I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I felt this certainty firmly, and it has always accompanied me. At that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: Lord, why are you asking this of me and what are you asking of me? It is a great weight you are placing on my shoulders, but if this is what You ask, at your word I will let down the nets, confident that You will guide me, even with my weaknesses. And eight years later I can say that the Lord has truly guided me."
The Holy Father compared the moments of his pontificate to the experience of St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee, stating that while the Lord had given many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, “there were also times when the water was rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to sleep.”
“But I always knew that the Lord is in the boat, and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, not ours, but it is His. And He will not let her sink, it is He who leads it, certainly also through the men he has chosen, because so He has willed it. This was and is a certainty, that nothing can obscure. And that is why today my heart is filled with gratitude to God because He has never left me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love,” the Holy Father said.
Throughout the audience, many of the faithful including many of the cardinals, shed tears. The Pope thanked the Cardinals, particularly Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as well as the members of the Roman Curia, saying that “they have been a solid and reliable support for” him.
Courage to Make Tough Choices
Commenting on his resignation, Pope Benedict said that upon feeling his strength was decreasing, he asked God “to make me take the right decision not for my sake, but for the good of the Church.”
“I have taken this step in full awareness of its seriousness and also its novelty, but with profound peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make tough choices, difficult ones, having always before oneself the good of the Church and not oneself,” the Pope said.
The Supreme Pontiff said that he had experienced that one can receive life when it is given.
Speaking on life after his resignation goes into effect, the Pope stated that he could not return to a private life, nor spend his time travelling or attending meetings and conferences. “I am not abandoning the cross,” he said, “but remain in a new way with the Crucified Lord. I no longer carry the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter's bounds.”
“St. Benedict,” he continued, “whose name I bear as Pope, will be for me a great example in this. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.”
Pope Benedict thanked the faithful present for their “respect and understanding” in accepting his decision to resign from the Petrine ministry.
Concluding the General Audience, Benedict XVI asked the faithful to remember him in their prayers before God and, above all, “to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter: may the Lord accompany him with the light and the power of his Spirit.”
Benedict XVI to Be Referred to as "Roman Pontiff Emeritus" After Resgination Fr. Federico Lombardi Gives Details on Final Days of Pontificate
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY, February 26, 2013 (Zenit.org) - In a press briefing today at the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, answered what many have been asking since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation: What will his name be after he resigns?
"After he resigns, the Holy Father will be known as 'His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus or Roman Pontiff Emeritus,'" Fr. Lombardi said. The Holy Father will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta, the elbow length cape worn by popes. Satisfying the curiosity of many journalists, Fr. Lombardi added that the Holy Father has chosen to wear simple brown shoes which were given to him during his Apostolic Visit to Leon, Mexico, last year, and will not wear the traditional red shoes.
The director of the Vatican Press Office stated that over 50,000 tickets had been requested for the Holy Father's final general audience tomorrow morning, although he stated that thousands more are expected to attend. With the exception of the tour around the square in the popemobile and the exclusion of the brief personal greetings after the address, the audience will take place as normal.
Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that the exclusion of the personal greetings, or bacciamani, was not due to security concerns, but simply because there were too many people who wanted to greet the Holy Father personally.
After the general audience, Pope Benedict XVI will head over to the Clementine Hall and meet with several local and international dignitaries. Among them will be the presidents of Slovakia and Bavaria, and the co-prince of Andorra.
On the final day of his pontificate, the Holy Father will meet with cardinals who are present in Rome for the upcoming conclave. In the afternoon, the Holy Father will make his way to the heliport where he will bid farewell to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, as well as the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The Pope will then fly to the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo where he will be received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, the president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, respectively. Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano and civil authorities of Castel Gandolfo are also expected to be present. The Holy Father will then greet the faithful present from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace.
At 8:00 pm, when the time of Sede Vacante officially begins, the Swiss Guards, who are assigned to protect the Roman Pontiff, will take their leave. However, Fr. Lombardi said, the Vatican Gendarmerie will take over as Pope Emeritus' safety detail.
Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that Benedict XVI will no longer use the Fisherman's Ring, and instead will use an episcopal ring. The task of destroying the ring along with the lead seal of Benedict XVI's pontificate will fall to the Cardinal Camerlengo and his assistants.
After the Sede Vacante begins, Cardinal Sodano will send a letter to all the cardinals on March 1, summoning them to Rome for the conclave. Most likely, Fr. Lombardi said, "that the congregations will begin next week
BENEDICT XVI'S FINAL ANGELUS: THE LORD CALLS ME TO DEDICATE MYSELF MORE TO PRAYER, BUT I DO NOT ABANDON THE CHURCH
Vatican City, 24 February 2013 –
More than 200,000 people attended the final Angelus of Benedict XVI's pontificate. Looking up from St. Peter's Square, everyone--near and via television--were able to see a more relaxed and hope-filled Pope. The Holy Father was received with much applause and, before beginning his short meditation, responded saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.” He then commented on the Gospel reading for this second Sunday of Lent, which recounts the Transfiguration of the Lord.
“Luke the Evangelist places particular attention on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as He prayed. His is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a type of spiritual retreat that Jesus undergoes on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James, and John, the three disciples who are always present at the moments of the Master's divine manifestation.
The Lord, who had foretold His death and resurrection shortly before, offers His disciples an anticipation of His glory. Again at the Transfiguration, as at His Baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father: 'This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.' The presence of Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, is very important.
The entire history of the Covenant is directed toward Him, the Christ, who brings about a new 'exodus', not to the promised land, as in the time of Moses, but to heaven. Peter's exclamation, 'Master, it is good that we are here', represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience.
St. Augustine comments: “Peter … on the mountain ... had Christ as the Bread of his soul. Should he then depart from there to return to struggles and sorrows, while up above he was full of the holy love for God that inspired him to saintly behaviour?”
“Meditating on this Gospel passage, we can draw a very important teaching from it. First of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism. During Lent we learn to give the proper time to the prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life.
In addition, prayer is not an isolation from the world and its contradictions, as Peter would have wanted on Mt. Tabor. Instead, prayer leads to a path of action. 'The Christian life—I wrote in this year's Lenten Message—consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from Him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.'”
“I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way at this moment of my life. The Lord has called me to 'scale the mountain', to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church.
If God asks me this it is precisely so that I might continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to give up to now, but in a way more suitable to my age and my strength. Let us call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary: May she help all of us to always follow the Lord Jesus, in prayer and in works of charity.”
One of the most vivid memories that I have of my first year of studies in Rome was going to St. Peter’s Basilica on this day and seeing the famous bronze sculpture of Gianlorenzo Bernini, with the chair and the two “Bishop-Doctors” of the Eastern Church and the Western Church covered with lit candles. The sculpture houses an ancient wooden chair that was said to belong to St. Peter himself. This day, in a particular way, proclaims the reality of the teaching or “chair” of St. Peter in Rome. To help explain this, I would cite this explanation from the Loose Leaf Lectionary for Mass, published by Liturgical Press of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. For this feast day we find “The idea of a feast called the Chair of St. Peter may sound a bit odd in our English language. One might wonder what is particularly to be celebrated about a chair. But if we frame the consideration by beginning with the Latin word for chair, cathedra, today’s feast seems not just sensible, but significant. The cathedra is found in the cathedral; both the chair and that particular church building house the bishop. And the bishop, who is the chief teacher, speaks authoritatively from that chair. Thus, the Chair of Peter suggests to us the unifying office of the Bishop of Rome, traditionally esteemed to be the successor of St. Peter the Apostle”
This particular explanation ends with some words which now have more significance and poignancy than ever, given the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. This commentary ends in this manner: “So, the pope, as the bishop of bishops, has as his greatest responsibility to unite all the local Churches by the building of bridges. Thus, he is to be, as we read in the first letter of Peter, an example to the flock. We pray always that our current pope may have the inspired vision of Peter the Apostle who, though not always strong or heroic in the Gospels, is the first to recognize that Jesus was more than an inspired teacher. His faith prompts him to profess ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ May our faith echo that of faithful Peter.”
St. Peter’s profession of Faith is found in St. Matthew’s Gospel for today’s Mass [Mt 16:13-19]. Peter’s confession of Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God was the message that the apostles took to all parts of the world. Peter, as the first of the apostles, and the one who made that profession of Faith, took that to Rome from where he taught – his seat of teaching - and from where he was martyred and buried on the Vatican Hill. His most recent successor in our age, Pope Benedict XVI, has not ceased speaking of Him in his books, audiences and talks, and has taught us to do the same. This feast day of the Chair of St. Peter, with the candles that surround Bernini’s chair in the Basilica, give an eloquent testimony of the light of Christ through the teaching of the Bishop of Rome in every time, which will continue with the election of the new Bishop of Rome.
I would like to close this entry with some words of Pope Benedict XVI himself, on the occasion of his first homily as Pope. These words, it seems to me, reflect to us the light of all of those candles on the Chair of Peter today: “But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God’s light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God.” +Kevin W. Vann+
Pope Benedict XVI's papacy testifies to a churchman of scholarship and pastoral sensitivity. Born in a devout Catholic family and baptized the day he was born he felt one with the church from his earliest days. As a boy with his parents and brother and sister he visited the Bavarian shrine Our Lady of Atotting, a place he returned to as pope. There praying before the Black Madonna, as the smoke-charred linden wood image of Mary is called, he left at its base the ring he received from Pope Paul VI. His intense fervor for Mary showed clearly in 2008 at Lourdes, where he said: "When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence. We seek the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith. Who would be more intimate to us than Christ and His holy mother, the Immaculate One?"
While a reserved man, Pope Benedict's heart was touched by victim/survivors of child sexual abuse by clerics. On several visits, including his noted visit to the United States in 2008, he met personally with men and women whose lives were altered by the harrowing experience of abuse. He offered heartfelt comfort in the personal encounter and on the bureaucratic level he stiffened penalties for abusers and expanded the definitions of what constitutes sexual abuse to include child pornography.
When elected pope at 78 he quietly told friends that given his age and health he wouldn't be a globe-trotter. However, he quickly realized the best way to reach people was to go to them and he did, first to World Youth Day in Germany, just months after his election. In his first five years alone, he traveled to five continents, 14 countries, about 60,000 miles. He knew the power of the press and that if he went to desperate people in Africa, the media would follow. The eyes of the world might be opened to the scandal of poverty and the terrible distance between the rich and poor and their access to resources given by God for all.
As a scholar he brought a laser-like focus to his writings. His encyclicals, one of hope, Spe salvi. . . (In hope we are saved)and two others on love, Deus caritas est. . . (God is love) and Caritas in veritate. . . (Charity in truth) spoke simply of profound truths.
Spe Salvi. . . (In hope we are saved) presents Jesus as the source of the hope that the world desperately desires. The pope recognizes that no human means can adequately redress the heinous wrongs within human history, such as the Holocaust, natural calamities, war and terrorism; nor are there human means to bring forth total justice.
"No one and nothing can answer for centuries of suffering" the pope said. Yet he presents Jesus as the harbinger of hope. Pope Benedict assures us that with the coming of Jesus in glory there is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice. He reminds us that hope assures that every tear will be wiped away.
Caritas in Veritate. . . , a social encyclical, seamlessly weaves together what many consider polar opposites: spirituality and human progress, "life ethics" and "social ethics," justice and charity, personal ethical behavior and more just social structures, the concerns of rich nations and the needs of poor nations. The pope reminds humanity that the demands of love have both personal and social dimensions. Love applies to both "micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) and macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)." Pope Benedict critiques the excesses of markets without justice, supports increases in international assistance to poorer nations, calls for action on the structural causes of global hunger, champions the rights of workers and insists on fairer trade policies to help poor nations. He teaches that "the way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa."In other words, a society that finds people expendable will find nature expendable.He declares that "a lack of respect for the right to life" weakens the "conscience of society" and its grasp of "human ecology" and thus "environmental ecology."As he observes, "The book of nature is one and indivisible."
The first encyclical letter of his pontificate, Deus caritas est. . . , summarizes thye pope's teachings on love. He reminds us that all our actions as Christians must be informed by a clear understanding of our faith. "God's love for us is fundamental for our lives, and it raises important questions about who God is and who we are," he said. Since God has loved us first, love is less a "command" that the response to the gift of God's love.
For Pope Benedict, love encompasses the whole of human existence. Man needs to both give love and receive it as a gift. The Eucharistic communion, he says, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn. "A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented," he said.
An "intimate encounter with God" leads to a "communion of will" in which we learn to look at the other person from the perspective of Jesus Christ. The pope expresses beautifully what this means when he writes: "Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave."
Opening his pontificate with a letter on love was both a wise move and a true "act of love" for the Church, in which he showed he clearly understood his new role as the universal pastor. God's love is so fundamental to human existence that the pope did not hide in the opening statements the reason for this letter, which would set the tone of his pontificate: "to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others."
The unprecedented resignation by a humble man aware of the weaknesses of old age testified to his love of the church. When he felt he couldn't give the papacy everything that he saw was needed, he did what hadn't been done in about 600 years – he stepped aside for a life of prayer. The teacher and scholar choose another pastoral service to the church to whom he has given his entire life.
I had the blessing to be in Italy in August of 2005 for a vacation which had already been planned with some friends of mine before I was appointed Bishop of Fort Worth. I returned later in September for the “New Bishops” days of reflection, education and prayer in September. On both of those occasions, the excitement and welcome and love for Pope Benedict XVI already evident! I was in the courtyard of the Papal villa at Castelgandolfo waiting for his appearance at noon, when the crowds were chanting “BENEDETTO, BENEDETTO”. When he appeared at his window the cheering and warmth was clearly evident.
The following month of September I met him at an audience for the course for new Bishops. When he spoke to those of us newly appointed Bishops who were assembled, he quipped that “Maybe there should be a course for new popes” as well! On that occasion, when I said that I was the new Bishop of Fort Worth Texas, his instant reply was “ Texas…Muchos Hispanos”! That is, “many Hispanics” which shows to me his instant recognition of the life of the Church world wide. On another occasion, I presented him with a little question and answer book that I had written on the Sacrament of Marriage for Basilica Press in Irving, Texas. He thanked me, and said that “This is very important today.”
And, lastly, my experience this past March during the Region X “Ad Limina” visit, with the Bishops of the Province of San Antonio was a fraternal dialogue among brothers, with the added blessing of a sense of a professor with his students. He welcomed us to our meeting with the words “You are in the house of Peter, and this is your home..I would like to know about your Dioceses and your Province. With that each of us took a theme of pastoral ministry in the Province of San Antonio.
The Faith, prayerfulness, and humility of the man is the very same that I experienced on the times when I would be a St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning during my years in Rome and see him walking across the Piazza in a plain black cassock on the way to his office in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As a canonist in recent years, I also knew of the work of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith , which took over all of the processing of cases involving “canonical delicts” , that a more consistent and timely approach be given to these very difficult and often times tragic and sorrowful matters.
Given the “measure of the man” and from what I had seen and observed, I was surprised at this decision to leave the Office of the Bishop of Rome, but yet not surprised. Above all, we thank him for his consistent recalling out to us of that fundamental relationship with Jesus Christ, both as individuals and as the entire Church. His three books Jesus of Nazareth are a witness to that, among many other writings, have done that for so many.
God bless you Holy Father, “Benedetto”, and you have the prayers, love and support of so many here and beyond. Ad Multos Annos!
A few minutes after Mass had begun one recent Sunday, an elderly man with a cane slowly walked in the back door of St. Peter Chanel Church and attempted to kneel on a small kneeler near the door of the church.
Noticing the elderly man with his sombrero in his hands kneeling, a young father of two sent his daughter to the man to invite him to take his seat in a chair, which he did. The younger man then stood along the side of the church for Mass, near his wife and children.
When Oblate of the Virgin Mary Father Larry Darnell, pastor, heard of his parishioner’s kind and simple action, he was taken aback emotionally for a second. Then he smiled. “I think,” he exclaimed, “our people are wonderful!” And they are growing in number at this Hawaiian Gardens parish. Some 10,000 people, served by very active Oblate priests, attend nine weekend Masses (five in Spanish, four in English) in both the large “new” church built in 2000 and the much smaller “old” church. There is heavy emphasis on adult education, including a ten-week program of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius led by Father Ed Broom. He also hosts a local television show. Fellow associate pastors Father Craig MacMahon and Father Vincenzo Antolini (the original pastor) are very involved as well. (My Add on- Also Father Bill Neubecker)
“These are very generous people here,” says Father Darnell. “Generosity is based on the idea of participation and is dependent on the people giving of their time.”
The basis of Father Ed’s program, he continues, “is coming in contact with Christ who is alive. When people learn, they become generous with their time, and when you do that you have contact with Christ. And when people have that contact with Christ, everything changes.”
St. Peter Chanel’s coordinator of confirmation, Marta Cardenas, says that participation in the religious education program is very high: 500 young people in the two-year program; another 200 intermediate students in grades 3-7; and 560 First Communion students (160 in English, 400 in Spanish). About 60 parishioners teach these classes.
“The people are so faithful, so beautiful, so generous,” Cardenas says of her fellow parishioners. “They are always praying for us. That is why so much is happening here. And that prayer comes from teachers, parents and priests.”
In addition to the Spiritual Exercises program, the parish supports a Lenten Retreat, workshops on life topics such as grieving, a regional Retrouvaille Program for those experiencing troubled marriages, and a young adult group, as well as feeding the hungry and numerous other activities.
St. Peter Chanel also offers numerous opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation, inside or outside of Lent.
“As Oblates of the Virgin Mary,” smiles Father Darnell, “we are supposed to die either in the pulpit or in the confessional. As a result we hear a tremendous amount of confessions here. We have confessions during the week at 8 a.m., noon and in the evening at least for an hour every day. On Sunday we go from 5 until 9 at night. I think that those are some of the things that make the Lord very happy about this parish.”
Benedict XVI began Wednesday's public audience with a few words about his shocking announcement that he is stepping down from the See of Peter at the end of this month. He asked for continued prayer, and said that he has felt "almost physically" the "power of prayer that the love of the Church, your prayer, is bringing me."
"I did this in full freedom for the good of the Church, after having prayed at length and having examined my conscience before God, well aware of the seriousness of the act, but equally conscious of no longer being able to carry out the Petrine ministry with the strength that it requires," he said. "I am supported and enlightened by the certainty that the Church is Christ, who will never allow it to lack his leadership and care. Thank you all for the love and prayer with which you have accompanied me."
The Holy Father then turned his attention to the reflection at hand: the beginning of Lent and Ash Wednesday. He based his address on this Sunday's Gospel, which recounts Christ's temptations in the desert.
"Reflecting on the temptations undergone by Jesus in the desert is an invitation for each of us to answer a fundamental question: What is truly important in our lives?," he said.
The Pope observed that the common denominator in the devil's three attempts to tempt Christ is "the proposal to manipulate God, to use Him for one's own interests, for one's own glory and success. And, in essence, to put oneself in the place of God, removing Him from one's life and making Him seem superfluous."
Thus, Benedict said, "Everyone should then ask himself: What is God's role in my life? Is He the Lord or am I?"
The Pontiff said that conversion, that is "follow[ing] Jesus in such a way that his Gospel is a real guide for life [...] recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, on His love -- is something that in today's society must be confirmed over and over again.
"Today one can no longer be Christian as a simple consequence of living in a society with Christian roots," he said. "Even those who come from Christian families, and are brought up religiously must renew every day the choice to be Christian."
The Holy Father reflected that with the temptations of secularism and criticism from many corners, Christians face tests in both their personal and social life.
For example, he said, "It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, to practice mercy in everyday life, to leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many consider obvious, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in the case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one's faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed repeatedly in life."
Nevertheless, Benedict XVI said there are many modern examples of those who have converted and allowed God to guide their lives. "The Lord never gets tired of knocking at the door of man in social and cultural contexts that seem swallowed up by secularization," he affirmed.
He spoke of a Russian Orthodox scientist, Pavel Florensky, who became a monk. And a girl of Jewish origin who found God in the midst of the Holocaust. He pointed to the example of the American Dorothy Day. "The journey of faith in so secularized an environment was particularly difficult," the Pope said, "but Grace acts all the same." And there are numerous people who return to the faith after falling away, he continued.
"Our inner man must prepare itself to be visited by God, and precisely for this reason should not let itself be invaded by illusions, by appearances, by material things."
Benedict XVI concluded by inviting a renewed commitment to conversion during Lent in this Year of Faith.
"We might say that the choice between closing in on our egoism and opening to the love of God and others, corresponds to the alternatives in Jesus' temptations: the choice, that is, between human power and love of the Cross, between a redemption viewed solely as material well-being and redemption as the work of God, to whom we give the first place in life," he said. "Conversion means not closing in on oneself in the pursuit of one's own success, one's own prestige, one's own position, but making sure that every day, in the small things, truth, faith in God, and love become the most important thing."
Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he will resign from his duties as Pope on February 28th, 2013.
The full text of the Pope's announcement follows. Please revisit this page for more details. A press conference will be held in minutes at the Vatican press office.
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. From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
"Pope Benedict XVI has truly been a Holy Father to the family of God, his Catholic Church. His decision to resign is a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint, who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people.
I have great affection for this Pope. In my opinion, he is one of the wisest persons in our world today. I try to learn every day from his words and example. I received my Archbishop’s pallium twice from him and I will always be grateful that he chose me to be the Archbishop of Los Angeles.
Let us thank God today for the love and witness of Pope Benedict XVI. Let us entrust him to our Blessed Mother Mary and pray that he will continue to have joy and peace and many more years for prayer and reflection."
-Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles
"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. Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany and Spain.
He delighted our beloved United States of America when he visited Washington and New York in 2008. As a favored statesman he greeted notables at the White House. As a spiritual leader he led the Catholic community in prayer at Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As a pastor feeling pain in a stirring, private meeting at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, he brought a listening heart to victims of sexual abuse by clerics.
Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.
He unified Catholics and reached out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church. More unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity.
He spoke for the world’s poor when he visited them and wrote of equality among nations in his peace messages and encyclicals. He pleaded for a more equitable share of world resources and for a respect for God’s creation in nature.
Those who met him, heard him speak and read his clear, profound writings found themselves moved and changed. In all he said and did he urged people everywhere to know and have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
The occasion of his resignation stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s world."
-Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and President of the USCCB
"The announcement by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, that for reasons of advanced age he has decided to retire from his service as Supreme Pontiff is yet another proof of his total dedication to the Church of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the most distinguished theologians of our time and a pastor of souls who has given himself to the People of God with unlimited commitment, he and his distinguished leadership will be sorely missed.
When I was consecrated a bishop, in Rome in 1985, the Holy Father, at that time Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, kindly participated in the liturgy; and when I left Rome to travel to New York two months later, he returned to the Eternal City from a spiritual retreat to wish me well and assure me of his prayers. Thus it is that I have just written him a warm, filial, letter to profess my unlimited loyalty and promise to keep him in my Masses and prayers throughout the years that lie ahead."
-Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York
VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation of the See of Rome today during a consistory during which three canonizations were also announced.
In his statement to the cardinals present at the consistory, the Holy Father said: "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 onlywith words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering," Pope Benedict XVI told the cardinals at the consistory.
He continued: "However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in orderto govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body arenecessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I havehad to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
Recognizing the seriousness of his ministry, Pope Benedict announced that on February 28th, at 8:00pm, the See of Saint Peter will be vacant. A Conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff will then be convoked.
Pope Benedict XVI concluded his statement by thanking the Cardinals for "all the love and work" with which they have supported him during his ministry, and "asking pardon for all my defects."
Pope Benedict concluded: "And now, let us entrust theHoly Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holyMother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electinga new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Churchof God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."
A conscious, personal decision
Addressing journalists at the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Lombardi stated that for several months the Holy Father has contemplated this decision. When asked by one journalist if the Pope was saddened by his impending retirement, Fr. Lombardi stated that the Holy Father has experienced a "spiritual serenity in front of this retirement."
Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that there is no particular ailment affecting Pope Benedict XVI. "There is no specific sickness or ailment that is affecting the Holy Father at this time," Fr. Lombardi said.
"He has recognized in the last few months with lucidity that his strength was weakening."
The decision to resign from the See of Rome"was a personal decision," Fr. Lombardi continued. "I don't believe that anyone has suggested this to him. This was a conscious decision that he made."
The new Supreme Pontiff is expected to be elected in time for Easter. As for Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Lombardi stated that after he vacates the See of Rome, he will retire to a cloistered monastery within the Vatican.
THANK YOU LORD FOR THE EIGHT WONDERFUL YEARS YOU GAVE US
POPE BENEDICT XVI! Pray together for the Holy Father!
What an amazing show of humility the Holy Father has given to us.
This is truly the act of a saint.
Let us stay united, we love Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus is in charge of His flock, and He will lead us; whatever happens!
VIVA CRISTO REY! LONG LIVE CHRIST THE KING!
VIVA NUESTRA SENORA DE GUADALUPE! LONG LIVE OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE