Today dear friends I want to farewell the Pope for we are witnessing a historic event as Pope Benedict XVI leaves the office of Pope in order to spend his last years in a Monastery praying for the church he has led for eight years.
He feels the church, during these difficult times, needs to be in the hands of a man who is in full control of his faculties and has the stamina needed to lead the church forward.
As a practicing Roman Catholic myself, I am not really surprised given his age and all he has had to contend with during this time, that he has resigned. Benedict has been severely tested in having to deal with the abuse scandals that has rocked the church from within and the militant atheists that have attacked the church from without.
I love the church in which I was brought up, but there is no doubt, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to come and sweep it clean renewing it from within. Many Catholics I know – including myself – are praying for the election of the next Pope. He will need to be a very holy man with wisdom, intelligence and interpersonal skills … and don’t forget that most import virtue: humility.
Benedict never wanted to be elected Pope and in fact, had begged Blessed John Paul II on three occasions to release him from the Vatican so he could retire to Bavaria to live with his older brother (also a priest). They had bought a house together and they wanted nothing more than to listen to music and be available for ministry at their leisure.
Cardinal Ratzinger probably thought, during the Conclave to elect a new pope after John Paul II died, that his wish was coming true at last and he told various friends that he was looking forward to finally retiring. But it was not to be! Never in his wildest dreams did he think that he would be elected Pope.
But one thing is sure, that in accepting the chair of St. Peter, Benedict was mentoring and allowing a number of young Cardinals to gain valuable administrative experience of running archdioceses so they would be ready, if necessary to deal with the administration nightmare that is the Vatican! Benedict myself thought this and he never came to grips with it.
I have read much about both John Paul II and Benedict XVI in the past, and I also gained a lot of information from reading the articles on the ABC Religion and Ethics website (link below).
Last night I watched the telecast LIVE from Rome where Benedict gave his final address in St. Peter’s Square. It was a very emotional one. For outsiders looking in, it may be hard to see what Benedict achieved as the media pursues its love of publishing stories using a snippet that can be ‘beat up’ and does not like to concentrate on deep theological argument and truth, but behind-the-scenes, Benedict was considered one of the greatest theologians to occupy the chair of St. Peter.
Friends, this is not intended as an in-depth study of Pope Benedict. No. It is simply my desire to write a farewell, for all the world to see, and to say to the man Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI – who in humility has recognised he is unable to continue – that I salute him and to say:
Goodbye Pope Benedict XVI and Thank You!
PS If you wish to read an article online which gives the details of Benedict’s contributions to the Catholic Church as Pope (and other articles) read more on this website: (www.abc.net.au/religion/articles)