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Pope says he made decision to abdicate with ‘profound serenity’

By on Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Benedict XVI waves to the faithful (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI waves to the faithful (Photo: CNS)

On his last full day as Pope, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an unusually personal and emotional farewell address, thanking the faithful around the world for their support and assuring them that he would remain in their service even in retirement.

“I will continue to accompany the path of the Church with prayer and reflection, with that dedication to the Lord and to his bride that I have tried to live every day till now and that I want to live always,” the Pope told a crowd in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the eve of his resignation.

Under a clear blue sky with temperatures in the low 40s, the Pope arrived for his last public audience shortly after 10.30am, standing and waving for almost 15 minutes as his white popemobile made a circuit through the square. Cheering pilgrims waved national flags and banners with slogans such as “always with the Pope” and “you will never be alone”.

The crowd spilled over into the adjacent Via della Conciliazione, which had been closed to cars, and the Vatican estimated the turnout at 150,000.

Abandoning his usual practice of giving a catechetical talk on a devotional text or theme at public audiences, the Pope spoke about his time as pope and his historic decision to resign. He looked tired but composed as he read his speech, and he smiled at the frequent interruptions by applause.

Pope Benedict recalled his almost eight-year pontificate as a time of “joy and light, but also difficult moments”.

“The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light breeze, days in which the catch of fish has been abundant,” he said, likening himself to St Peter on the Sea of Galilee.

“There have also been moments in which the waters were turbulent and the wind contrary, as throughout the history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to be asleep,” he said. “But I have always known that the Lord is in that boat and that the boat of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink.”

The Pope, who announced earlier in February that he would step down because his “strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry”, told the crowd that he had made his decision “in full consciousness of its gravity and also novelty, but with profound serenity of soul”.

Although he would be retiring to a life of prayer, meditation and study in a monastery inside Vatican City, he said, he would continue to serve and sacrifice for the Church.

“Whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy,” he said. “He belongs always and totally to all, to the whole Church.

“My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this,” he said. “I am not returning to private life, a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the Cross, but remain in a new way beside the crucified Lord. I no longer carry the power of office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St Peter’s precincts.”

The Pope thanked his collaborators in the Vatican, making special mention of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who as Secretary of State is the highest Vatican official. Cardinal Bertone, who has drawn blame for the mismanagement sensationally documented in the 2012 “VatiLeaks” of confidential correspondence, “has accompanied me faithfully in these years”, the Pope said.

The Pope thanked the cardinals, some 70 of whom sat near him in front of St Peter’s Basilica, and who are expected to begin meeting on Monday to plan the election of the next pope. Pope Benedict also voiced his gratitude to other members of the hierarchy, the Vatican diplomatic corps and “all those who work for good communication”, a category presumably including the press.

Pope Benedict acknowledged messages he had received over the preceding two weeks from heads of state, religious leaders and other dignitaries. But he made special mention of letters from “simple people”, who he said had written to him not as to a “prince or a great man whom they do not know”, but as “brothers and sisters or sons and daughters”. The Pope called their expressions of affection and solidarity “reason for joy at a time when so many speak of the [Church's] decline, but we see how the Church is alive today”.

The conclusion of the Pope’s talk set off a two-minute standing ovation, which he acknowledged by smiling broadly and standing with outstretched arms.

According to the Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s speech was the last of his pontificate. No papal address was expected at his farewell meeting with cardinals scheduled for the next day.

The audience was also the last opportunity for large numbers of the public to see the Pope in person before his resignation was to take effect at 8pm on February 28. He was expected to greet several thousand people that evening in the small town square of Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles southeast of Rome, in front of the papal summer residence where he will live until the end of renovations at his permanent home in Vatican City.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    On his last full day as Pope

    hmmmmm – OK, this is some sheer and total pedantic nitpickery ; but …

    Traditionally, the Catholic “day” actually starts at sunset (conventionally, 6 PM), so that Pope Benedict XVI’s last day technically starts in just under an hour’s time (at time of writing) … :-)

  • Sweetjae

    Thank you Holy Father. Cardinal Ranjith or Archbishop Chaput would be a good choice to clean the House :-)

  • $20596475

    Surely the Pope has resigned. Monarchs abdicate. Everyone else just resign if they leave office! 

  • teigitur

    He is looking and sounding frail. I hope he has a long and happy retirement.

  • teigitur

    Really? Why are vigil masses allowed after mid-day then?

  • Ratzcat

    I, for one, will miss your serene, beautiful presence on the internet very much, Holy Father.

    The internet is many things but I loved keeping in touch with all the happenings of your pontificate and watching and listening to you.

    You opened your big, warm heart for all the world to see so many times. Today was no exception.

    I was privileged, blessed and honoured to be at Cofton Park in Birmingham UK when you beatified Blessed John Henry Newman; they were the best and most beautiful hours of my entire life – save that the day I made my first Holy Communion and the moment I met my future husband (who was also at Cofton Park with me).

    You judged wisely and – for example – you gave two great, precious and wonderful gifts to the Roman Catholics of Shrewsbury and Portsmouth – Bishop Mark Davies and Bishop Philip Egan.

    Like a good musician, you finely tuned the practise of our faith to what it should be. Joyful, beautiful, holy.

    The youth love you because you weren’t attempting to be ‘trendy’ and ‘with it’. You spoke to them like a true role model and doing what it says on the tin - being a true, loving Holy Father.

    The Extraordinary Form is another beautiful gift. If there was a better word than ‘thank you’ for this and the many things you have done, I’d write it here. The reassuring presence of youth and children at these masses would lift my heart every time with the elevation of Christ’s Body and Blood.
     
    I offered up my chronic pain and sufferings for you, the souls in purgatory and the Church every day and will continue to do so.

    When Our Lady of Fatima said that the ‘pope will have much to suffer’, my initial interpretation of that was just one pope (John Paul II). Now I know that the Blessed Mother was referring to the popes of the 20th Century but especially you, the first newly-elected pope of the 21st Century. You have suffered so much, Holy Father – a lot of it you could have done without and which should have been severely dealt with by those who should know better i.e. petty office politics in the Curia, clerical sex abuse, media venom, rising militant atheism.

    You have achieved a lot of great things in your pontificate – GREAT THINGS – despite what awful things were thrown in your direction. God knows that.

    I took it bad when you abdicated the Petrine Ministry but I understood why. I’ve always taken you to be a gentle and courageous man, Holy Father. You stood up to many things in your life including Nazism…

    …but, as what happens to even the best and most energetic of us, there comes a point when even one’s coping strategies and contingency plans appear to just have one miniscule drop which is not enough.

    May Our Lord and His Holy Mother keep you folded in their arms as you wind down. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the retirement you richly deserve and the love and care of those who will look after you.

    Not forgetting the gentle, comforting purr of a cat or two on your lap. The sound of birds singing, bees buzzing, crickets chirping. The aroma of coffee brewing, bread baking and dinner cooking. The gentle interruption of book pages turning, throng of piano music, Mozart and Beethoven through your iPod/CD player and a good pen flowing the permanent ink of scholarly words across good quality paper…

    God bless.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    SORRY, don’t know how to undo the duplication. Tried again and again; it does’t work for me.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • teigitur

    I agree, although they start at 4pm around here.
     Also lent finishes at mid-day on holy saturday!

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    TOO MUCH of Philosophy (mere human thinking and its consequences, fruits and passing products) and Theology relativises THE SON OF GOD, and practically these two make his coming into our human family useless to a great extent for you and me. So, please, let us take care and invest our precious time and energy in THAT WHICH LASTS and makes us fit for THE KINGDOM OF GOD through his saving WORD.
    Or else we shall all be like Peter and party fishing all the night… or EVEN WORSE like the Lord’s own ENEMIES (THE HIGH PRIEST and his combine) who by not accepting the Baptism of JOHN refused to make themselves fit for THE KINGDOM OF GOD and so were LEFT OUT OF IT and were excluded FROM IT, and yet they arrogantly BEHAVED towards THE TRUE SON OF GOD, THE SAVIOR and pretended as though they were the ONES solely appointed and authorized by GOD HIMSELF to represent HIM and take care of HIS PEOPLE as their SHEPHERDS.
    IT IS THE LORD HIMSELF who told us, “By their fruits you shall know them” : HIS enemies or his useless Servants. WHY, THEN, what the lord said about such people will not apply to us as well? Even after over 2 thousand years WHAT fruit have we produced for HIM?
    JESUS THE LORD gave us his Body and Blood as our nourishment through his WORD.HIS WORD is FOUNDATIONAL, The Word comes first..What is the meaning of what THE LORD spoke to Mary and Martha, and WHAT FOR DID HE esteem and congratulate Mary?
    LET US NOT TRY to get hold of HIS WORD, let us not try to digest and understand HIS WORD merely through our sinful and unredeemed human intellect. IT SIMPLY WILL NOT WORK for it is the easy way and not the narrow one.
    LET US USE HIS WORD RATHER FOR GROWING IN FAITH AND LOVE FOR THE LORD through SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ON IT. WITH IT COMES ALL ELSE.
    The Products of Ph. and Th. keep the people occupied SO THAT they have no time FOR GOD’S WORD, the foundational reality of TRUE LIFE IN CHRIST THE LORD for each human person.

    WHAT DID THE 12 APOSTLES DO? HOW DID THEY SPEND THEIR TIME AND PRECIOUS ENERGY? Were they occupied with these passing products of Ph. and Th.?
    Let us all PRAY AND PLEAD FOR a Pope who is truly GODLY in JESUS THE LORD and WHO will live the whole of his life with undivided HEART AND MIND AND THE WHOLE OF HIS PERSON, spreading HIS WORD as a worthy, exemplary and inspiring APOSTLE OF OUR BLESSED LORD.
    Those who claim to have inherited the offices of the 12 Apostles must themselves be LIVING AND PRACTICING like WORD-OF –GOD-PROCLAIMING, TRUE APOSTLES. Or else their life becomes a BIG LIE, and claim an EMPTY one. NO wonder the people of the world will not see and experience THE KINGDOM OF GOD THE SON OF GOD brought for us. AND THUS HIS INCARNATION becomes useless. He wants the salvation of all.

    FOR BRINGING SALVATION FOR ALL, JESUS THE LORD Promoted APOSTLESHIP so much so it is truly said that IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH EVERY CHRISTIAN WAS AN APOSTLE. Apart from the 12 there were many more whom the Lord himself promoted to APOSTLESHIP.

    Even after over 2 years of HIS COMING what a messy work we have accomplished for THE LORD, like Peter and party fishing all the night……. what fruit can be produced, WHAT FRUITFULNESS CAN WE HAVE WHEN WE NEGLECT TO KEEP AND OBEY HIS WORD, when we don’t give HIS WORD THE FOUNDATIONAL IMPORTANCE it deserve- If we don’t keep promoting APOSTLESHIP as the LORD HIMSELF DID the world will not be saved and WE CHRISTIAN AND ESPECIALLY OUR LEADERS WHO ARE NOT TRUE APOSTLES WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR IT.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

     

     

    TOO MUCH of Philosophy (mere human thinking and its

    consequences, its fruits and passing products) and Theology
    relativises THE SON

    OF GOD and practically these MAKE HIS COMING INTO OUR HUMAN
    FAMILY USELESS for you

    and me. So, please, let us take care and invest our precious
    time and

    energy in THAT WHICH LASTS and makes us fit for THE KINGDOM
    OF GOD through his

    saving WORD.

     

    JESUS THE LORD gave us his Body and Blood as our nourishment
    THROUGH HIS WORD.

    HIS WORD is FOUNDATIONAL, THE WORD COMES FIRST. What is the
    meaning of what THE

    LORD spoke to Mary and Martha and esteemed and congratulated
    Mary for?

     

    LET US NOT TRY to get hold of HIS WORD, let us not try to
    digest and

    understand HIS WORD merely through our intellect. IT SIMPLY
    WILL NOT WORK for

    it is the easy way. LET US USE HIS WORD RATHER FOR GROWING
    IN FAITH AND LOVE

    FOR THE LORD through SPIRITUAL MEDITATION. WITH IT COMES ALL
    ELSE.

     

    The Products of Ph. and Th. keep the people occupied SO THAT
    they have no time

    FOR GOD’S WORD, the foundational reality of TRUE LIFE IN
    CHRIST THE LORD for

    each human person.

     

    WHAT DID THE 12 APOSTLES DO? 
    HOW DID THEY SPEND THEIR TIME AND PRECIOUS

    ENERGY? Were they occupied with these passing products of
    Ph. and Th.?

     

    Let us all PRAY AND PLEAD FOR a Pope who is truly GODLY in
    JESUS THE LORD and

    live a life  
    spreading HIS WORD as a worthy, exemplary and

    inspiring APOSTLE OF OUR BLESSED LORD.

     

     

    Those who claim to have inherited the offices of the 12

    apostles must themselves be LIVING AND PRACTICING, WORD-OF
    –GOD-PROCLAIMING

    APOSTLES. Or else their life becomes a BIG LIE and claim
    EMPTY an empty one. NO

    wonder the people of the world will not see and experience
    THE KINGDOM OF GOD

    the Son of God brought for us.

     

    JESUS THE LORD Promoted APOSTLESHIP so much so it is truly
    said THAT IN THE

    PRIMITIVE CHURCH EVERY CHRISTIAN WAS AN APOSTLE. Apart from
    the 12 there were

    many more whom the Lord himself promoted to APOSTLESHIP.

     

    If we don’t keep up the promotion of APOSTLESHIP as the LORD
    HIMSELF DID

    the world will not be saved and we Christians will be held
    responsible for it.

     

     

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Jeepers !!!

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    TWO NAMES from INDIA for representing the SON OF GOD on earth through Peter THE APOSTLE :

    1. Bishop (emeritus?) Bosco Penna (who goes about full of life and vigor and zeal)

    2. George Cardinal Alencherry

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Farewell dear Pope Benedict, and thank you in the Holy Spirit for your wisdom and leadership !!!

  • $20596475

    The Pope is NOT a monarch in the sense it is being used, as the head of the RC Church. He might be within Vatican City alone, but the abdication of the monarch of such a tiny state would hardly be headline news! 
    I suggest you check other, more mainstream media, for confirmation of that. All are using the correct terminology. Even The Tablet!

    As head of the Church he leads an organisation and not a state, so resigns and does not abdicate.

  • Tridentinus

     The Pope is the Sovereign of The Vatican State which is an Absolute, Elective Monarchy by virtue of being the Bishop of Rome and Head of the Church. The Vatican City State and the Holy See are distinct from each other.
    When the Pope resigns the bishopric of Rome he automatically abdicates as the temporal Sovereign  of the Vatican City State.

  • $20596475

    Which is pretty much what I have been saying. The article was the Pope resigning, in his capacity within the Church, and not about him giving up being the head of the Vatican State as a consequence. 

  • Nr24

    Conclave should be voting just three names:-
    Cardinal from Hong Kong, John Hong Ton
    Archbishop Augustiine DiNoia, the dominican who was the secretary of the cdf who did all the work efficiently so that his more famous boss Ratzinger, looked good, sounded good and eventually became the Pope;
    Archbishop Charles Chaput, who cleaned up th Philadelphia diocese where his predecessor, Justin Rigali did nothing

  • Cfcfarinas

    Thank you very much for making it available for us who were not able to watch him on the television. 
    WE  love Pope Benedict XVI his wisdom, devotion,his faithfulness to God and His love for God and men.