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Scott P. Richert

The Pope Resigns: It Is Finished

By March 1, 2013

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Watching the final hours of Pope Benedict XVI's reign through the streaming video on the Vatican's website, I was struck one last time by his humility. Even at this moment—when he was going out, we might say, at the top of his game—he did nothing to draw attention to himself. Before departing from the Vatican, he had sent one final tweet from @Pontifex, reminding us where our focus should be:

Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.

The crowd of clergy and nuns and laymen, members of the Curia and reporters, who came to wish Pope Benedict farewell were not allowed at the Vatican helipad. The contrast with a departing President of the United States could not have been greater; the Holy Father climbed the stairs into the helicopter and sat down. No turning around to mug for the cameras; no victory sign or salute; just the simple actions of a man ready to move on to the next stage of his life, in the service of God.

For those who know Rome, the video of the helicopter ride was a moving experience. Taking off, the helicopter headed toward the Janiculum, the Roman hill to the south of Vatican City; but then it swung in a slow, wide loop around Saint Peter's Basilica and followed the Tiber for a stretch before flying over the Colosseum—site of the martyrdom of so many early Roman Christians—and up to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the seat of the Bishop of Rome.

Just as moving was Pope Benedict's final public appearance as pontiff (and, I suspect, his final public appearance), when, on his arrival at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer palace where he will remain until sometime after his successor is elected, he went straight to the balcony on which he has prayed so many Angeluses and offered so many blessings to greet the faithful assembled below. In the English translation provided by the Vatican Information Service, he said:

Thank you. Thank you all. Dear friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your well wishes, which do me such good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me than the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the Good of the Church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!

And now, he prays. And we wait. And the Chair of Peter is vacant, as the College of Cardinals prepares to meet on Monday, March 4, for preliminary discussions on setting a date for the papal conclave.

May God bless Benedict XVI, Pontiff Emeritus, for his years of service in the vineyard of the Lord, and may He grant him many more.

More on Pope Benedict's Resignation:

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March 1, 2013 at 11:43 am
(1) Gil Michelini says:

After reading your post, I feel frustration that I have never been to Rome and I don’t know the path you are talking about. I’m sure knowing this would help better understand.

What is the Jewish curse, “May you live in interesting times.” These are those. I pray we can get at least one more book from the Pope Emeritus.

March 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm
(2) gerry says:

You have done a wonderful job covering this historic time.
Thankyou for sharing

March 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm
(3) Mojisola Ladipo says:

It takes courage to leave any high office. It takes the grace of God to leave with dignity but it takes God himself to pilot one through the endless stretch of confusing days ahead. Goodbye and God keep you in the dark days ahead, dear Pontiff Emeritus.

March 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm
(4) Moses says:

I am deeply saddend and frightened by The Pope’s decision to resign.he seemed frustrated by the people surrounding Him,i wish He could have held on till death.i love His Traditional approach.God will Protect U,The New Pope and the Entire Church from all Her enemies,Amen

March 1, 2013 at 9:52 pm
(5) Sandra says:

With Benedict’s resignation, the time is ripe for a thorough overhaul of the Vatican which is pulling down the Catholic Church and parishioners into an abyss. There’s too much corruption in this top heavy, mismanaged organization, they have lost focus on what they supposedely represent ie., Jesus Christ, His teachings and Commandments.
The coverup of pedophile priests by Bishops and the Vatican is a stain that will never be washed away. Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul 2 were complicit in this evil and I personally have no respect for either man and hold them in contempt. It’s time we stopped elevating these two accessories to criminal activities as Godly, they were not.
I hope this time around a decent, honourable, spiritual, tolerant man will be nominated who will clean up the mess by riddign the Vatican and the Church of the slime. That includes the Vatican Bank. We Catholics are fed up and are leaving the Church in numbers the Church can’t afford to loose. Lets stop covering for them. It’s not what Jesus intended.

March 2, 2013 at 6:46 am
(6) Barbara says:

I agree with Sandra. Several weeks ago I tore up my framed photo of the Pope. As a clergy sexual abuse victim, I was disgusted with Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Both covered up and shuffled these sex-ridden priests from parish to parish, then would turn the tables on the victims and blame them. These people rely on public sentiment.

March 2, 2013 at 9:38 am
(7) Steve Cole says:

A truly moving article . Pope Benedict was not as charismatic as Pope John Paul, but you can never take away the fact that he was a serene scholar and teacher of the catholic faith. With a world that is in so much turmoil and hate, I hope he writes about his Papacy, and pray that GOD will give the new Pope the courage and faith to battle the obstacles that are attacking our church today.
Thank you Pope Benedict for your guidance and love.

March 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm
(8) Karen says:

Although some may look at the departure of Pope Benedict as mournful or even scandalous, I see it as an action that will bring a new successor who will achieve the desired peace and resolve The Church so desperately needs. We need those guilty of breaking the law of G_D and man brought to an earthly justice. We need transparency and the dismantling of corruption in both policy, cover-up, and individuals who would lead The Church to further sin. Understand I love my church – The Church. It breaks my heart to hear all things unjust. It is time for healing, for strength, for change. We must also remember in whom we have faith, G_D – not man. Matthew 16:18 reads “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

March 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm
(9) Bonnie says:

this comment is for the people who hope that there will be big changes. If you want to see some of the changes that are happening in other religions such as: priests marrying, I’m sure the Anglican Church would welcome you with open arms. If you want to see Women Priests, I’m sure the United Churches would also welcome you. Our Church is built on many traditons with very good reasons behind them. I for one, would pray that all of the bad things that have happened in our Church can be put to rest. There will always be people that will say that they left the Church because of this reason or that. When in fact, it’s really because they’re looking to pick the Church and her rules a part. I guess that we’ll really find out on Judgement Day the real story!

March 4, 2013 at 11:30 am
(10) Maria says:

As the father figure and supreme sheppard on earth, I am saddened that the pope has stepped down. However, I am so grateful that he is such a holy and humble man…that he could make such a hard and controvertial decision to step down. I love my church for being true to what Jesus taught us. I agree that the church needs to change, but we must be careful, when we say more open and accepting; We must never be accepting or open to that which is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. I also believe that we need to clean up the clergy, but please do not put all priests in the same group. There are so many of them, holy men, trying so hard to continue to spread the gospel and lead Godly lives. For those who were bounded by sexual abuse, my prayers are with you. But the Lord commands to forgive our enemies. No easy task, but the Lord at your side, nothing is imposible. Instead of leaving the church, find one of those good priests who can bring you the love of Christ and help you heal. May the Love of Christ be with all, pray for one another.

August 24, 2013 at 5:25 am
(11) caroline says:

i am a big admirer of Pope Benedict the 16th, ever since his Cardinal Josef Ratzinger days. I admired his stern approach before he became Pope and i admired him even more when he adopted a softer humble approach when he became Pope. He exudes the aura of a priest truly in communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ and i love the fact that he adheres to and respects the great traditions of the Vatican. Which other religion in the world has a city and HQ dedicated to setting out the rules and protocol so that every catholic church in the world shall be the same in service to the Lord. The only problems are when stubborn priests and bishops instigated by silly people do not obey the rules set out by Rome. I still have framed photographs of Pope Benedict in my house, the only Pope whom i chose to have framed photographs of. I was saving my money to try and make a trip to Vatican just to perhaps have a glimpse of this beloved Pope when to my dismay, he announced his resignation. I did cry as i knew it would never be possible for nobodies like me to be ever able to see him again. However i respect his decision and i admire his even more now. I always get excited when i read any sliver of current news pertaining to this wonderful Pope and someday i hope he gets to be proclaimed a Saint just like his predecessor. God Bless.

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