Today marks another sombre anniversary – it was ten years ago, on the last day of February, that Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned the papacy, with a brief address to the cardinals. As he said back then – in the original, speaking Latin:
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 barque 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
Much has transpired in the interim, and we can but glean the thoughts of the Pope Emeritus – for so he would be called – on his successor’s decisions, which seem to be ramping up in their divisiveness – and I’m trying to be measured here. Was it really insomnia that drove Benedict off the papal throne? Or something else, with vague allusions in his brief address and other hints? We will likely only know at the end of time, and we leave his fateful decision between him and God, before Whom he has now given his account. In the meantime, in an increasingly fractious Church, we follow what we can follow, endure what must be endured, resist what should be resisted, always staying faithful to the Church, and the office of the papacy. God will right the barque of Peter, in his own good time.
We may give thanks to Pope Benedict for all that he did do, within the limits of what he could do, for that same Church.
℣. Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine
℟. Et lux perpetua luceat ei
℣. Requiescat in pace.