Benedict the Builder Pope Resigns His Office. His Work Will Continue in a Restored Church and a New Missionary Age
I remember that first homily: "Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'
He emphasized the work of authentic ecumenism proclaiming: "Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty."
Pope Benedict XVI has been anything but a caretaker. He has been a rebuilder of foundations. I believe he will go down in history as one of the great popes. He continued the pastoral visits of his predecessor with amazingly fruitful travels around the world. The youth of the world flocked to World Youth days and his genuine love for them - and they for him - was evident. He pastorally and decisively dealt with serious matters concerning the need for a purification of the Church.
He has been exactly what he told us he was when he began his service, a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" Notice how little fanfare accompanied his historic resignation! Clearly, to this successor of Peter, it is simply not about him, but about the Lord whom he serves. His diminutive size and humble manner reveal the holy heart of this man totally given over to the Lord. He is so refreshingly counter cultural in this age of narcissism and self love.
He is a scholar of the highest order, yet has been able to communicate with simplicity and beauty because he is a man of deep prayer. He has given continual teaching to the faithful - including some of the finest hagiography in centuries - during his Wednesday Catecheses. He made Church history, when Motu Propio, he released of the Apostolic Constitution on Groups of Anglicans which has begun the healing of the divided Western Church. The fruits of these Ordinariates will be recounted by future historians as among the most important events in the Third Millennium of the Church.
He earned the great respect of Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church and made progress toward some form of communion between Eastern and Western Christianity which could make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion. He championed the re-christianizing of Europe and passionately promoted the New Evangelization of the Church - even establishing a new Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization. He has been a champion of the New Ecclesial movements and helped to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as gift for the missionary work of the Church in this hour.
He has doggedly defended the Christian roots of the West and defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He has engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of dialogue in truth. He began the Courts of the Gentiles outreach engaging atheists and agnostics.
The Church has been truly blessed to have Pope Benedict XVI at the helm of the Bark of Peter as she sails into the Third Christian Millennium. I am sure that as the news of this historic resignation sinks in I will return to write and reflect, along with many others. For now, I ask all of our readers to pray for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Church which he has led with such beauty, simplicity, depth and grace. But even more importantly, I ask you to pray for His Successor.
How desperately the Church, and the world into which she is sent, needs another Champion at the helm. I know that the Lord will hear these prayers because, after all, this is His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. (Matt. 16:18) And, Benedict the Builder Pope secured the Firm Foundations so that the work of Jesus Christ may continue through His Mystical Body on earth.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, resignation, Papal resignation, Vatican Church history, papal, New Pope, Vicar of Christ, successor of Peter, Joseph Ratzinger, Deacon Keith Fournier
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