The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s intent to resign the papacy at the end of this month came as a shock to all of us. Although the Holy Father had indicated in the past that he would consider resignation if his health warranted it, today’s announcement was nonetheless unexpected. By this courageous decision, the Holy Father acted as he always has: displaying his great love for the Church and his trust in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Since his election to the See of Peter in April, 2005, Pope Benedict has been a tireless proponent of the New Evangelization, which his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, had introduced to the Church and the world. Well into his 80s, the Holy Father continued to cross the globe, proclaiming God’s love for all.
Long before he was elected Pope, Joseph Ratzinger was known as one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century. He continued this particular ministry in his encyclicals, his homilies, his weekly catechesis and in the books that he authored during his papacy.
Ever the teacher, Pope Benedict strived to unify the Church in orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church’s ancient Tradition, even as those teachings had been recast in the work of the Second Vatican Council, at which he was a theological expert.
As successor to Saint Peter, the Pope showed pastoral care and solidarity with the Church spread throughout the world by his many apostolic journeys outside of Italy, including his 2008 pilgrimage to the United States.
In visiting the Holy Father last April, it was obvious to us that his energies were greatly diminished and that the years were taking their toll upon him. At the same time, he remained dedicated to carrying out the duties and responsibilities of his office.
Our prayers are with the Holy Father as he now prepares to resign. Our prayers are with the cardinal electors who will choose the next Pope. We entrust the Church to Mary, Mother of God, that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us along the path toward the Kingdom of God.
I ask the people of the Diocese of San Jose to join with me and Bishop Daly and all of the clergy and religious who serve here to pray for the Church now and during this season of Lent, that a worthy successor to the See of Peter may be chosen.
—By Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath