In this week’s editorial, Fr. Federico Lombardi, sj, reflects on the witness of Pope Benedict XVI in the final days of his pontificate. Fr. Lombardi is the director of the Press Office of the Holy See. Read Vatican Radio’s English translation below.
The final days of the pontificate of Benedict XVI will certainly remain ingrained in the memory of innumerable people and will mark an important stage, new and unprecedented, in the history of a pilgrim Church. For many it was almost a discovery of the Pope’s humanity and spirituality; for others, a confirmation of his humility, along with his deep life in faith.
If Pope Wojtyla had given, with admirable courage before the eyes of the world, his courageous witness of faith in the suffering of sickness, Pope Ratzinger, without lesser courage, gave us the witness of acceptance before God of the limits of old age and of the discernment on the exercise of responsibility that God had entrusted to him. Both taught us, not only with the Magisterium, but also and perhaps even more effectively with their lives, what it means to seek and to find everyday the will of God for us and for our service, even in the most crucial situations of human existence.
As he told us effectively himself, the resignation of a Pope is not in any way abandonment, neither of the mission received or much less of the faithful. It is the continuation of entrusting to God his Church, in the secure hope that he continues to guide it. With humility and serenity, Benedict XVI says he “tried to do” everything possible to serve the good of the Church, a Church that is not his, God’s and which, by the continued workings of the Spirit, “lives, grows and awakens souls”.
In this sense, the legacy of Pope Benedict is today an invitation to all to prayer and responsibility. First, naturally, for the cardinals to whom falls the task of the election of a successor, but also and no less for the entire Church, who needs to accompany in prayer the discernment of the electors and the new Pope in the task of effectively proclaiming the Gospel “for the good of the Church and of humanity” and to guide the community to an always greater faithfulness to the same Gospel of Christ. Because no Pope can do this alone. We will do it therefore also with him, and the Pope Emeritus will continue to accompany us, “working” for this – these were his final words spoken publicly –“with his heart, with his love, with his prayer, with his reflection”.
Thank you, Pope Benedict.