By Barb Arland-Fye
Blessed John Paul II, suffering from ill health in his final years as pope, gave witness to the preciousness of human life, regardless of abilities or disabilities. Pope Benedict XVI, in announcing his resignation from the papacy, gives witness to graceful transition from active life to retirement. Through the choices they made, “both offered great statements about what it means to grow older,” noted Bishop Martin Amos.
While the Holy Father appeared fatigued during Bishop Amos’ visit to the Vatican 11 months ago, the pontiff’s announcement Feb. 11 of his intention to resign Feb. 28 still came as a surprise.
“It was about 5:30 a.m. Monday morning; I was on my second cup of coffee, reading the newspaper and had the TV news on in the background when all of the sudden I heard: ‘The Holy Father has abdicated …,” Bishop Amos said.
Pope Benedict’s resignation “came as a surprise to many people since it occurs so infrequently. The last pontiff to abdicate was Gregory XII in 1415, almost 600 years ago. For nearly eight years, Pope Benedict has led the Catholic Church during difficult times in our world with a deep spirituality and care for all of God’s people, especially those in most need. While Pope John Paul II chose to stay in office in order to give strength and dignity to people in the final stages of life, Pope Benedict has chosen to allow a new pontiff to meet the strenuous demands of leading the Church.”
To read the rest of this article, subscribe to The Catholic Messenger’s e-edition.
Free Downloadable Book on the Conclave
Written by Mgr Charles Burns, the Ecclesiastical Adviser at the British Embassy to the Holy See, this free publication from the Catholic Truth Society explains simply and clearly what happens before, during and after a Papal election. http://www.ctsbooks.org/pope/