We are living in a historic moment. The last time a pope resigned was in the 15th century. Pope Benedict XVI is a man of deep faith, strong convictions, and fortunately for us, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, a profound thinker and prolific writer. Although many questions will likely be answered in time, it is certainly safe to say that this resignation reflects a significant humility on the part of the pope. While Pope John Paul II will always be known for his charisma and his ability to reach so many of the faithful, especially the youth, Pope Benedict is known for his tireless pursuit of truth and his desire to share this truth with all people. “Cooperatores veritatis” (collaborators in truth) is the motto of Pope Benedict, who worked for years in the vatican side by side with his predecessor John Paul II.
Ultimately, this resignation will be remembered by its reflection of true humility. It takes great humility and astonishing honesty to do what Pope Benedict, our pope, is doing when he steps down from the seat of Peter. His words offer all of us encouragement as we face the struggles and hardships of this life. He says: “An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion or the latest novelty; a mature and adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ.”
It is this friendship with Christ that the Pope must be leaning on during this time of his great public and private example of faith.His words of resignation reveal his deep faith:
” After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. 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 bark 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.”
Pope Benedict XVI serves as an example to all of us of what real humility and courage is made of. Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesperson, reminds us that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision was a “personal decision taken with full freedom, which deserves maximum respect.” What do you think of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation? What do you love most about Pope Benedict XVI?