Pope Benedict XVI’s Final Audience

Thank you Holy FatherThe following text is an English translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s final audience, held yesterday February 27th, 2013.

“I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to trust like children in the arms of God, certain that those arms support us always and are what allow us to walk every day, even when fatigued.”

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood!

Distinguished Authorities!

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this last General Audience of my pontificate.

A heartfelt thanks! I am truly moved! And I see the Church alive! And I think we should also thank the Creator for the beautiful weather that He is giving us today while we’re still in winter.

As the Apostle Paul in the biblical text that we have heard, I too feel in my heart that I must above all thank God, who guides and builds up the Church, who sows his Word and thus nourishes the faith in his People. At this moment my heart expands to embrace the whole Church throughout the world, and I thank God for the “news” that in these years in the Petrine ministry I have been able to receive about the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love that circulates in the Body of the Church and makes it live in love, and about the hope that opens us and directs us towards the fullness of life, towards the heavenly homeland.

I feel that I carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. I gather everyone in prayer to entrust them to the Lord, so that we may have full knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and so that we may comport ourselves in a manner worthy of Him, of His love, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

At this time, I feel great trust, because I know, all of us know, that the Word of the truth of the Gospel is the strength of the Church, it is its life. The Gospel purifies and renews, it bears fruit, wherever the community of believers listens and receives the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my trust, this is my joy.

When, on April 19 almost eight years ago, I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I felt this certainty firmly, and it has always accompanied me. At that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: Lord, why are you asking this of me and what are you asking of me? It is a great weight you are placing on my shoulders, but if this is what You ask, at your word I will let down the nets, confident that You will guide me, even with my weaknesses. And eight years later I can say that the Lord has truly guided me, He has been close to me, I could feel His presence every day. It has been a stretch of the Church’s journey, which has had moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments; I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of ​​Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days when the fishing has been plentiful, and there were also times when the water was rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to sleep. But I always knew that the Lord is in the boat, and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, not ours, but it is His. And He will not let her sink, it is He who leads it, certainly also through the men he has chosen, because so He has willed it. This was and is a certainty, that nothing can obscure. And that is why today my heart is filled with gratitude to God because He has never left me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

We are in the Year of Faith, which I wanted to strengthen our faith in God in a context that seems to put it more and more into the background. I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to trust like children in the arms of God, certain that those arms support us always and are what allow us to walk every day, even when fatigued. I would like everyone to feel loved by that God who gave his Son for us and has shown us his boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. A beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says: “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian…” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith; it is the most precious thing, that no one can take from us! We thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but expects that we too love Him!

But it is not only God that I want to thank at this time. A Pope is not alone in guiding the barque of Peter, even if the primary responsibility is his; and I have never felt alone in carrying the joy and weight of the Petrine ministry; the Lord has put next to me many people, with generosity and love for God and the Church, they have helped me and have been close to me. First of all you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your advice, your friendship has been precious to me; my collaborators, starting with my Secretary of State who has accompanied me faithfully over the years, the Secretary of State and the whole of the Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in various fields, give their service to the Holy See: there are many faces who do not appear, they remain in the shadow, but precisely in this silence, in their daily work, in a spirit of faith and humility, they have been a solid and reliable support for me. A special thought to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I cannot forget the Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, consecrated persons and the entire People of God: in the pastoral visits, in encounters, in the audences, in my travels, I have always perceived great care and deep affection, but I also have loved each and every one, without exception, with that pastoral charity which is the heart of every pastor, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I have remembered each of you in my prayers, with a father’s heart.

I would like my greetings and my thanks, then, to reach everyone: the heart of a Pope extends to the whole world. And I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps at the Holy See, which makes present the great family of nations. Here I also think of all those who work for a good communication and I thank them for their important service.

At this point I would like to thank from my heart all the many people around the world who in recent weeks have sent me touching tokens of attention, friendship and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone, now I experience this again in so great a way that it touches my heart. The Pope belongs to everyone and many people feel very close to him. It is true that I receive letters from the great ones of the world – from Heads of State, religious leaders, representatives of the world of culture and so on. But I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and make me feel their affection, born from being together with Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write to me the way one writes, for instance, to a prince or a to great person that one does not know. They write to me as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of a very affectionate family tie. Here one can touch firsthand what the Church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and to be able almost to touch with your hands the power of its truth and its love, is a source of joy, in a time when many speak of its decline. But we see how the Church is alive today!

In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God earnestly in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its seriousness and also its novelty, but with profound peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make tough choices, difficult ones, having always before oneself the good of the Church and not oneself.

Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The seriousness of the decision also lay precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was busy always and forever with the Lord. Always – whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of its private dimension. I experienced, and I am experiencing it now, that one receives life when one gives it. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.

The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no return to the private sphere. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I will not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remain in a new way with the Crucified Lord. I no longer carry the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be for me a great example in this. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I thank each and everyone for the respect and understanding with which you have accepted this important decision. I will continue to accompany the journey of the Church through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Spouse, with which I have tried to live every day until now and with which I want to live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter: may the Lord accompany him with the light and the power of his Spirit.

Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community; we entrust ourselves to Her, with deep confidence.

Dear friends! God guides His Church, he sustaines her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is near us, he does not abandon us, he is near us and surrounds us with his love. Thank you!

[Translation by Peter Waymel/ZENIT News Agency]

You can view the final audience at http://youtu.be/saKWsdNUwbo

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Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI in Eucharistic AdorationMonday’s news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation of the papacy was for me, as indeed for many others, a bombshell. I candidly admit that news of his death would have been less shocking.

I remember very well the elation that swept over me on hearing the news that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected by the Conclave and that he had taken the name Benedict XVI. It was a case of hope against hope.

The media moguls and liberals were less enthused and on them a deep gloom settled: “definitely no change” they grumbled. They were not slow in chiding the new Pope for what they perceived as his naivety as in the case of the Regensburg address, which, raising Muslim ire, provoked unbelievable demonstrations in Islamic countries worldwide. The Holy Father by simply quoting the 13th century Byzantium Emperor Michael Paleologus who charged Islam with unreasonableness, allowed the reaction to prove the charge. Brilliant, I thought. The attempt to implicate him in the homosexual paedophile scandal failed miserably as it emerged that he, in fact, had done more than any other to tackle the issue. The condoms in Africa issue was another tinderbox from which he emerged as a master strategist. Pope Benedict’s defence of life and of the true meaning of human sexuality has been clear, consistent and unequivocal. For courageously calling abortion a “crime against society that kills the child and destroys the woman”, Planned Parenthood declared him a dangerous enemy. His statements, undoubtedly, angered the enemy outside the Church of which he is the Supreme Pastor.

The Holy Father provoked the enemy within by calling for an interpretation of Vatican II that is based upon a “hermeneutic of renewal in continuity”, that is, “what was sacred before the Council is sacred today.” He crystallised this call with the document Summorum Pontificum in which he declared that the Traditional Mass had never been abolished nor Latin forbidden. Suffice it to say that the reaction bordered on the hostile. In the words of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Church’s highest judicial authority after the Pope “There’s no question that there remains in certain places a resistance to what the Holy Father has asked, and that’s sad. It’s sometimes even an expression of disagreement with the Holy Father’s discipline and even an expression that this is harmful for the Church.”

The Holy Father’s attempt to establish continuity in a decree lifting the excommunications from the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X resulted in a pillorying by modernists within the Church, in a collaboration with secular Jews. In a letter to the world’s bishops, the Holy Father expressed sincere shock at the lack of fraternal charity on the part of those whom he naively assumed had reverence for his office and for himself. The betrayal by his own butler in the Vatileaks affair indicates how close the enemy inside is.

Pope Benedict cited “advanced age” and a lack of “strength of mind and body” as the factors that led him to conclude that he is incapable of “adequately fulfilling” the Petrine ministry. While he certainly is of advanced age, I think there are deeper reasons for his resignation. Pope Benedict is a master strategist. He has already set the Church on course. What is required now is a successor of the calibre of St Pius X, or St Gregory VII, or even St. Leo the Great or St. Gregory the Great, who will mete out the firm discipline that is necessary to protect the Faith and faithful from those who openly resist the corrections that are needed to avert the present day crisis.

Papal resignations are rare but not new. There have been four in history and all made for the greater good of Christ’s Church. The third century pope, St Pontian was the first Bishop of Rome to resign. During the persecutions of the Emperor Severus, he was arrested and sent to the salt mines in 235. He resigned his office in order that a successor could be elected in Rome. Pope St Martin was arrested by the emperor Constans because of his refusal to approve the Monothelite heresy. He resigned in 654 so that the Church could be free to elect his successor. St Celestine V, a hermit elected because of his personal holiness, found himself unsuited to the task and so, in 1294, resigned for the good of the Church. The last pope to step down was Gregory XII, who did so in 1415 in order to end the Great Western Schism. These four popes, like Christ who loved the Church and gave Himself up for her (Eph.5:25), all relinquished the Supreme Office for the good of the Church. Pope Benedict, for the good of the Church in a “world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith” has done the same.

No doubt, hopes are raised that the next pope will approve contraception, abortion, same sex marriage and other such like inanities. It will not happen, because the Lord Jesus has promised that gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. The next pope, regardless of the Continent from which he comes, will teach the perennial truths of faith. As people of faith in unseen realities, we must pray for Pope Benedict XVI and even more for the Conclave that will elect his successor.

A Reflection on Pope Benedict’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVIThis is one of the best reflections we here at Family Life International have seen on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI of his Petrine ministry.  It is from President Fahey, Thomas More College, and is well worth the read.

The Catholic world is largely shocked by the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter of resignation this morning.  The secular world assumes the worst—no, it desires the worst, and by insulation worms doubts into the minds of even the faithful.

The secular world will tear through the brief letter and fixate upon the line about a “world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.”  It will weave from these deconstructed words an existential tale of despair, scandal, and an authority which realizes it is no longer in touch with reality.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Benedict’s resignation is utterly consistent with his character.  It is traditional—he brings from our history and our law a fact and feature of the Papal Office: one can and—under certain circumstance—should put aside that office.

His resignation demonstrates once again the firm mark of a father and a teacher.   A father knows that his role is to provide example, instruction, and discipline, and ultimately put himself aside for the good of his own. The Petrine ministry is not exercised for a man, or for bishops and priests, or even for Catholics alone.  It is a ministry exercised for all those seeking God and for all those towards whom God’s mercy is extended.  It is a demanding office.

As with every text published by Benedict, this letter of resignation has no imbalance, flab, impression, or vagueness.  Not a word goes astray.  It is shot through with paternal love and professorial clarity.

An honest reading of this document can only lead to profound gratitude and sympathy for a suffering father who must understand each act and decision he makes as having “great importance for the life the Church.”  Read more…

Sadness at Pope Benedict’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVISadly this morning, Catholics in New Zealand, have woken to the news that our Holy Father, Benedict XVI has resigned from his position of leader of the Church.  What more is there to say than we love our Holy Father Benedict XVI.  He has remained steadfast in leading his flock through, what has been an incredibly trying time for the Church.

The photo attached to this blog post, is of the most priviliged moment in my life, where, along with my mother, Colleen Bayer,  I was able to meet with the Holy Father and present to him my 10 week old son, John Paul.  I will never forget the moment.  It was the week that the Irish sex abuse scandal had blown up in the media.  There were reporters all around the Vatican, all of them it seemed, trying to get negative commentary from the pilgrims.  As Pope Benedict made his way up the line of people at the General Audience that day, I could see the weight of the world on his shoulders, the pain in his eyes.  How these years must have been such a burden on him.  And it seems, the pressures, the attacks on life, faith, marriage and family are becoming more and more intense.  Sometimes the attacks come from within.  Pope Benedict’s joy that day was evident when the preciousness of new life was presented to him.  His eyes lit up, his face beamed.  He rejoiced in this child, named after his friend Blessed John Paul the Great.

We will continue to pray for Benedict XVI while he remains in office, and indeed for the rest of his life.  We pray for the Holy Spirit to guide His Church in these times of uncertainty.  Let us continue to stand strong in our faith.  Let us hold fast to the Truth.