As I received the news of Pope Benedict’s announced resignation from the papacy, I was, after the initial shock, overcome by a profound feeling of gratitude for the gift he has given the Church by lending his brilliance to the work Bl. John Paul II — the work of confirming and further developing the ecclesial shape of the reformation effected by the Second Vatican Council.
As with his namesake, the father of Western monasticism, St. Benedict of Nursia, Pope Benedict called for the stabilization of the Church ad intra as a prerequisite for the evangelization of the world ad extra. He called for a tradition-retrieving, vibrant and world-engaging orthodoxy of faith, rooted in the blazing charity of Christ and sustained in its new, outwardly-turned ardor by the sure hope that is within us.
Yesterday, as I prayed over the news I immediately thought of the words Pope Benedict spoke in his first address to the Cardinals who elected him; words that I am certain continue to sustain him in this time of decision:
Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: ‘Do not be afraid!’