The seat of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter, is now empty. The now Pontiff Emeritus Benedict XVI has left the Vatican and we await the conclave where the cardinals, guided by the Holy Spirit, will appoint his successor.
I don’t really remember the death of Bl. Pope John Paul II, or the conclave that followed. I would have been about 14, and I remember watching the funeral on television with my mother. This time there was no funeral, but I watched the departure of the Holy Father from the Vatican and his final blessing as Pope with tears in my eyes.
For a quiet, scholarly man like Benedict his election to the papacy cannot have been easy, especially when you consider he had asked to retire but was asked to continue. He took up the responsibilities given to him with a humble obedience and humility that has always inspired me. Even though they may have been contrary to his own desires, he willingly put those aside to take up the work that was God’s will for him. And for eight years he has dutifully lead the Church as the successor of Peter, and in that same humility and obedience he set aside his office to allow someone else to continue. This is not an end, but a beautiful continuation. The Church and the papacy will stand and endure as it has since Christ and since Peter. This is not an end for Benedict either, but a continuation of his acting out the will of God. He is continuing his work for the Church, simply in a different way. Let us pray in the upcoming weeks for the cardinals as they prepare for the conclave, that they will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and continue to trust that Christ will watch over the Church.
“Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
There is so much more I could say but I will just end with this: thank you, Pope Benedict for being an inspiration to so many and to me.