|My first memory of Pope Benedict XVI; being introduced to the world.|
"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 fulfil the ministry entrusted to me."
The last time a pope retired was in 1415 (Pope Gregory XII) so as you can see a pope retiring is kind of a big deal. Often a pope will see out their ministry until natural death. On the rare occasion a pope may be forcibly removed from office.
It's news that will sadden many Catholics around the world, myself included, because we remember when we heard the name of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger being announced over St. Peter's Square in April, 2005, 17 days after the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Pope Benedict was man of great intellect, an avid writer, and a man with the heart of shepherd tending to his flock. He has certainly left his mark on the Church and will leave behind a great legacy.
Catholics should take solace in the fact that Pope Benedict XVI will no doubt be present at the next conclave to be convened in March and whose voice will carry great weight in deciding whom will next sit in the chair of St. Peter. Whoever the next pope will be, he will be welcomed warmly by the world and embraced and celebrated at this year's World Youth Day in Rio de Janerio.
We are witnessing history once again, folks! It will once again be an exciting time to be a Catholic and we all eagerly anticipate those words to be heard [hopefully in March]: "Habemus Papam!" ("We have a Pope!").