Longer Statement on the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, February 11, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Statement on the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
Requested by the Anchor and other Outlets
February 11, 2013

In 2010, in the book length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict told Peter Seewald, “If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, an obligation to resign.”

It’s clear by his shocking declaration this morning that Pope Benedict thinks he has reached that point.

When he was elected on April 19, 2005, he introduced himself to the Church as a “simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard,” and his genuine humility before the duties of his office remains striking today. While many of us have been more than satisfied at the level with which he was continuing to serve the whole Church at 85 — most especially in his teaching office — it’s clear that he believes that the ministry of the successor of St. Peter requires more than he thinks he is physically capable of giving.

It’s easy to understand his conclusion. Very few octogenarians would have the stamina to fulfill the Pope’s daily schedule of continuous high-level meetings and speeches, not to mention grueling international travel and a liturgical schedule awaiting him during Holy Week that has been known to wipe out priests half his age.

It’s clear from his statement that he, having repeatedly examined his conscience before God, thinks that this is what the Lord is asking of him at this time. So his decision today is fundamentally not a “no” to the burdens of the papacy but one more “yes” in a lifetime of faithful yeses to what the Lord has asked of him.

He himself has taught us repeatedly that the most important thing we do is prayer and so he is prioritizing that work even above the ministry of the papacy.

So, as stunned and personally disappointed as I am in the news — it was such a joy to have a living doctor of the Church on the cathedra of Peter — I can do nothing but pray for him and support him. With great humility, he reminded us in his statement that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Pastor of the Church and that his service as Good Shepherd will have no interregnum.

I’m grateful for his eight years of service in which he pushed himself to the limit and I ask the Supreme Pastor to bless him with the reward given to all good and faithful servants.

When he was elected on April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict introduced himself to the Church as a “simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard,” and his genuine humility before the duties of his office remains striking today.

While many of us have been more than satisfied at the level with which he was continuing to serve the whole Church at 85 — most especially in his teaching office — it’s clear that he believes that the ministry of the successor of St. Peter requires more than he thinks he is physically capable of giving.

It’s easy to understand his conclusion. Very few octogenarians would have the stamina to fulfill the Pope’s daily schedule of continuous high-level meetings and speeches, not to mention grueling international travel and a liturgical schedule awaiting him during Holy Week that has been known to wipe out priests half his age.

Having repeatedly examined his conscience before God, he believes that this is what the Lord is asking of him at this time. So his decision today is fundamentally not a “no” to the burdens of the papacy but one more “yes” in a lifetime of faithful yeses to what the Lord is asking of him.

He himself has taught us repeatedly that the most important thing we do is prayer and so he is prioritizing that work in the years he has left even above the supremely important ministry of the papacy.

I’m grateful for his eight years of service in which he pushed himself to the limit and I ask the Supreme Pastor — whom Pope Benedict reminds us is the one who guides the Church, and who will never have an interregnum — to bless him with the reward given to all good and faithful servants.

Fr. Roger J. Landry

Chaplain, Catholic Voices USA

Pastor, St. Bernadette’s Parish, Fall River, MA