Pope Benedict on his decision:
When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, , I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me. He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.
-Pope Benedict XVI, Last General Audience, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Video I captured of the shorter English greeting from the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square:
Here a few of us cheer for the Pope as he circles around the Square (Pictures are Matthew Rensch from the Diocese of Burlington and Luke Doyle from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas):
Reflections from the Pope’s Last Sunday Angelus:
An estimated 200,000 people flocked to St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s final Angelus with the faithful.
As I entered the square—barely getting in because there were so many people—I looked around me and saw nothing but faces everywhere. There wasn’t a free space available. A small boy came up to me and tugged on my coat, motioning in back of me. It was Lucas Gondreau, the son of my professor and friend Dr. Paul Gondreau from Providence College, who was at the Angelus with his wife, Christiana, and family. Talk about Divine Providence! It was a great joy to see the Gondreaus and to share with them this moment in history. Dr. Gondreau asked a very telling rhetorical question, “Tell me, what 85 year old man can summon a crowd like this?” I would think less than two.
The Holy Father spoke, and the crowds interrupted him sporadically, clapping and yelling “Grazie, Santo Padre!” We were listening to the Pope, we were learning from him again.