Pope Benedict's Retirement: A Remembrance
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I cannot believe it has been a year since Benedict XVI announced his retirement. A phone call woke me that morning a year ago. It was CNN, requesting an interview for their morning show.

I quickly called a high placed contact in Rome. He had been in the room when Benedict announced his intentions in Latin. Since my source was one of the few people present who spoke Latin, he got the point immediately. In the moment, no one could really believe it--least of all those in the Curia. Some thought they might have misheard what Benedict was saying. After all, a papal resignation hadn't occurred in 600 years.

For all the reductive and sloppy reporting about Benedict, it reminds us just what an original thinker and a bold man of action he could be. Like his reforms of the Mass, his resignation will have far reaching effects into the future. In his humble way, Benedict's ministry continues. A year later, the global embrace of Pope Francis has been nothing short of astounding and it would not have been possible without Benedict's humble act. The Church moves forward with two popes now: one active and engaging the world, the other retired to the Vatican Gardens, consigned to a quiet life of prayer and writing. Without a doubt it is a curious arrangement. But perhaps it is just what the times and the Holy Spirit require.

Here's an exerpt from the statement Benedict offered to his Curial cardinals a year ago today: "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...For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."

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