Exactly one year ago today Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican for the last time as Supreme Pontiff, Pope, to the Universal Church. Who can forget the images beamed live across the world of our Holy Father leaving the papal apartment with aides in tears.
We watched as thousands of people gathered around St. Peter’s carrying banners of gratitude and affection. Benedict XVI no doubt saw them as the helicopter lifted off to take him to Castel Gandolfo to retreat from public life to a life of prayer for the Church. His final words and blessing to those assembled in the village demonstrated fatherly love and deep humility in the Lord. Then that final moment came when at 8pm Rome time (7pm U.K. time), the gates to the papal villa were closed and the Papal Guard stood down as the resignation took effect.
The Church owes a debt of gratitude for the Pope Emeritus and his Pontificate. He taught us the depths of understanding our faith, teaching us why we believe what we believe. He also showed the world that reason and faith are not opposed, and humbly stepped aside when his task was done making way for a Pope who practically shows us how to live the faith described.
May God continue to bless His Holiness Benedict XVI in his retirement and also continue to inspire and bless His Holiness Pope Francis in the mission that lay ahead. Let us keep both of them in our prayers at this extraordinary and special time for the Church.