Today, February 28, 2014, marks the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s last day of his Papacy. He officially stepped down at 8:00 pm local time. It was a very emotional time; certainly, I was feeling a sense of sadness that we were losing someone very special. It’s not as if he were going to go away forever; as time has shown, the Pope Emeritus is still around, spending his time in prayer and, as he promised, pledging to Pope Francis his “unconditional reverence and obedience” (Farewell Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Eminent Cardinals Present in Rome, Clementine Hall, 28 February 2013).
There are some videos and podcasts that I think would be worth revisiting today. First, a video of the very last General Audience of Benedict XVI that took place on 27 February 2013. My friend, Fr Roderick Vonhögen, had livestreamed it at SQPN.com, and he provided commentary in English. The video is embedded below.
You can also read the official text in English of Pope Benedict’s catechesis for that day by clicking here.
Fr Roderick was in Rome during that time as well, doing commentary for Dutch TV. He managed to make time to record some podcasts. Here are the links to three episodes of Catholic Insider that document Benedict XVI’s last hours as pope:
- CIV003: Farewell to the Cardinals
- CIV004: Pope Benedict’s Departure
- CIV005: Arrival at Castel Gandolfo
One year later, I still think of Benedict’s courage in stepping down when he did, knowing his limitations. He said it very eloquently during his last General Audience: “Loving the Church means also having the courage to make difficult, painful decisions, always looking to the good of the Church and not of oneself” (General Audience, St. Peter’s Square, 27 February 2013). He always had the best interest of the church in mind, and he did it with a heart full of love.
His last words before imparting his final blessing to the people at Castel Gandolfo a few minutes before 8:00 pm local time:
“I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still, thank you, I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity. I feel greatly supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you” (Greeting of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the faithful of the Diocese of Albano, Central Loggia of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, 28 February 2013).
Thank you, indeed, our dear Pope Emeritus. You will always be in our hearts.