My take, which I did not send to anyone is sheer gratitude for God's having given us Pope Benedict for eight years.
My goodness, think of what that man has done for us. The homily series full of teaching about saints, apostles, Fathers of the Church, prayer, and more. The Jesus of Nazareth books and the encyclicals. The trips all over the world. Assigning bishops who will be true good shepherds to us. And then preparing to spend his days in prayer for us.
I think that reading his general audience homilies, courtesy of the Curt Jester, has taken my appreciation and love of our Papa to a new level, so perhaps I feel this more than others might.
For anyone wanting more of my opinion, I think that reading the essence of what I advised our RCIA group about will give an answer. So, here it is ...
I did want to offer a bit of guidance about Pope Benedict's resignation, based on my experience as a Catholic when Pope John Paul II died and Pope Benedict was elected.
- Speculation about the reasons for the resignation and why it is good / bad.
- How bad / good this is for the Church. Especially at this particular moment in history!
- How we need a more progressive / conservative pope than Pope Benedict.
- Speculation about who will be elected as the next pope. That speculation is rarely correct, by the way. Very few, if any would have picked Josef Ratzinger to be the next pope.
I tend to ignore it as much as possible.
And most of it doesn't matter to us much anyway because this is an election that only the cardinals will take part in. (Here's how the election works, if you want to know more.)
What we can do that is helpful is to pray.
Pray for Pope Benedict's future. I myself am so thankful that we were given such a good shepherd, who did so very much in 8 years, as Pope Benedict.
Pray that the cardinals will be guided by the Holy Spirit and select the person God wants to be our good shepherd.
Since the rules call for the cardinals to gather within 15 days of the pope leaving (whether by death or resignation) we will likely have a new pope before Easter.
If you get your news from the Vatican instead of American media, that may help filter out some of the extra chatter.
The full text of the Pope's announcement follows. I got this from CNA (Catholic News Agency) which is a trustworthy source.
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. 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. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. 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.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI