Retirement of Pope Benedict XVI

February 27, 2013

This week, we are passing a significant moment.  When we remember Church events in the past, we always say that they took place when John XXIII, Paul VI or John Paul II was Pope.  Their personalities and leadership set the context of when the event occurred. During his time, Benedict XVI continued the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and offered clear direction for the future. He now will join the ranks of his predecessors in how we remember his place in Church history.

In looking back upon the Pontificate of Benedict, he was a person of deep reflection and prayer, which can be seen in his writings and teachings during his papacy.  Hearing him speak as a cardinal and as our pope during the last years, I was struck by the clarity of his understanding of the faith. 

I was also impressed by the humility which he lived. When Benedict was a cardinal, he would walk to work at the Congregation carrying his brief case each day.  As a cardinal and as Pope, he listened to what you had to say, and he responded to your proposals with gentleness.  He gave you the feeling that he was genuinely concerned for your needs.  As Pope, he acted with the interest of the whole Church, even in his decision to retire.

Personally, I thank Pope Benedict for his trust and support in me when he appointed me as Bishop of the Eparchy of Passaic and as Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh.  The reception of the omophor from him at Saint Peter’s Basilica will remain my most treasured memory of my life and of his time as Pope.

We pray for the Conclave of Cardinals, that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit to call another worthy and holy successor of Peter to serve the needs of the Catholic Church throughout the world.

May God grant His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI peace, health and happiness for many blessed years!