Today Pope Benedict XVI gave the final Wednesday address if his pontificate to an estimated crowd of 200,000. With heartfelt thanks to those gathered, Benedict offered his personal reflections on his pontificate and his prayers for the Church moving forward.
In what was a thoroughly profound address, Benedict reassured the Church that Christ does and will continue to care for His “barque”.
When, almost eight years ago, on April 19th, , I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry, I held steadfast in this certainty, which has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already stated several times, the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me? It a great weight that You place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord really has guided me.
He has been close to me: daily could I feel His presence. [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments joy and light, but also difficult moments. I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep. Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in the barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink. It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He desired that it be so.
This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.
Read the address in full, with commentary, courtesy of Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia.
Please join Catholics United for the Faith in praying not only for the Church and her future Pontiff, but also in thanksgiving for the unrepeatable gift of Pope Benedict XVI. May the Lord continue to strengthen and guide him as he retires to a life of prayer and contemplation.