Pope Francis: Thank you, Benedict, for praying for the church
Pope Francis publicly and affectionately thanked Benedict XVI, whose retirement from the papacy in 2103 shocked the world
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Tuesday sent a loving and public thank you to Benedict XVI, whose retirement from the papacy in 2103 shocked the Roman Catholic Church and the world.
Addressing tourists and Romans in St. Peter’s Square, Francis sparked applause when he recalled that it was the 70th anniversary of Benedict’s ordination to the priesthood in his native Germany.
Joseph Ratzinger later became a powerful Vatican official as the official guardian of the doctrinal orthodoxy of the Church. Then, in 2005, Ratzinger was elected pontiff by his fellow cardinals and chose the name of Benedict XVI. He announced in February 2013 his decision to retire two weeks later, the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
Benedict, now 94 years old and fragile, devotes his last years to prayer in a monastery in Vatican City. François said: “To you, Benoît, dear father and brother, our affection, our gratitude and our closeness go. “
Francis then noted in his remarks that Benedict “lives in the monastery, a desired place to welcome the contemplative community here in the Vatican, so that they can pray for the church”.
“Currently, he is the contemplative of the Vatican, who spends his life praying for the church and for the diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop emeritus,” said Francis.
“Thank you, Benoît, dear father and brother. Thank you for your credible testimony,” added François.
He concluded with another expression of gratitude, saying, “Thank you for your gaze always on the horizon of God, thank you. “
Some Church observers have expressed unease at the reality of having a retired and current pontiff both living in the Vatican. Others criticized the retirement decision itself.
Francis, 84, occasionally visits Benedict at the monastery. The current pope has also indicated that if, like Benedict, he felt he no longer had the strength to carry out the mission of a pontiff in the church, he might consider resigning himself.