The news is still painfully fresh. We are still digesting the idea that you are resigning from the papacy, a step that has not been taken, we understand, since the 1400s.
We understand that your health and strength are failing you. Certainly we all watched, transfixed, as your predecessor almost literally died in our arms, his suffering and death broadcast far and wide for all the world to see. And while we admired his unswerving courage, some of us couldn’t help but worry about what was transpiring in Holy Mother Church as our pontiff lay dying for so long.
We must pray with renewed fervor, hope, and trust in God’s goodness. Peter’s boat will never sink. God has a plan.
So that is why we understand your courageous decision now. You are telling us that the bark of Saint Peter requires the strength and focus of a vigorous man in these stormy seas. And we know that you are right.
Gone are the days when an aged and ailing pope could retire to the papal apartments and fade away. The media requires an active pope who’s constantly in touch with the world. Your doctors have been honest with you, and you are honest with the world.
Yours is a selfless gesture from a selfless and holy man. And we thank God for your many decades of selfless service, your patience and your bravery. But we will miss you — your intelligence, your gentleness and your great love for the Church. We must pray with renewed fervor, hope, and trust in God’s goodness. Peter’s boat will never sink. God has a plan.
This Lent, we pray for you, Holy Father and for the cardinals who are choosing your successor. May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, guide you and the Church in the difficult days ahead.
It is with deep gratitude that we dedicate REGINA to you, Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. May God bless you always!