VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI thanked members of the Roman Curia “for these eight years during which you have helped me carry the burden of the Petrine ministry with great competence, affection, love and faith.”
The pope make his remarks this morning at the end of his annual Lenten retreat with his top collaborators. Since last Sunday evening, the pope and Vatican officials had been gathered in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace for prayer, eucharistic adoration and 17 meditations offered by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The pope said that while his close collaboration with the Curia officials would end, their “spiritual closeness” would remain, as would “a profound communion in prayer.”
“With this certainty, let us move forward, certain of the victory of God, certain of truth, beauty and love,” he said.
Vatican Radio said Cardinal Ravasi ended the retreat by telling the pope that other members of the Curia wanted him to express their affection for him and some “told me to ask forgiveness for the ways we were unable to support you in your ministry.”
The cardinal said it was most appropriate, though, simply “to thank you for your teaching and your ministry.”
Cardinal Ravasi said the pope’s ministry will continue in a different form, with what the cardinal described as the pope’s “hiding” or withdrawal from public life.