Pope Benedict: I am not abandoning the church

Pope greets crowd as he arrives to lead final Angelus at Vatican (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Benedict greets the crowd in St. Peter’s Square as he arrives to lead his final Angelus at the Vatican (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — In one of his last public appearances, Pope Benedict XVI told an overflow crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday that his upcoming retirement does not mean he is abandoning the church, but that he will be serving it in a new way, through prayer and meditation.

At noon the pope appeared at his window in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus, a papal Sunday ritual that will not be repeated until after the election of a new pope.

Despite the blustery weather, turnout was several times the usual for such occasions — easily over 150,000, with some estimates as high as a quarter of a million. The crowd filled the Square except where prevented by barricades, and spilled out into the Via della Conciliazione. Many groups held signs expressing gratitude and affection — “You are not alone,” one read — and national flags from countries as far away as Brazil.

“Prayer doesn’t mean isolating one’s self from the world and its contradictions,” the pope said, “prayer leads one back to the path, to action.

“Christian existence,” he said, “consists in a continuous climbing of the mountain for an encounter with God, in order to descend again bearing the love and strength derived from it, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with the same love of God.”

If the relevance to his Feb. 28 resignation was not already clear, the Pope made the connection explicit:

I feel that this word of God is directed in particular to me, in this moment of my life. The Lord calls me to “climb the mountain,” to dedicate myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the church, on the contrary, if God asks this of me it is precisely so that I may continue to serve (the church) with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done so till now, but in a way more suited to my age and strength.

Speaking these words, Pope Benedict was interrupted twice by applause, and afterwards received an ovation 30 seconds long. He smiled broadly, thanked the crowd, and added: “Let us thank God for the bit of sun he has granted us.”

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9 Responses to Pope Benedict: I am not abandoning the church

  1. Norm Chouinard says:

    Grazie, Papa!

  2. Charlotte says:

    I will miss you very much and pray for a peaceful, happy retirement for you. Also, hope for more writing. Love you, Pope Benedict XVI.

  3. Sara says:

    God Bless him always – I will miss him dearly. I too hope for more writing as such a luminous mind cannot simply be removed from us. I will pray for him that he regains his strength and is able to write some for us as this beautiful theological mind and writing ability is one of his particular charisms from God and should not be silenced until he has gone home. I in no way think this would be a problem for a new Holy Father – on the contrary a great blessing!

  4. Denis says:

    Catholics in India number 17.6 million. All Christians put together number 24,080,016. It’s not a small number! But the news of Pope Benedict has had only a ripple in their country. Along with the hugely difficult task of purifying the Church, the future Pope will have to reach out to the largest democracy of the world encouraging participation of the laity in the Indian Church.

  5. Ernest.o.uzokwe says:

    The catholic chuch. Is a routh to make heven, please handle with care all case. God be with us. Amen.

  6. Bea Zamora says:

    May all of us “Do whatever Jesus tells us.” Grazie, Papa Benedetto for the almost 8 years of your great pontificate and for your shining example of humility and dedication to the Lord. May the Lord be truly glorified even in your retirement to a life of prayer and meditation and in our individual lives as well, and also in the Roman Catholic Church.





  9. Therese says:

    We love you Pope Benedict. Wish you Holiness endless blessings of the Lord & good health & happy, peaceful retirement. Sri Lanka

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