We were all taken by surprise by today’s announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will step down from the Chair of Peter on February 28, but we were aware of the frailness of his condition from our last visit.
Of course our prayers are with him in his retirement and we thank God for the gift he has been to the Church and to the world. While his decision is not without precedent it is highly unusual and in my opinion is an indication of his great love and concern for the Church and its future.
Now we turn to the choice of his successor. The College of Cardinals, who are the Papal electors, will convene at the Vatican next month in a conclave to elect the next Pontiff. This is a prayerful process of discernment and we are confident that the Holy Spirit will guide their deliberations.
We must now await the outcome of these momentous events in faith and confidence in God. Please join me in prayers for Pope Benedict and the Papal electors.