At Mass of Thanksgiving Cardinal Wuerl thanks Pope Benedict XVI for his guidance, leadership and pastoral love

“While he will step aside from that chair, while he may leave his Petrine office, he will never leave our hearts which are filled with respect, admiration and love for him.”

February 24, 2013

At a Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict XVI today, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington gathered with the faithful to offer thanksgiving to God for the gift of Pope Benedict XVI.

In his homily at the Mass that was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Cardinal Wuerl said that now that the surprise of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement to resign has lessened, “We are able to recognize that our Holy Father’s action speaks to us of his greatness and his ability to recognize the needs of the Church Universal today and his own estimation of the demands of the Papal office.” He continued, “Now that some of the dust has settled, we are able clearly to see the courage, humility and honesty of our Holy Father that would lead him to say that it would be better that someone with more energy serve as Chief Shepherd of the Church at this time.”

Jesus promised Peter that he would be the rock or foundation on which he, Jesus, would build his Church. (Matthew 16: 17-19) The pope is the bishop of Rome and the successor to St. Peter. Cardinal Wuerl said Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign provided an opportunity to reflect not only on the role of Peter, but how that ministry is exercised today. “Papal service in our day, more than ever, includes a ministry of presence. It often involves extensive travel around the world to visit and pray with the faithful. The Petrine Office is exercised today in an age of instantaneous communication, where social media dominate how we relate to one another, and how, therefore, the voice of Peter must be articulated to be heard.”

Cardinal Wuerl said two things come to mind when thinking about the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI. “The task of the New Evangelization will always bear the mark of this Pope. In a way, he made it the hallmark of his Pontificate. Not only did he define it as the re-proposing of the Gospel to the people of our age and culture, but he told us it consists of the ordinary ongoing catechesis that is the formation of every believer, the outreach to those who have never heard of Christ, and the special effort to touch those who have been baptized and have fallen away from the practice of the faith. He challenged us to renew our own faith so that we would find renewed confidence in the truth of God’s Word and then be able to share it with others.”

“Pope Benedict XVI will also be remembered, I believe, for his enduring commitment to the compatibility and complementarity of faith and reason as we make our way through life, blessed with both the gift of our intellect and a capability to hear also the revelation of God, “ said the Cardinal.

“Today, then, our hearts are filled with both faith and love. We renew our faith in the continuing presence of Christ, our Lord and teacher, in the teaching office symbolized by the Chair of Peter, and we also have hearts filled with love for the person who for nearly eight years has sat in that chair – Pope Benedict XVI.”

“While he will step aside from that chair, while he may leave his Petrine office, he will never leave our hearts which are filled with respect, admiration and love for him. So we say today, as we celebrate the ministry of Saint Peter the Apostle, thank you Pope Benedict for your guidance, for your leadership, for your pastoral love,” Cardinal Wuerl said.

Chieko Noguchi
Office of Media and Public Relations
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