Pope Benedict’s Bittersweet Exit from the Papal Stage

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

It’s not quite, theologically speaking, a stage, of course. But the papacy does afford a man one; the Chair of Peter is a powerful voice in the world to preach and live the Word and sacraments. Today has been a day of warm and grateful farewells. For those of us who look to this man as a father, it is filled with thanksgiving and sadness.

From Rome, Cardinal Dolan said on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel (129):

From a natural point of view, it is good to be back. I always enjoy coming to Rome. From a spiritual point of view, which would dominate these days, I have to admit to you, there’s a note of somberness. Because I guess it didn’t strike me until today, tangibly, that Pope Benedict is leaving. He’s been Pope for eight years. When you gauge that with other pontificates that’s not exceptionally long, but it dawned on me today what an impact he’s had on my life spiritually, in his magisterium, in his teaching, in his books, in his preaching. A personal impact upon me. My Lord, he’s the one who appointed me to be Archbishop of New York. He’s the one that made me a Cardinal. So it dawned on me today when I saw him how much I’ll miss him.

For some of us this is deeply personal and for some very unsettling. It is a tremendous opportunity for reflection for everyone who professes to be Catholic. What does it mean to be Catholic? How do we live it? Where do we see it? How do we contribute to the culture as Catholics?

This is a moment for reflection and prayer and not just for cardinals. Specific prayers for the Church have popped up in recent weeks. I quite like this one, too. 

In anticipation of his farewell moment later (seen in a previous post) with the Holy Father, Cardinal Dolan also said:

I’ll just be very personal and say to him what I just said to you all. “I love you very much. I’m grateful to you. I’ll never forget you. I am going to ask him to do me a favor and do the Church a favor and keep writing. Keep writing, Holy Father. We need your teaching.” We need his teaching as a theologian. He’s not going to be teaching as a successor of St. Peter but still teach us because what a magnificent theologian he is.

My thoughts, by the way, on Cardinal Dolan’s papal prospects, are here and here

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