Farewell Holy Father, we're praying for you

a word from bishop les 2 350px

With great surprise tinged with sadness, the Church learned recently of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. During his reign, he has been a faithful witness to Christ, and in this decision, he teaches us with his integrity and humility, putting the needs of the Church first. Such a message is most appropriate as we embark once again on the pilgrimage of Lent.

The constant theme in Pope Benedict’s teachings and writings has been the need for an authentic personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In  the concluding paragraph of his recent Lenten Pastoral letter,   Pope Benedict put before us the beautiful words of St John ‘We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us’ (1 Jn 4:16).  Moreover, he reminded us that the celebration of Lent, in the context of the Year of Faith, offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God – the God of Jesus Christ – and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.

The efforts of this pope to achieve peace in the world, as well as his ecumenical outreach have been a feature of his papacy. It is to be hoped that the tireless efforts of Pope Benedict XVI in fostering the unity and communion of the Church may bear fruit in our hearts and among all Christians. Furthermore, his faithfulness to the proclamation of the Paschal mystery as well as his constant care, concern and outreach for the poor, the sick, and oppressed have been central to his agenda. In summary, Pope Benedict’s contributions have been such that they assist the Church to face this moment in great hope.

Therefore, we should pray that Pope Benedict XVI, who has served the Church faithfully as Supreme Pontiff, may find peace and consolation as he turns to a life of prayer for the Church. I invite all in our Diocese to offer special prayers for Pope Benedict XVI, for his health and well-being, and in thanksgiving for his service to the Church.  I encourage you to reactivate the custom of praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father, especially with school children. Of course, the recitation of the Rosary would be a wonderful way to pray for His Holiness.

The election of Pope Benedict’s successor is creating great interest. Catholics the world over hope and pray that the College of Cardinals in its electoral process may be a worthy vehicle of God’s grace guiding the Church.  I urge you to join with me in prayer that the Holy Spirit will inspire and strengthen the Cardinal-electors as they choose a new Holy Father to lead us.

So, in conclusion, I wish to express gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI, who preached that God is love and that we are saved in hope; and pray that he may be strengthened in hope and know God’s love for him now, and for all eternity.

In conclusion, I pass on to you, the concluding words of Pope Benedict in his Lenten Pastoral Letter:
‘in this season of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection – in which the love of God redeemed the world and shone its light upon history – I express my wish that all of you may spend this precious time rekindling your faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives. For this intention, I raise my prayer to God, and I invoke the Lord’s blessing upon each individual and upon every community!’  Pope Benedict (Vatican October 2012)

   - Bishop Les Tomlinson, Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst, March 2013