Friday, February 22, 2013

A Pope Resigns... The Chair Remains

“There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength....
–Pope Benedict XVI
Encylical Letter Deus Caritas Est (35)
25 December 2006
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After a friend wisely pointed it out in the wake of last Monday's announcement, the line seems especially fitting to today's feast amid these epic circumstances.

At top, B16 is shown during an April 2009 trip to L'Aquila as he placed the "papal pallium" with which he was installed on the tomb of Celestine V – the last Pope to voluntarily renounce the office in 1294... an act for which he was subsequently condemned to hell by Dante for committing what the poet termed the "great refusal."

At the time, the unusual move was described by the Vatican an act of "homage."  But now, even the wider world knows what it really meant.

And with that, on to the unprecedented Last Hurrah of a transformative pontificate, to say nothing of the distinctly uncertain road that lies ahead.

Hard to believe, Harry... hard to believe.

PHOTO: L'Osservatore Romano(1)