Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Thank You – Let Us Return to Prayer": For the Last Time, The Pope Leaves the Altar

Even for two millenia of a very full, never boring history, the Catholic Church has never seen a moment like this.

Remember, folks – the "new" St Peter's Basilica was only opened some three centuries after the last time a Pope resigned.

Amid thunderous, prolonged ovations as prelates and people alike were seen fighting back tears, here are the closing moments of Benedict XVI's final turn at the Altar of the Confession (homily), the spot situated literally upon the "rock" on which the papacy – and the 1.2 billion-member church it keeps together – is built....

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In a spontaneous move to underscore Joseph Ratzinger's impending departure from Peter's Chair, but with it, the endurance of a line stretching back to AD33, as Benedict departed his "home church" for the last time, the Sistine Choir burst into Palestrina's famous setting of the Roman pontiff's foundational mandate – Jesus' exhortation from the 16th chapter of St Matthew's Gospel....
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Of course, the tail-end of those words now ring the dome of the Vatican Basilica... and roughly a month from now, even before the cardinals' choice dons the white robes that come with his election and makes his first appearance before the waiting world outside, the Conclave's proto-deacon will proclaim them again while standing before Peter's 265th successor – the new Pope.