-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Benedict XVI Meets With Cardinals on Last Day of Pontificate
Promises Unconditional Reverence and Obedience to Future Successor
By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY, February 28, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Pope Benedict XVI met with Cardinals and members of the Roman Curia on the last day of his pontificate. This evening the Holy Father will go to Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo where at 8pm his resignation will officially be in effect. The total number of Cardinals present at the meeting with the Pope was 144, according to Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office.
Prior to addressing the prelates, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, greeted the Holy Father on behalf of those present and expressed gratitude for the Pope's "selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of the Church of Christ and of all humanity."
Cardinal Sodano thanked the Holy Father for the example he has given to the Cardinals in the past eight years of his Pontificate. "Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: 'Were not our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way?,'" Cardinal Sodano said.
"Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts, too, burned while we walked with you these past eight years.Today we want to once again express our gratitude to you. We repeat in chorus a typical expression of your dear native land: Vergelt's Gott, may God reward you!"
The Church is a Living Reality
Addressing those present after Cardinal Sodano's words, Pope Benedict XVI in turn thanked Cardinal Sodano for his sentiments and reflected on the cardinals reference to the disciples of Emmaus, saying that for him as well, "it has been a joy to walk with you in these years, in the light of the presence of the Risen Lord."
"As I said yesterday, in front of the thousands of faithful filling St. Peter's Square, your closeness, your advice have been of great help to me in my ministry," the Holy Father said.
"In these eight years we have lived with faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the path of the Church, along with times when a few clouds have formed in the sky. We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love, which is the soul of our ministry. We have given hope, that which comes to us from Christ, and that alone can enlighten the way. Together we can thank the Lord, who has made us grow in communion; together we can beseech Him to help you grow still in this profound unity, so that the College of Cardinals may be like an orchestra, where the diversities, an expression of the universal Church, may always contribute to the greater, unifying harmony."
Pope Benedict noted a quote from Romano Guardini, a famed academic and priest during the time of the Second Vatican Council, who described the Church as "not an institution devised and built at a desk, but a living reality." The Holy Father went on to say that yesterday's audience showed that the Church is a living body and that it "truly lives by the power of God."
"It is in the world, but not of the world: it is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit," the Holy Father said.
Concluding his address, the Holy Father made a particular address to his future successor, offering obedience to whom the Cardinals will elect in the upcoming conclave.
"Among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom already today I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience," Pope Benedict said.
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On ZENIT's web page:
For the full text of Cardinal Sodano's address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/cardinal-sodano-s-address-to-the-holy-father
For the full text of Pope Benedict's address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-cardinals
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