I'm sure by now everyone has heard the news: Pope Benedict XVI has submitted a letter of resignation from his position as the pope. Some reporters are trying to say, "We knew this was going to happen." Doubtful. Even reporters in Rome are in shock.
The last time a pope resigned was back in the 1400's. It is hard to grasp what this means, other than that we will soon have a new pope. What I DO know is that we should all be praying with great fervency for the college of cardinals. They have a great burden of decision on them, that absolutely must be directed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In 2005, Pope John Paul II passed away. At that time, though I was not Catholic, I instinctively knew this was a historical moment for, not just the Catholic Church, but for all Christians throughout the world. That evening, our family attended Mass at St. Stephen's Catholic Church, just to show our support and prayer for all of our brothers and sisters. We had no idea that, two years later, we too would be Catholic. And that the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI, would be the supreme bishop of the Church to which we would belong.
His position on issues of life and morality have been voiced without apology: Life is precious. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Families need our support, as they are the moorings of a society.
He has consistently promoted and preached the message of the New Evangelization: Reach those who have never heard the Gospel. Reach those who have heard, but have not taken it to heart. Rekindle the flame in your own heart.
Thank you, Pope Benedict, for the strong leadership you have given us. May God bless you as you allow Him to use you in new ways. And may God give us a man who will, as you have, cling to the message of the Cross with unwavering fervency.
For a great perspective on Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, see this article by Ryan Eggenberger.