One Year Ago

One year ago today, Pope Benedict announced his resignation.

It has been a crazy ride ever since!

Remember what happened later that day?

The photo from Agence France-Presse:

The Holy Father: ipsissimis verbis!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Bosco says:

    A sad day indeed and certainly not a propitious sign! Nor was the earthquake that hit Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s home, Castel Gandolfo, shortly after his resignation and while the conclave was preparing to elect the new Pope Francis. It’s been gulls, and ravens, and doves ever since.

  2. StWinefride says:

    I am reading Blessed Elisabetta Canori Mora’s diary at the moment. That picture reminds me of one her visions:

    On January 16, 1815, angels showed her “many ecclesiastics who persecute Jesus Crucified and His holy Gospel under the guise of doing good…Like furious wolves they scheme to pull the Church leader down from his throne.” Then she was allowed to see the terrible indignation these wolves aroused in God. “In terror I saw the blazing lightening bolts of Divine Justice fall about me. I saw buildings collapsing in ruins. Cities, regions and the whole world fell into chaos. One heard nothing but countless weak voices calling out for mercy. Countless people will be killed.”

    What terrified her the most was God’s anger. She saw Him “extremely angry with those who persecute Him. His omnipotent hands were holding bolts of lightening, His face was resplendent with indignation and His gaze alone was enough to incinerate the whole world.” The vision lasted but an instant, whereupon she recalled, “had it continued for another moment I surely would have died.”

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  3. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    Some anti-Catholics suggested that the pope resigned to escape criminal charges for allegedly “covering up” sex abuse by priests.

    But how could a sitting pope (who as a head of state has diplomatic immunity) be indicted by the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity” but not a retired pope?

    Does this make sense?

  4. StJude says:

    Still makes me sad.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    Very sad, but nothing we can do about that. The best we can do is live our faith as he would want us to, letting his example inspire us as we continue his work in reforming the Sacred Liturgy, all the while making his words our own: “I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience” to His Holiness Pope Francis.

  6. TNCath says:

    Thank you, Pope Benedict. Your legacy to our Church will never be forgotten.

    Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco…

  7. Once I ascertained that the announcement was not a joke, my first thought was: I didn’t pray hard enough for him.

    What I found at least as stunning as the announcement of Pope Benedict’s abdication was the fact that, at my cathedral parish, not a single syllable was said at the Ash Wednesday Mass that same week about this earthquake that had just stricken the Church. Not a word of acknowledgment, let alone comfort or reassurance.

  8. Priam1184 says:

    Regarding the lightning, didn’t a comet or a meteor or something explode over some part of Siberia the next day too?

  9. mysticalrose says:

    I am, quite frankly, still shocked and saddened by all this. All I can do is pray — for Pope Francis, for Benedict XVI, for the Church. But as much as I love Benedict XVI, I still am not buying the whole “humility” narrative that many conservatives have been arguing for over the past year. I heard a priest preach that the papal resignation/abdication was a revolutionary act. Indeed.

  10. dp0p says:

    The Day the Pope Resigned
    (originally posted February 28, 2013 at 3:14pm, with apologies to Don McLean)

    A long, long time ago,
    among the twelve apostles, Simon in his faith was first.
    The Lord renamed him Peter, made him the Church’s leader,
    “Vicar of the Christ” on earth.
    Since then two thousand years have passed, the Church has grown to numbers vast.
    We’ve had both good and bad popes, and lately we’ve had high hopes,
    following John Paul’s design, each pope would serve e’en in decline,
    trusting in a plan divine—but then, the Pope resigned.

    So why, why, O Your Holiness, why?
    In Church tradition even aging popes still serve till they die.
    Was it blackmail or a crisis or a word from on High?
    What made you think that you should resign?

    You wrote encyclicals on love and the need for faith in God above,
    on Bible and philosophy.
    You believed in sacred liturgy, in chant, and old polyphony,
    taught us to love solemnity.
    Well, I know you’re not afraid of death, ‘cause I read Jesus of Nazareth,
    but you slipped off the Fisherman’s shoes, and we’ve heard the awful news….
    He was a lonely teenage Nazi youth with a priest’s vocation and a passion for truth,
    but now he’s grown long in the tooth, and so the Pope resigned.

    Questions are ling’ring—why, why, O Your Holiness, why?
    In Church tradition even aging popes still serve till they die.
    Was it blackmail or a crisis or a word from on High?
    What made you think that you should resign?

    We’ve heard that popes resigned before, but it wouldn’t happen any more,
    and that is how it ought to be.
    You took your ordination vow and set your hand to the Master’s plow—
    no turning back from ministry—
    but you cast aside your platinum crown and soon the wolves will circle ’round.
    The papal court adjourns while the speculation churns.
    For folks with more progressive views on ministry, it’s happy news,
    while we sing dirges in the pews, the day the Pope resigns.

    So why, why, O Your Holiness, why?
    In Church tradition even aging popes still serve till they die.
    Was it blackmail or a crisis or a word from on High?
    What made you think that you should resign?

    The cardinals all crack a smile and speak with practiced serpents’ guile,
    reporters salivate with glee.
    Will it be Turkson or Ouellet? Might Scherer be a better bet
    among the top papabili?
    Can it matter that the man is frail whom Jesus promised would prevail
    against the gates of Hell? Can he not face old age well?
    Bishops ready for the lion’s den of NPR and CNN
    with carefully preparéd lines the day the Pope resigns.

    The phones are ringing, why, why, O Your Holiness, why?
    In Church tradition even aging popes still serve till they die.
    Was it blackmail or a crisis or a word from on High?
    What made you think that you should resign?

    Successor of Christ’s chosen Rock, chief shepherd of the worldwide flock—
    he left by chopper just today.
    Eight years ago in Saint Peter’s Square, “santo subito” cries filled the air,
    but few now take the time to pray.
    For centuries, an empty See would be tolled slowly, solemnly.
    This time, the pope’s retired: Church bells won’t be required.
    For Benedict, raise one last toast, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    as the Swiss Guard finally leave their post the day the Pope resigned.

    Quo vadis, Petre? Why, why, O Your Holiness, why?
    In Church tradition even aging popes still serve till they die.
    Was it blackmail or a crisis or a word from on High?
    What made you think that you should resign?
    What made you think that you should resign?

  11. Robbie says:

    This is a very disappointing anniversary for me. In an instant, the slow motion return to tradition was upended by Benedict’s announcement. At the time, I thought his resignation was a mistake and I still feel so today. Most importantly, I felt two living popes opened the door to a potential schism, especially if the successor was starkly different from his predecessor. In fact, I believe it was Cardinal Estevez who voiced a similar concern in 2002 or 2003 when rumors persisted JPII might abdicate.

    I also felt Benedict’s abdication was a victory for the modernist forces in the Vatican who worked against his agenda, especially through Vatileaks. I don’t think it’s any coincidence the negative leaks ceased the moment Benedict announced he was leaving the papacy. By suddenly announcing this momentous move, he effectively validated this underhanded effort as an effective tool to use against a pontiff. And however much I disagree with some aspects of the current Pope’s agenda, I hope we never see the conservative and traditional portions of the Vatican work to undermine Francis in such a way.

    Although my disappointment remains palpable, I can’t thank Benedict enough for unlocking the Mass of the Ages from its prison sentence. An entire generation of Catholics was reintroduced to the beauty and solemnity of the TLM and that genie can’t be put back in the box no matter how hard some try. I miss the days of laced rochets and the ermine trimmed mozzetta, but it, too, has been reintroduced to a new generation and it’s not going away either.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    I trust the Pope Emeritus as a holy man. I believe God told him in prayer a long time ago to step down at some time. When he placed his pallium on the grave of Pope Celestine V in 2009, that was something I noticed as this highly brilliant man would do nothing gratuitously. Then, he visited the tomb again.

    He was telling us he would resign. When someone phoned me and told me, this action was the first thing I thought of….God is in charge of the Church. And, God was leading Benedict the entire time when he was cardinal and pope.

  13. Shane says:

    I see that I am not the only for whom this anniversary does not mark a happy occasion.

  14. Eugene says:

    Most Catholics (clergy and lay) were not worthy of this great man. The good he did through the years serving as head of the CDF and then as Pope will never be accepted or acknowledged by the majority of Catholics (lay, religious or clerical) for most have the liberal mindset.
    I use an example form my own family where the majority heap praises on Pope Francis and refer to Pope Benedict in unflattering terms, I guess at the heart of it its about style and not substance. I sincerely miss this great shepherd and I remember being somewhat in shock when I first heard the news a year.
    Having said all this I continue to pray often for our Emeritus Pope and for Pope Francis, who I am sure never dreamed of or aspired to be in the position he is in.
    I pray for Benedict’s consolation and intentions and for Francis’ ability to clearly enunciate and strongly defend church teachings and to support its’ liturgical traditions and of course for his intentions.

  15. Robbie says:

    I can still remember the first words I spoke when my Father informed me of the news. They were, “A pope can’t do that!”

  16. trespinos says:

    I’ve never doubted that Pope Benedict XVI truly felt his physical condition rapidly worsening–despite the reassuring statements of the spokesmen–and did not want to see the papacy paralyzed during a lingering sickness such as his predecessor endured. And indeed, in the immediate aftermath, he did appear extremely weak, especially during the first visit from the new pope. Then, thank God, the decline appears to have halted. For the additional days that he is with us, we must give thanks.

  17. McCall1981 says:

    “I pray for Benedict’s consolation and intentions and for Francis’ ability to clearly enunciate and strongly defend church teachings and to support its’ liturgical traditions and of course for his intentions.”
    This is just perfect, well said.

    As far as Francis supporting liturgical traditions, he said some encouraging things yesterday about recovering a sense of the sacred, liturgical reverence and the Real Presence, that seemed to go mostly unnoticed:

  18. God in His mercy allowed us 8 years with the humble and loving Father of Pope Benedict XVI…I pray for him, and miss him. As I’ve said before, it was both a humble and a disastrous move. God have mercy.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear @dpop, I think I missed that one year ago.

    Absolutely fantastic. That was: absolutely fantastic.

    (Not the resignation. Your poetry.)

    (Forgive the slight annotation: If you wrote “Hitler youth” instead of “Nazi youth”, it would fit the metric as well. Only “(a member of the) Hitler youth” would be true, while “Nazi youth”, a young person that has a National Socialist conviction, is not. But that really is my one objection to a great idea and very fine implementation.)

  20. AdTrinitatemPerMariam says:

    Oh, wow…I didn’t realize how much I missed Pope Benedict until I watched this video and started choking up…God bless Pope Emeritus Benedict, and God bless Pope Francis.

  21. LarryW2LJ says:

    I miss Papa Benedict very much. My personal opinion is that he was the Pope that we needed and still, in fact, do need. However, I am pleased that the few snippets of information that I have read about him during the year since seem to indicate that he is now well rested and is feeling better than he did. I am happy that he seems to be a happier man.

  22. Mike says:

    I too have sad memories of this time a year ago, and miss Benedict. However, as his stepping down radically showed, it is the Lord’s Church. So, we give our allegiance to Pope Francis. Full stop. May he reign well and long.

    However, I still hope and pray that one day God will send us a warrior-Pope with the mind and heart of a Benedict, and the will of a St. Pius X.

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    I miss him. I’m so grateful for his leadership in the CDF and his writings. I recall his saying he wanted to retire but when JPII became so ill it was not possible. The papacy had to be very challenging for him due to it’s public and social demands. He is a scholar and a contemplative. I’m glad he is enjoying some time to pursue what he loves to do for a change. It is wonderful if, removed from the burdens of office, he can find some relative peace. Maybe it even surprises him to find himself feeling better now that he has had some time without those burdens. I hope that is the case. Either way he gave his entire life in service to God and man.
    lol @Bosco “It’s been gulls and ravens and doves ever since”.

  24. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The pope-emeritus stated that he believed his resignation was God’s will. Coming from another person, I wouldn’t know what to think of that. But coming from Benedict XVI, I trust that those words are credible and right. Thus, while I miss his reign, I also pray to embrace Pope Francis’ reign with true peace and resignation to God’s holy will. That doesn’t mean it is easy, or what I want, or what pleases me, but precisely when it is not easy to accept God’s will, is it that much more meritorious to do so.

  25. NBW says:

    I was stunned that day. I thought it was TEOTWAWKI for sure, especially after seeing the lightning bolts hit St. Peter’s. I miss Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

  26. Gabriel Syme says:

    I miss Pope Benedict, I have a great love for him. I felt very close to him, likely because he was the Pontiff when I “came home” and – for me – everything he did was absolutely brilliant. I completely “got” his vision of the Church and, my God, what a welcome difference to the Church of my youth in the 1980s.

    Summorum Pontificum will ultimately prove a great legacy and gift to the Church. But, as we can see with the FFI it appears there is already a clamping down on tradition, within one year of his abdication.

    Its a great shame he did not succeed in finally resolving the remaining SSPX business; I think that people who he should have been able to count on worked against him and they should be ashamed.

    However, this worthy Ratzingerian goal will ultimately be realised too, eventually. It is just sad that it seems it will take the passing of certain generations of clergy before it will be allowed to happen. In some sense, I think it is actually happening gradually, almost by stealth.

  27. Clinton says:

    At his inaugural Mass, Pope Benedict had asked us to pray for him, that he would not flee
    for fear of the wolves. I shall always think that I did not pray enough for him, God bless him.

  28. LadyMarchmain says:

    I just really miss him.

  29. mamajen says:

    Interestingly, I vaguely remembered this afternoon (after reading this) that I had a dream about Pope Francis last night. I wish I could recall the details.

    I felt great respect and admiration for Pope Benedict having made such a difficult decision. I am certain he was doing God’s will, and I am also certain that Pope Francis was/is meant to be.

    God bless Pope Benedict. I’m sure there is much more he would have liked to have done.

  30. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Like others, I was stunned, shocked, horrified, perplexed, and immensely saddened. It was one of those infinitely memorable ‘Where were you when you heard Kennedy had been shot’ moments.

    My feeling now is one of infinite gratitude to God for His great gift of such a wise Pope, of rather bewildered submission to His will in taking him from us for whatever reason he may have had, and relief that our Pope Emeritus is still alive to pray with us and for us – even though he will doubtless be doing the same for us, and more powerfully still, when he is no longer here on earth.

  31. The Cobbler says:

    My first thought was, “Great, I’ll have to wait all day to check Fr. Z’s and find out if it’s true or just another newspaper jumping the gun.”

    (I remember how many times JPII was reported to have died, see…)

    I presume I was disappointed later to find out it was true, but I don’t remember that as much as being bugged at not knowing. I also remember wondering what the next Pope would be like.

  32. pannw says:

    I thank God for his papacy. I pray that I may someday meet beloved Benedict in Heaven and that I find his reward is very great there, above and beyond what I dare hope for myself. So many have reviled him, when he is so kind and humble and faithful. God bless him.

  33. Lin says:

    It was a very sad day made worse by our “spirit of Vatican II” pastor who was obviously thrilled to be rid of Pope Benedict’s rule. For me, this is not an anniversary to celebrate. It has been a difficult year. I miss Pope Benedict and pray for him daily. Pope Francis is also in my prayers.

  34. MouseTemplar says:

    Every Hail Holy Queen of every rosary I’ve prayed since the announcement has been for him. I have trouble putting this behind me, and praying for him is a comfort.

  35. RJHighland says:

    Has Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope Frances commented on the lighting strike or earthquake? I wonder what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s first thought was? He was still at the his Vatican residence at the time, I believe he had to hear it. He can view St. Peter’s from his residence, could you image if he was doing his evening prayers looking out upon St. Pete’s square when it hit, yowza! I do miss him he gave me hope for the Church, him stepping down was shocking and spiritually sorrowful. Hopefully he is running covert operation to destroy the enemies of the Church inside the Church. My dream senerio is Pope Benedict XVI wanted Pope Frances elevated to distract and give the moderists a false sense of security allowing their guard to drop and his special operations priests take sickles to the cockels and tares in the curia.

  36. Bea says:

    One year and my heart is still broken.

    The first thing I remembered at the time , was what he said when he became pope: “Pray that I may not flee for fear of the wolves”

    @Miss Anita Moore, O.P.
    I too, felt “I didn’t pray enough for him”

    I remember that lightning bolt picture. There was another photo captured of a 2nd bolt that same day. I shuddered thinking, “God is re-affirming either His displeasure or a warning of what is to come”

    My husband,too, remembers that over Russia there was a comet that exploded about that time.

    Thanks for posting that beautiful poem.
    One line: “Quo vadis, Petre?” in the poem reminded me that at the time I kept asking myself over and over again: “Quo vadis, Pope Benedict, quo vadis?”
    Actually, I believe it was Peter that asked Our Lord “Quo vadis, Dominus?” as Peter was leaving Rome and Our Lord was going TO Rome. Our Lord answered that He was going to Rome to be crucified over again, whereupon Peter returned to Rome.

    I still feel like I’m living in a state of suspended animation, wondering what will become of our Poor, Beloved Church. I know that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, but suffering we cannot avoid.

    That was funny: “It’s been gulls, and ravens, and doves ever since.”
    but a sign of hope: though the raven was perched on the chimney at the conclave, the doves escaped the attack from the gull and raven.

  37. kiwiinamerica says:

    What are the odds of (i) a Pope resigning and (ii) the dome of St. Peter’s being struck by lightning ………both on the same day?

    All I can say is………’s been a looooooong year!

  38. AVL says:

    But Fr. Z, what does it MEAN that lightening struck St. Peter’s?? Do we take that as a good or a bad thing? Divine Power conducted to the Holy See, or Divine Wrath??

  39. AVL says:

    Oh, and P.S. – I miss Benedict so, so much.

  40. Jason Keener says:

    I was very sad about the abdication of Benedict XVI and still am. I feel the most urgent need in the Church is liturgical reform, and I would have liked to have seen Pope Benedict continue his liturgical work with even more decisive efforts and examples. Unfortunately, I think we are in for a long dry spell of many decades or longer when it comes to having another Roman Pontiff with the liturgical vision of Benedict XVI. Having said that, Pope Francis brings some of his own unique gifts to the Papacy, and we should be thankful for those gifts.

  41. mburn16 says:

    I preferred Benedict to Francis – but if traditionalists hold up Benedict as the best that we can do, we may well be depriving ourselves. He was a good, honest, and holy Pope, certainly. But other than personally preferring a more Baroque style of worship and easing restrictions on the TLM, he did not substantially advance traditionalist practices. At least not to the degree he could have. After all, it was Benedict, not John XXIII, not Paul VI, not JPI or JPII, who removed the Tiara from his coat of arms. And now, we have a Priest of the 1970s as Pope. I would not be at all surprised if things started to move in the other direction after Francis.

  42. anna 6 says:

    I miss Benedict XVI terribly.

    Pope Francis has his gifts, for which I am grateful…but I miss being nourished by breathtaking homilies and speeches that were filled with depth, beauty and extraordinary vision.

    I am grateful that I was alive and paying attention during Benedict’s all too brief pontificate.

    There are rumors that he is writing his memoirs, which, frankly I doubt, because Joseph Ratzinger is nothing if discreet. But one can dream!

  43. Ben Kenobi says:

    I remember this, it came at a very tumultuous time in my own life when things were very difficult and uncertain. Now they are much less so.

    I miss Der PanzerKardinel.

    “Most Catholics (clergy and lay) were not worthy of this great man.” @ Eugene.

    I concur. Nor was I. I do wish he would have stayed on. I was extremely encouraged when I converted and then he came in. I felt that the Church was in good hand with Papa Benedict. He’ll be gone but never forgotten.

  44. JonPatrick says:

    Like most people here I really liked Pope Benedict but perhaps God has decided to move in another direction and I have to be content with that.

    What has happened which I believe is not easily reversed, is that with Summorum Pontificum the laity have been more empowered to put our money where our mouths are so to speak, and to work at the grass roots level to restore authentic Catholic worship. No doubt the liberals have been emboldened by their manufactured image of Francis as a progressive, and we have had some setbacks notably the dismantling of the FFI. However in the longer term, if the restoration of authentic Catholic worship was meant to be then it will happen. By their fruits you shall know them. We are already seeing this with the religious, in another 50 years the only communities left may be the traditional ones.

  45. Andrew says:

    Here is my transcription of the announcement:

    Fratres carissimi, non solum propter tres canonizationes ad hoc Consistorium vos convocavi, sed etiam ut vobis decisionem magni momenti pro Ecclesiae vita communicem. Conscientia mea iterum atque iterum coram Deo explorata ad cognitionem certam perveni vires meas ingravescente aetate non jam aptas esse ad munus Petrinum aeque administrandum.
    Bene conscius sum hoc munus secundum suam essentiam spiritualem non solum agendo et loquendo exsequi debere, sed non minus patiendo et orando. Attamen in mundo nostri temporis rapidis mutationibus subiecto et quaestionibus magni ponderis pro vita fidei perturbato ad navem Sancti Petri gubernandam et ad annuntiandum Evangelium etiam vigor quidam corporis et animae necessarius est, qui ultimis mensibus in me modo tali minuitur, ut incapacitatem meam ad ministerium mihi commissum bene administrandum agnoscere debeam. Quapropter bene conscius ponderis hujus actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commissum renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora XX, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.
    Fratres carissimi, ex toto corde gratias ago vobis pro omni amore et labore, quo mecum pondus ministerii mei portastis et veniam peto pro omnibus defectibus meis. Nunc autem Sanctam Dei Ecclesiam curae Summi ejus Pastoris, Domini nostri Jesu Christi confidimus sanctamque ejus Matrem Mariam imploramus, ut patribus Cardinalibus in eligendo novo Summo Pontifice materna sua bonitate assistat. Quod ad me attinet etiam in futuro vita orationi dedicata Sanctae Ecclesiae Dei toto ex corde servire velim.

  46. AMTFisher says:

    Didn’t mention Summorum Pontificum, but there was a favorable article on Benedict on TIME’s website!? And if I read the little Bio of the author below the article correctly, he was a pro-Obama catholic. I am a little confused.

  47. LarryW2LJ says:

    “However, I still hope and pray that one day God will send us a warrior-Pope with the mind and heart of a Benedict, and the will of a St. Pius X.”

    And youth – so he can reign for a long, long time.

  48. Uxixu says:

    I very much regret the resignation of Benedict XVI. The last year could have had much less… uncertainty fanned by the left.

    All I can do is pray that the Holy Father proves more Benedict XVI than Paul VI.

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