Benedict XVI 10 years ago: “Pray for me…”

My friend Fr. Rutler reminded me today that 10 years ago yesterday, 24 April, Pope Benedict XVI, during his sermon for the beginning of his too brief pontificate, said, among other:


One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep”, says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament. My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.


I found the FNC coverage of the election (I was on with Chris Wallace and Greg Burke):

I found the video of the Inaugural Mass:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AnnTherese says:

    Beautiful words. Thankful today for the gifts Pope Benedict brought to our Church, and the gifts Pope Francis is bringing– for all the ways the Good Shepherd has worked through them. And grateful for all–religious brothers and sisters, lay ministers, and ordained clergy–who minister faithfully day after day; as well as for all believers who give their lives and hearts to Gospel-living!

  2. “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

    I believe this is exactly what the Vicar of Christ did. Instead of telling the serpent in the Garden, ‘be gone ye accursed one!’, Pope Benedict just turned and ran, leaving his Bride, Eve stranded and facing the serpent alone. Thankfully the Bride of Christ, the Church has a system to replace Its Vicars. While I’m thankful for Benedict and the good work he was doing, I believe his work was unfinished.

  3. Emilio says:

    These words haunt me a little, because personally I feel I didn’t pray enough for our beloved Benedict XVI. I believe him that he truly felt that he no longer possessed the strength to adequately carry on with the Petrine Ministry, but can any of us deny the role of demonic forces, inside the Vatican and out, which contributed to the physical, and especially the psychological exhaustion that ended this glorious Pontificate?? Consider the toll of what that da** BUTLER (a bona fide Judas archetype) did and Vatileaks on Benedict XVI alone. I have developed a genuine affinity for Pope Francis and his emphasis on the social teaching of the Church, but it is evident that he has surrounded himself with some really unfortunate choices for advisers. He seems to have empowered the very career “climbers” which he so often calls out, and who have in turn banished orthodox and genuinely loyal voices away from the Pope. I pray for and support Pope Francis, but trusting in Providence and in His will since Benedict’s abdication is a real test of faith.

  4. Per Signum Crucis says:

    “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

    I wonder if we’ll ever find out what he meant by that?

  5. benedetta says:

    His words of the truest sort of love and caritas feed us, even up to now. Prayers of gratitude for him and for all he did.

    Jam non multa loquar vobiscum: venit enim princeps mundi hujus, et in me non habet quidquam.
    Sed ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, et sicut mandatum dedit mihi Pater, sic facio. Surgite, eamus hinc.

  6. newportson says:

    There is nothing coincidental in the fact that St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Fairfax, VA, today, the feast of St. Mark, and the tenth anniversary of the inauguration Mass for Benedict XVI, for the first time since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificium celebrated a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form (see The church was crowded with families, young and old, and a choir to chant the various parts of the Mass. The devil himself also must have anticipated that this opening of the sacred in our diocese was problematic for him because before the Mass was to begin the fire alarm went off, inexplicably, fire truck arrived, and nothing could be found to have been the cause; and there was trouble getting the charcoal lit for the incense, too. I see no coincidence that both had to do with fire, and that both seemed rather impotent in the face of the sacred mysteries that were about to befall all in attendance for the good of the church in Arlington, and the entire body of Christ. I would note, too, that the bulletin referenced, and encouraged interested parishioners to go to for insights on questions relating to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius (Chicago) are increasing the sacred parish by parish across this land.

  7. robtbrown says:

    Absit invidia says:
    “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

    I believe this is exactly what the Vicar of Christ did.

    If you knew anything about the situation in Rome, you wouldn’t believe that.

  8. Joseph-Mary says:

    His words were profound that day. I give thanks for the years of his holy papacy and for making the Holy Sacrifice of the Traditional Mass available for us again. He loved even his traditional children! And his words were always so true with no ambiguity.

  9. jameeka says:

    What a great sermon.
    Did anyone else notice the young and happy-looking Cardinal George and Pell on the balcony at the end? Especially Cardinal George, RIP.
    Your commentary was very good, Fr Z.

  10. q7swallows says:

    And suffering is to remember having been loved and feeling separation from that love.

    How painfully I miss BXVI . . . .

  11. Landless Laborer says:

    There is simply too much that we cannot know about the subtleties of BXVI’s former situation to say he fled from the wolves. Our Lord Himself might have commanded him to resign for all we know, it’s useless to speculate, so i chose to keep him as a hero in my mind.

  12. rob,

    It’s because I understand the situation in Rome that I believe this.

  13. Eugene says:

    So many conflicting emotions when I look at these videos. I still feel “orphaned” by this great gentle giant of a Shepherd’s departure. He brought me a greater love for the faith and the Mass.
    God have mercy on me but the filial feelings I had for St John Paul II and Benedict I no longer have for the reigning Pope. There is a huge void there that seems to never get filled. I remain very conflicted with what has happened in the last 2 years and I no longer can muster the deep love I had for Bishop of Rome who was always an anchor in my life even when other shepherds, especially my local ordinary failed me in their roles. God have mercy on me and help me to understand what you want from me at this time as a member of the Church.

  14. StWinefride says:

    Re Pope Benedict’s comment on praying for him that he flees not for fear of the wolves. I personally don’t think that he fled – I think he knew exactly what he was doing and did it for the good of the Church at that particular time.

    We are the Church Militant and the Pope as the Head of the Church is commander-in-chief. I like to think that he had in mind 2 of the 10 British principles of war (although I’m sure the German ones are quite similar!) which are Offensive Action and Surprise. His abdication no doubt flummoxed the Wolf Pack and we have the promise from Our Lord that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church.

    At Fatima, Our Lady said repeatedly: “Pray a great deal for the Holy Father, he will have much to suffer”.

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, pray for us as we continue to pray for you and Pope Francis!
    St Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

  15. Geoffrey says:

    His Holiness the Pope Emeritus said that he came to the decision after much prayer. He said he understood the gravity of what he was doing, and we cannot doubt that he didn’t bring this before our Eucharistic Lord in prayer.

    What I have been struggling with is why the Lord wanted His Vicar to abdicate… and why my own devotion to the papacy has become somewhat lukewarm.

  16. pelerin says:

    It was interesting to watch the coverage again of this momentous day. I was impressed how this News Channel stopped the distracting rolling news items at the bottom of the screen once Pope Benedict started to speak presumably out of respect.

  17. SKAY says:

    Dear Pope Emeritus Benedict is always in my prayers and I know he is also praying for all of us.
    Thank you for sharing the video Father Z but it is hard to watch and remember.
    I am grateful that he is still with us because he looked so frail right before he stepped down–but I miss him.

  18. Giuseppe says:

    Please do not forget the great service done by then Cardinal Ratzinger behind the scenes, especially during the final years of St. John Paul II ‘s papacy. He was the go-to guy for Rome and the Vatican.

    He served longer as Pope than the history books will say, and he saw the ravages to St John Paul II and the risks of relying on behind the scene leadership.

    He sacrificed potential criticisms to his heretofore stellar reputation (risk of being called an abdicator) for the good of the church. He’s a man of God.

  19. Geoffrey says:

    “…the risks of relying on behind the scene leadership…”

    I think that played a major part. St John Paul the Great was able to trust and rely on those around him, one of them being Cardinal Ratzinger. Benedict XVI was surrounded by too many people with their own agendas and machinations. I think the incident with his butler/valet really shook him up.

  20. Reconverted Idiot says:

    I have such deep and personal regrets concerning Benedict’s papacy. When he visited the UK he passed within 30 meters of my house on his way to the church that would be the source of my later reversion to the faith, and is now my parish home. A short while after his abdication I ‘prophesied’ (as an atheist at the time ‘reading the signs’ as it were) that Benedict had been a P.R. disaster for the Church, and that the next pope would be “Pope Warm Fuzzy the first.” I cannot express how deeply saddened I am, following my miraculous return The Faith, that my materialistic reading of things has proved to be so correct. Now, with access to a regular TLM and a new found appreciation for the mind of Ratzinger (such a profound theologian!) I see how much I owe this man. May God keep him and bless him. In those short years he achieved so much, and this reconverted idiot here owes him an eternal debt of gratitude as I continue to reap the fruits of the many good things he sowed during his pontificate.

  21. mysticalrose says:

    Well, it certainly feels like the wolves won . . .

  22. juergensen says:

    Benedict knew who the wolves were; and now we do too.

  23. jflare says:

    I quite enjoy seeing the crowd reaction and hearing Benedict chanting the prayer. As I reach the end of the video, I find I’m wishing that Pope Benedict were still at the helm. I miss his more traditional norms; Pope Francis’ efforts to “reach out” to the margins mostly make me wonder what rule he’s willing to break this time and why he considers it less relevant.
    I think though, that sentiments about Benedict having more or less left us hanging don’t add up for me so well. I have read on this blog–and heard elsewhere–that we, the lay faithful, will be the source of the actual evangelizing of the nation. I think that’s true. It also creates rather a problem for clergy, bishops in particular.
    In my lifetime, I have filled roles as military officer, store manager, and leader of this or that effort. I have learned that, when I wish to see something accomplished, I automatically begin considering exactly who will accomplish it. I wish to delegate some roles to others, but doing so requires that the delegate have a very good idea of what I wish to see. That’s usually where my best-laid plans often turn to gak. If I’m not confident that a task will be done “to spec” by someone to whom I might delegate, there’s a good chance that I’ll wind up either doing it myself to save time, or else drop the idea entirely. Sometimes I must make priority choices that I don’t like very much.

    I think the same likely is true of bishops and pastors. If a man might have the zeal to bring about all manner of change that a tradition-friendly person might love, he must do so without thoroughly alienating those who do not eagerly embrace traditional norms. That’s pretty tough; most people who don’t embrace traditional norms seem to me to howl a very great deal about concerns that I think..much less relevant.
    I think then, that Fr Z probably offers good advice when he challenges us to be the ones that a bishop–or a pastor–can rely on to get things done.
    I have already begun working at re-arranging my own life, the better to be available to accomplish those things that the Church needs to be able to do. It’s not easy and doesn’t happen quickly, but it’ll be worth it if I can be a go-to resource for my parish.

    If all we do is sit by our computers and grouch with each other about how life stinks, we can expect that celebrations of Mass and the remainder of the Church’s life will live up to our angry expectations.
    That doesn’t mean that we need to get off the internet; it does mean that we need to consider how we can better assist the various people in our lives in becoming better catechized, better evangelized, and more on fire for the faith.

    In other words, perhaps the Holy Spirit gave us Pope Francis when He did as a means to give us all a kick in the pants to start DOING something about it.

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  25. benedictgal says:

    These words are heart-breaking, considering the state of the Church today. At times, I do feel as though he did up and run. However, I also believe that many of us, myself included, felt some sort of complacency having him on the throne (I wished he would have been Pope sooner) and didn’t pray for him as we (as I) should have.

    While I am obliged to support the current Pontifex in matters of faith and morals, I do sense that he has thrown many of us who value the sacred and the Traditional under the bus. I know down here, I have the tread marks all over my back to prove it. Liberals like Cardinals Kasper and Maradraiga are allowed to run rough shod while faithful shepherds like Burke get sent off to Siberia.

    Inasmuch as Pope Francis has opened up a Pandora’s box, I must remember that Christ did make promises to His Church and, even though the Barque of St. Peter does appear to be taking in water and those of us who are Traditional are either sent to the brig or in steerage, there has to be hope. After all, after Pandora let loose all of the weird and bad stuff, hope remained in the box.

  26. jbpolhamus says:

    Either our prayers were ineffectual, or he fled. Tough luck for us, either way.

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