Dear CNEWA friends and supporters,
Pope Benedict’s resignation as pontiff has taken us all by surprise: We are not used to such public renunciations of power and status. But through his actions, our Holy Father is once again teaching us about humility and selflessness:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
On Ash Wednesday, the pope told a large crowd of pilgrims that he “decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me … for the good of the church.” For the good of the church. Throughout Benedict’s pontificate, he has worked tirelessly for the people of God. Despite his age, and deteriorating health, our pope has tackled some serious challenges, issues that threaten the future of humanity.
He has been particularly present in CNEWA’s world, traveling to Turkey, Jordan, Israel and Palestine, where he pressed for peace and justice. He has called for greater dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jews. His love for the Christians of the Middle East prompted a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops to address their concerns. During his visit to Lebanon last September, I was privileged to witness firsthand his message of peace. There, not far from the violence in Syria, he offered loving guidance in an exhortation the significance of which is still not yet fully understood.
My dear friends and CNEWA family, please pray for him, and for his successor as Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Servant of the Servants of God.
Join me in thanking our Holy Father for his life of loving and gentle service to the church. Consider making a gift in his honor to CNEWA. Together, we build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue — and inspire hope.
Msgr. John E. Kozar