Statement of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on the announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI:
Early this morning, we heard the news that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will resign from his duties as Pope on February 28th. In prayer, our Holy Father discerned that due to his "advanced age" and "diminished strength," he has freely decided to resign and to serve the Church in the future "through a life dedicated to prayer."
The Church and the world have been greatly blessed by the extraordinary ministry and beautiful teachings of Pope Benedict these past nearly eight years. In His providential care, the Lord blessed us with a great shepherd. Amid the sadness of today's news, I am also filled with gratitude for the faithful and fruitful ministry of our beloved Holy Father. I invite all to pray for Pope Benedict, that the Lord will bless him during these days and bestow upon him His abundant grace and peace.
It was just one year ago, on February 9, 2012, that Bishop D'Arcy, I, and the other bishops of Indiana met with Pope Benedict during our ad limina visit to Rome. I recall with joy and gratitude that meeting and the warmth and kindness of our Holy Father. His words to us were words of brotherly love. I was moved by the Pope's evident wisdom and holiness.
I invite all the faithful also to pray for the Cardinals as they prepare in the coming weeks to meet in Conclave for the election of a new Successor to the Apostle Peter. I repeat the words of our Holy Father in today's announcement: "let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff."
The holy season of Lent begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Let us especially remember the above intentions in our prayers during the Lenten season.
Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend