The Times West Virginian

Headline News

February 28, 2013

Pope recalls ‘joy,’ difficulties during his papacy

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI bid an emotional farewell Wednesday on the eve of his retirement, recalling moments of “joy and light” during his papacy, but also times of difficulty when “it seemed like the Lord was sleeping.”

Some 150,000 people, many waving banners proclaiming “Grazie!”, flooded St. Peter’s Square, eager to bear witness to the final hours of a papacy that will go down in history as the first in 600 years to end in resignation rather than death.

Benedict basked in the emotional send-off, taking a long victory lap around the square in an open-sided car, and stopping to kiss and bless half a dozen babies. Seventy cardinals, some tearful, sat in solemn attendance — and gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech.

Benedict then made a quick exit, forgoing the meet-and-greet session that typically follows his weekly general audience, as if to not prolong the goodbye.

Given the weight of the moment, Benedict also replaced his usual Wednesday catechism lesson with a heartfelt final address, explaining once again why he was retiring and assuring his flock of 1.2 billion that he was not abandoning them.

“To love the church means also to have the courage to take difficult, painful decisions, always keeping the good of the church in mind, not oneself,” Benedict said to thundering applause.

He noted that a pontiff has no privacy — neither as pope, nor in his future role as emeritus pope: “He belongs always and forever to everyone, to the whole church.”

During his eight years as pope, Benedict said he had had “moments of joy and light, but also moments that haven’t been easy. ... Moments of turbulent seas and rough winds, as has occurred in the history of the church, when it seemed like the Lord was sleeping.”

But he said he never felt alone, that God always guided him, and he thanked his cardinals and colleagues for their support and for “understanding and respecting this important decision.”

The pope’s tenure has been beset by the clerical sex abuse scandal, discord over everything from priestly celibacy to women’s ordination, and most recently the betrayal by his own butler, who stole his private papers and leaked them to a journalist.

Under a bright sun and blue skies, the square was overflowing with pilgrims and curiosity-seekers. Those who couldn’t get in watched on giant TV screens set up along the main boulevard leading to the square. About 50,000 tickets were requested, and in the end, the Vatican estimated that 150,000 people flocked to the farewell.

“It’s difficult — the emotion is so big,” said Jan Marie, a 53-year-old Roman in his first years as a seminarian. “We came to support the pope’s decision.”

With chants of “Benedetto!” the mood was far more buoyant than during the pope’s final Sunday blessing. It recalled the jubilant turnouts that often accompanied him at World Youth Days and events involving his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Benedict has said he decided to retire after realizing that, at 85, he simply didn’t have the “strength of mind or body” to carry on.

“I have taken this step with the full understanding of the seriousness and also the novelty of the decision, but with a profound serenity in my soul,” Benedict told the crowd.

He will meet this morning with his cardinals for a final time, then fly by helicopter to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

There, at 8 p.m., the doors of the palazzo will close and the Swiss Guards in attendance will go off duty, their service protecting the head of the Catholic Church over — for now.

Many of the cardinals who will choose Benedict’s successor were in St. Peter’s Square for his final audience. Among them was retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, the object of a grassroots campaign in the U.S. to persuade him to recuse himself for having covered up for sexually abusive priests. Mahony has said he will be among the 115 cardinals voting for the next pope.

“God bless you,” Mahony said when asked by television crews about the U.S. campaign.

Also in attendance were cardinals over 80, who can’t participate in the conclave but will take part in meetings next week to discuss the problems facing the church and the qualities needed in a new pope.

“I am joining the entire church in praying that the cardinal electors will have the help of the Holy Spirit,” 82-year-old Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz said.

Herranz has been authorized by the pope to brief voting-age cardinals on his investigation into the leaks of papal documents that exposed corruption in the Vatican administration.

Vatican officials say cardinals will begin meeting Monday to decide when to set the date for the conclave.

Still, the rank-and-file faithful weren’t so concerned with the future: They wanted to savor the final moments of a pope they have known for years.

“I came to thank him for the testimony that he has given the church,” said Maria Cristina Chiarini, a 52-year-old homemaker who traveled by train from Lugo in central Italy with about 60 members of her parish. “There’s nostalgia, human nostalgia, but also comfort. Because as Christians we have hope. The Lord won’t leave us without a guide.”

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

  • ‘Obamacare’ under attack as conservatives eye 2016

    Republicans eyeing the 2016 White House race battered President Barack Obama’s health care law and nicked each other Saturday, auditioning before a high-profile gathering of conservatives that some political veterans said marked the campaign’s unofficial start.

    April 13, 2014

  • Finance officials: Global economy turns the corner

    The world’s top finance officials expressed confidence Saturday that the global economy finally has turned the corner to stronger growth. This time, they may be right.
    Despite challenges that include market jitters about the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying slowdown and global tensions over Ukraine, policymakers said they believe there is a foundation for sustained growth that can provide jobs for the millions of people still looking for work five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    April 13, 2014

  • There’s a new ‘face,’ but old problems for health care law

    Abruptly on the spot as the new face of “Obamacare,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell faces steep challenges, both logistical and political.
    Burwell, until now White House budget director, was named by President Barack Obama on Friday to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the messy rollout of the health care overhaul.

    April 12, 2014

  • Australia leader confident sounds are from Flight 370

    With the Malaysian jetliner mystery now five weeks old, officials have narrowed the search zone for the missing plane and are “very confident” the underwater signals they have heard are from its black box, Australia’s prime minister said Friday.
    At the same time, however, those electronic signals are fading, Tony Abbott added.

    April 12, 2014

  • Dreams dashed in fatal bus crash

    It was a busload of opportunity: young, low-income, motivated students, destined to become the first in their families to go to college, journeying from the concrete sprawl of Los Angeles to a remote redwood campus 650 miles north.
    Those dreams shattered for some Thursday in an explosive freeway collision that left 10 dead — students, chaperones and both drivers — and dozens hospitalized.

    April 12, 2014

  • Questions on long-term health lingering four years after spill

    When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
    Like so many Gulf Coast residents who pitched in after the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Barisich was motivated by a desire to help and a need to make money — the oil had destroyed his livelihood.

    April 12, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads