The bishops serving Roman Catholic dioceses in the viewing area have issued the following statements on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI:
Bishop John Barres, Diocese of Allentown:
“Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign on February 28th is a decision that he made with great serenity and deep contemplative prayer. This is an act of great courage and humility. It speaks to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the person of the Pope. It is also no coincidence that he picked today, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and World Day of the Sick, to announce he’s stepping down due to failing health.
“The magnitude of his contributions and influence as a young systematic theologian at the Second Vatican Council, a liturgical and biblical theologian, Archbishop of Munich, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pope John Paul II’s closest collaborator, and then Pope, will only be understood and fully appreciated over time. His contemplative serenity and radiant joy as the Vicar of Christ has inspired the entire world.
“I have a wonderful memory of going to the North American College in Rome during my graduate student priest days. As I walked down the Janiculum Hill one night, I came upon then-Cardinal Ratzinger who was walking up the hill on the other side of the street. He gave me this radiant smile after his long day and waved. It touched me deeply.
“In December 2011, at the Pennsylvania Bishops Ad Limina visit, we had a wonderful and animated discussion with Pope Benedict and I had the opportunity to thank him personally for his recent catechesis on prayer in which he teaches the universal Church the importance of sacrificing deeply to pray deeply.
“On behalf of the entire Diocese of Allentown, I offer our prayers to Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares for his well-deserved retirement. And together we pray to the Holy Spirit for the selection of his successor.”
Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, Diocese of Harrisburg:
“While the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation initially draws forth a sense of sadness for Catholics throughout the Diocese of Harrisburg, this is not to the exclusion of profound gratitude for all that he has done and continues to do for the Church.
“From the very beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has been committed to calling all men and women in the world to an authentic encounter with the Living Lord, Jesus Christ. Through his preaching and his teaching, particularly in the three volumes of Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy Father has never tired of proclaiming the true face of Jesus Christ.
“And so, our hearts are grateful for his unwavering commitment to the Gospel. That this comes during this Year of Faith, which Pope Benedict called the Church to celebrate, we can see his decision as a sign of his own deep faith that the Church is cared for by Christ himself. His humble decision invites every Catholic to have the same faith that Christ will continue to watch over us by sending a new faithful and holy Shepherd to guide the Church as its Pope and to care for God’s People on our pilgrim journey here on earth.”
Bishop Joseph Bambera, Diocese of Scranton:
“The news of the resignation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, although unexpected and surprising to many, serves as a cause for both a certain sadness and a profound sense of gratitude to God for the gift of the Holy Father to the Church and the world.
“There is sadness that this great leader who has served the Church selflessly since being elected as successor of Saint Peter at 78 years of age in 2005, will be resigning from this singular ministry due to the diminishment of the health and strength needed to adequately address the demands of office. Yet, there is a deep gratitude to God for the blessings that have been so generously poured forth upon the Church through this gifted theologian and humble pastor who has served as successor of Saint Peter for almost eight years.
“The Holy Father’s decision to resign stands as profound testimony to the depth of his faith and his deep humility as a servant of the Lord. With his own personal recognition that the Church must be led by one who is capable of doing so by possessing the necessary strength of mind and body, this historic decision will undoubtedly be remembered as Pope Benedict XVI’s last great service to the Church.
“Personally, I will be forever grateful to God for the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI who appointed me to serve the Church as Bishop of Scranton.
“I join with the Faithful of the Diocese of Scranton and around the world in entrusting the Church to the care of its Supreme Shepherd, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that He will watch over and protect His servant, Pope Benedict XVI and call forth yet another successor of Saint Peter to serve the Church with humility, faith and love.”