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Bishop: Holy Father’s Announcement an Act of "Courage and Humility"

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The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge has called the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI of his resignation “an act of courage and humility.” The Bishop said the decision by the Holy Father to step down due to his stated inability to carry out the duties of the Pope is a noble act. “When you embrace the office and you say yes to being chosen, you do so knowing it is as long as God allows,” Bishop Burbidge said.

“Pope Benedict made the decision for the good of the Church and on behalf of God’s people. The people have received it in the beautiful spirit it has been offered,” the Bishop added.

Bishop Burbidge spoke of the long and dedicated service Pope Benedict has given to the Church and the commitment he had to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. “It is clear that Pope John Paul II relied greatly on then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s theological expertise and wisdom,” the Bishop said. “Pope Benedict put aside all personal desires so to serve as his predecessor’s will and in the manner deemed most effective for service to the universal Church.”

Bishop Burbidge said, “We are enriched by Pope Benedict’s three encyclicals: Charity in Truth, Saved by Hope, and On Christian Love - God is Love. It will take us many years to learn and fully understand all that he taught us in his inspirational writings. He taught truth with great clarity and genuine compassion.”

Speaking to media before the noon Ash Wednesday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bishop Burbidge was asked about the poor health suffered by Pope John Paul II leading up to his death in 2005. “Blessed John Paul II allowed the world to witness his suffering and his embrace of the Cross. He taught us the redemptive meaning of suffering.” Bishop Burbidge added, “Pope John Paul’s decision to remain in office also reflected courage and humility.”

Reflecting on Pope Benedict’s decision to resign, the Bishop said, “The Holy Father prayerfully determined that, at this point in time, the Church needs a Shepherd who can carry out all the functions required of the Papacy, which are numerous, including travel.

“How blessed we are to know that Pope Benedict will now serve us in a life dedicated to prayer and solitude,” the Bishop said. “What a tremendous gift to the Church!”

Asked about his thoughts on who the Conclave might select as Pope Benedict’s successor, Bishop Burbidge said, “Only the Holy Spirit knows. I trust the Cardinals will be guided to someone who will possess skill, ability and zeal in bringing the Truth of Christ to all peoples.”