Pope Benedict XVI offered his blessing and said farewell on Sunday to a crowd of one hundred thousand. In his message he spoke of his retirement from the papacy, a choice which is unprecedented in the modern history of the Roman Catholic church. He told the crowd he is moving on to a different calling, a life of prayer on behalf of the church. Benedict will live a very simple life in an austere monastery not far from St. Peter's Bascilica.
I have been critical of Pope Benedict on a number of occasions, but I admire what he is choosing to do as he retires. I have no doubt that he is person of faith and prayer. He may be able to serve his church as effectively in that role as any. I have often encouraged those who feel that they don't have much to offer in old age to pray for others consistently. It is an important ministry and as valuable as any other form of service.
Any thoughts about Pope Benedict's departure later this week?