Strength of Mind and Body: Praying for the Pope, the Church, the World


My eyes popped open at 3:01 am PST, the TV still on the overnight news. A few minutes later, a special report: POPE BENEDICT XVI TO RESIGN.

If, as it seems now, the reports of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation are true, there is special reason to invoke the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes on this her feast day.

According to the text of the pope’s message, which has been posted on the website of Vatican Radio, the Holy Father—”after having repeatedly examined my conscience”—declares that he lacks the necessary “strength of mind and body” to shepherd the Church in these turbulent times.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

Read the full statement.

Today the Church commemorates the World Day of the Sick. Let us bring our Holy Father, our Church, ourselves, and our ailing world to the Grotto today, and ask humbly for the miracle of healing—which is most often granted, as the malades know, as I know, by God’s grace to endure.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick, pray for us!


For reliable updates and thoughtful reflection on this story, which is only now beginning to unfold the next chapters the Holy Spirit holds for our Church, please check the Patheos Catholic Channel frequently today and in the weeks to come. My colleagues are covering every angle, from the journalistic to the personal.

  • Manny

    My prayers to this good man. I’m actually choked up. But I do understand. I remember such a vacuum in the church in the last year or so of JPII’s life.

  • pagansister

    One of the news programs aired pictures of Benedict 16′s face on the day he was elected—then a recent one, of his face, which showed massive aging—in 7 or so years. The job has taken it’s toll. He has a hard time walking too, it seems. Good move, resigning. He most certainly wasn’t a young man when elected. Dealing with the continuing molestation scandal, left over from Pope John Paul 2, plus dealing with the outrage of reinstating the 4 Bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (one of whom or it’s leader, don’t remember which) claimed the Holocaust never happened thus angering those of the Jewish faith, making controversial comments about the Islamic faith etc. has probably been a bit taxing on a 78 year old moving into his 80′s. Perhaps he will live longer now, in a religious retreat or monastery somewhere in sunny Italy—or will he return to his homeland of Germany? IMO, he may have ticked off many younger Catholics, due to the continued rules against women in the priesthood, the no AB rule, and amazing enough—according to one broadcast today, the anti-abortion stance (46% of Catholics agree to choice, 45% didn’t) and last but not least, the disapproval of gay marriage, all causing job pressure on the head of the Church. The discontented Catholics are being replaced with the increasing Hispanic population. Hopefully his replacement will be younger and progressive. However, many of the College of Cardinals are his appointees—so I guess there is no hope there.