Monday, February 11, 2013

Archbishop Duncan's statement on Benedict's resignation

News reached us this morning of the decision of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to resign from the responsibilities and exercise of the ministry which he has undertaken so nobly and ably these last eight years as Bishop of Rome. The Church throughout the world has been blessed by the theological acuity and pastoral wisdom of this great man of God.

Anglicans will particularly miss this pontiff and successor to St. Peter. Benedict XVI has been a great friend to us, particularly to orthodox Anglicans in North America. His warm reception at the Papal Audience just ten weeks ago is a very fresh memory. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote these words to the Plano Conference of 2003:

“I assure you, Bishop Duncan, of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in [the] convocation. The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ’s Gospel in England. Nor can I fail to recall that, barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought the same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.

“The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation. With all this in mind, I pray in particular that God’s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in truth, the gift of Christ himself.”

The letter was signed “with fraternal regards.” We shall truly miss this brother, and father, in God. May God grant His Holiness a fruitful retirement to the life of prayer he envisions. May God give him joy as he reflects on the ministry he has had, and may there still be some seasons left for the theological and spiritual writing with which he has blessed so many.