Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and
president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released this statement today
regarding Pope Benedict’s resignation:
The Holy Father brought the
tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of
a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign
of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but
grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter.
Though 78 when he elected pope in
2005, he set out to meet his people and they were of all faiths all over
the world. He visited the religiously threatened Jews, Muslims and Christians
in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s
youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, Spain and Brazil.
He delighted our beloved United
States of America when he visited Washington and New York in 2008. As a favored
statesman he greeted notables at the White House. As a spiritual leader he led
the Catholic community in prayer at Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium and St.
Patrick’s Cathedral. As a pastor feeling pain in a stirring, private meeting at
the Vatican nunciature in Washington, he brought a listening heart to victims
of sexual abuse by clerics.
Pope Benedict often cited the
significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism.
Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again
and again. It is a message for eternity.
He unified Catholics and reached
out to schismatic groups in hopes of drawing them back to the church. More
unites us than divides us, he said by word and deed. That message is for eternity.
He spoke for the world’s poor
when he visited them and wrote of equality among nations in his peace messages
and encyclicals. He pleaded for a more equitable share of world resources and
for a respect for God’s creation in nature.
Those who met him, heard him
speak and read his clear, profound writings found themselves moved and changed.
In all he said and did he urged people everywhere to know and have a personal
encounter with Jesus Christ.
The occasion of his resignation
stands as an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world. Our
experience impels us to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict. Our hope
impels us to pray that the College of Cardinals under the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit choose a worthy successor to meet the challenges present in today’s