09 Pilgrim Pope on Journey to God - Cindy Wooden

posted Apr 12, 2018, 9:59 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 12, 2018, 10:00 AM ]
" I am on a pilgrimage towards Home," retired Pope Benedict XVI wrote, capitalising the Italian word casa (home).

Almost exactly five years after announcing his intention to be the first Pope in nearly 600 years to resign, Pope Benedict wrote the letter to a journalist from the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"I am touched to know how many of the readers of your newspaper want to know how I am experiencing this last period of my life," the 90-year-old retired Pope wrote. "In that regard, I can only say that, with the slow diminishing of my physical strength, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage towards Home."

"It is a great grace in this last, sometimes tiring stage of my journey, to be surrounded by a love and kindness that I never could have imagined," said the letter, written on stationery with the heading 'Benedictus XVI, Papa emeritus'.

During a meeting with cardinals on Feb. 11, 2013, Pope Benedict stunned the cardinals and the world by saying, in Latin, "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."

He set the date for his retirement as Feb. 28, 2013. And, seen off by dozens of weeping Vatican employees, he flew by helicopter to the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, where he remained until after Pope Francis was elected.

The day before he left was a Wednesday, and the overflowing crowd in St Peter's Square made it clear that it was anything but a normal Wednesday general audience. He told an estimated 150,000 people that his pontificate, which had lasted almost eight years, was a time of "joy and light, but also difficult moments. The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light breeze, days in which the catch of fish has been abundant," he said, likening himself to St Peter on the Sea of Galilee.