In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: ‘The love of Christ urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14).
As Pope Benedict himself put it in his resignation announcement, there is only one Supreme Pastor — Jesus Christ. Popes for the universal Church and bishops in their dioceses are only his vicar. Recognizing the limitations that health and age have imposed on him, Pope Benedict XVI gave his “two weeks’ notice” as it were. Coming just before the beginning of Lent, there is sufficient time, I believe, for the cardinals to gather, to hold a conclave and elect a new Vicar of Christ in time for Holy Week and Easter.
We thank God for the gift of this good servant of Jesus Christ, Pope Benedict. We pray that the cardinals will be guided by the Holy Spirit as they elect a new pope — to be an “instrument in the Lord’s hands” as he walks in the shoes of the Fisherman.