VATICAN CITY — On the one-year anniversary of Benedict XVI’s announcement of his decision to resign from the Petrine ministry, Pope Francis has sent a tweet, asking the world to join him in prayer for the former pope.
“Today I invite you to pray together with me for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility,” the Pope said in a Feb. 11 tweet from his @Pontifex account.
Exactly one year ago, retired Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced to a gathering of cardinals that he was resigning his office as Bishop of Rome, an event which has not happened in almost 600 years.
Citing his advanced age as the primary factor in his decision, Benedict revealed that, “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.”
Only two other popes have resigned from their post in this canonical process in the history of the Church, the first being St. Celestine V in 1294, and the last was Gregory VII, in 1415.
Benedict XVI’s retirement officially went into effect on Feb. 28, 2013, when he traveled to the Vatican’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and later moved into his permanent residence in the Vatican’s monastery “Mater Ecclesiae,” which lies just west of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The retired pope has stated that in this final stage of his earthly pilgrimage, he will live a life dedicated to prayer.
Among the many legacies that Benedict has left for the Church, the most important have been said to be his promotion of the beauty of the Church’s liturgical tradition as well as his efforts in forging stronger interreligious relations.