Bishop Blair responds to news of pope’s resignation
Monday, 11 February 2013 18:56
TOLEDO—In a statement issued upon the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair said the news “fills us all with a sense of loss.”
Bishop Leonard P. Blair speaks to members of the local press about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Feb. 11 at the Catholic Center in Toledo. (Chronicle photo by Laurie Stevens Bertke)
“We call the pope our spiritual ‘Holy Father’ with all that that implies for our life of faith in Christ,” Bishop Blair said. “Pope Benedict has fulfilled that role most admirably, with total dedication, as a great pastor and teacher of the faith. Our profound gratitude and support will remain with him always.”
Bishop Blair called Pope Benedict’s resignation “a lesson in humility, courage and faith.
“We also pray now for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the election of a worthy successor to Pope Benedict to fulfill the office entrusted to St. Peter to be the rock on which the Lord builds His church,” he said.
During a press conference Feb. 11, the bishop acknowledged he was “very surprised” when he learned the news of the pope’s resignation that morning.
“When I reflect on it, in one way it’s not totally surprising, because the Holy Father, it’s very clear, has grown weaker,” he said. “You can see it. And when you think of the immense burdens of his office, when I look back at it, I’m not totally shocked by it. But nevertheless it is not something you expect to see on your morning news.”
LISTEN: Click “play” to hear Bishop Leonard P. Blair’s statement upon the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Blair related it was a year ago this month that he and the other bishops of Ohio and Michigan last met with Pope Benedict during their “ad limina” visit to Rome. “We had a very pleasant and very affirming visit with the Holy Father, talking about the state of the church in our respective dioceses and assuring him of our prayers and support,” the bishop recalled.
Bishop Blair described Pope Benedict as “a great intellect” and an “outstanding teacher and preacher of the faith.
“He spoke very forcefully about the tyranny of relativism today — that nobody believes there are any absolute truths anymore, and some of the great immortal challenges that arise from that in the life of the church and in society,” Bishop Blair said. “He was a very articulate spokesperson for the faith in that regard.”
The bishop also voiced a personal admiration for Pope Benedict’s ability to teach the faith, calling his homilies, letters and way of expressing himself at weekly audiences “equal to some of the fathers of the church in ancient times.
“He was a great theologian. We’ll miss that,” said Bishop Blair. “He was unparalleled for being able to teach the faith; to express it beautifully and very movingly and understandably to people, to move not only their minds but their hearts.”