In St. Francis de Sales Chapel on Cherry Street, Bishop Leonard P. Blair celebrated a “Mass for the Pope” today with more than 300 congregation members.
After the end of the traditional Mass at noon, the bishop, many clergy, and some congregants stayed for an additional hour of Eucharistic Adoration until 2 p.m., when Pope Benedict XVI's resignation officially took effect at 8 p.m. Vatican time.
“It is a somewhat eerie feeling for us to bid farewell to a Pope who has not died, but who has freely resigned his office for reasons of age and health," Bishop Blair said in his homily. "However, as the great Blessed John Henry Newman, so much admired by Pope Benedict, was fond of saying, to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.
"The Church has lived through most everything over the past two thousand years, and has experienced countless changes. Through it all God is ever at hand, and we have no reason to doubt his unfailing grace and providence at this moment or for the future.”
Tthe Mass was held in the chapel, Toledo's first Roman Catholic cathedral. Some pageantry was present in the form of Knights of Columbus in their capes and feathered hats. The church service was aired live on Annunciation Radio, the Toledo Catholic radio station. And Bishop Blair announced that after his earlier call for a “spiritual bouquet” in honor of the pope, 17,123 masses, rosaries, prayers, good works, acts of charity and penances had been made.
Until a new pope is chosen in a conclave of cardinals, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had been the Vatican secretary of state, is the camerlengo, or caretaker head of the church.
Before the Mass began, Bishop Blair said, “The cardinals obviously know that this is their chief responsibility, [to] elect a pope. I don't think until the first ballot they'll probably get a clear idea of where they stand and how things might fall out. I don't see an indication of some obvious choice or anything like that. I don't think [the cardinals] do, either, but, you know, I can't speak for them.”
As for Benedict's future, Bishop Blair said, “Pope Benedict's given every indication that he's going to live a life of a monk. He even invoked St. Benedict, who is his patron of his name Benedict, as a model. St. Benedict is the founder of Western monasticism.
"The pope keeps talking about a life of prayer, and I think that's exactly what he intends to do, so I don't think we're going to see or hear much of him at all. I think he's going to live as kind of a monk, a monk's existence," he said.
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