Toledo’s Mass for Pope draws 300; Pledges of ‘spiritual bouquets’ honor Benedict, bishop says

3/1/2013
BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Bishop Leonard P. Blair predicts that Pope Benedict’s legacy will be as a great teacher and that he will spend the rest of his life as a monk in a life of private prayer.
Bishop Leonard P. Blair predicts that Pope Benedict’s legacy will be as a great teacher and that he will spend the rest of his life as a monk in a life of private prayer.

More than 300 people attended a “Mass for the Pope,” and Eucharistic Adoration on Thursday celebrated by Bishop Leonard P. Blair in St. Francis DeSales Church on Cherry Street, that concluded at the official time of Pope Benedict XVI's abdication.

Bishop Leonard Blair leads a Eucharistic Adoration and  Mass for Pope Benedict XVI in St. Francis DeSales  Church, Cherry Street, the city’s first Catholic cathedral.
Bishop Leonard Blair leads a Eucharistic Adoration and Mass for Pope Benedict XVI in St. Francis DeSales Church, Cherry Street, the city’s first Catholic cathedral.

“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 told the congregation 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.”

The Mass, which started at noon, was in Toledo’s first Roman Catholic cathedral. Bishop Blair said that in response to his earlier call for a “spiritual bouquet” in honor of the Pope, people in the diocese had pledged 17,123 Masses, rosaries, prayers, good works, acts of charity, and penances.

PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop Blair Hosts Mass for Pope

Until cardinals elect a new pope, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had been the Vatican secretary of state, is the Camerlengo, or caretaker head of the church.

Sharing his thoughts before the Mass about who might be the next pope, Bishop Blair said, “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.”

Bishop Blair said that Pope Benedict’s legacy “will probably be as a great teacher.”

“I don’t know that everyone appreciates yet just how magnificent the collection of his teachings and writings are — not just his theology but as a real preaching of the gospel, witness to the gospel,” he said. “And I think he will certainly be remembered as a very gentle and kind person, and that counts for a lot, I think, in this world.”

Bishop Blair said Pope Benedict has given every indication that he will live out the rest of his life as 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 bishop said.

“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.”

Contact TK Barger at: tkbarger@theblade.com, or 419-724-6278.