Bishop Lowry Calls for Prayer in the Wake of Pope Benedict's Decision to Retire

by Vance Morton* - compiled from national news reports.
After learning of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement to resign as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Mike Lowry, episcopal leader of the Central Texas Conference, called the people of the Central Texas Conference to prayer as the Roman Catholic Church go through a time of transition not experienced since 1415.
“It is with a profound sense of appreciation for the depth of Pope Benedict’s Christian witness and leadership that I request the clergy and laity of our conference hold our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in prayer ,” said Bishop Lowry. “During this period of transition, we pray for the Lord's guidance on the Roman Catholic Church and His blessing on Pope Benedict XVI and all engaged in this transition process. May the Lord bless and keep them, and us, as together we work for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”
Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday, Feb. 11, that he would resign his position as the head of the Roman Catholic Church effective Feb. 28, shocking the Christian world and even many close to him. He has led the Church since 2005. In his announcement to a meeting of Vatican cardinals, he explained his decision to retire was due to his advanced age and diminished strength.
Benedict, the 265th Pontiff, will be the first leader of the Church to step down voluntarily in almost six centuries and his announcement sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. Vatican officials have said that they hope to have a new Pope in place by Easter.
The following is a transcription of part of the remarks Pope Benedict made in Latin to his cardinals on Monday morning, which was released to the media by the Vatican (Click here to read the full text):
"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. The Petrine ministry is the Vatican's official description of the office of the pontiff.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.

However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."
*Vance is the director of Communications & IT for the CTC.