.- Pope Benedict XVI surprised the cardinals and organizers of a Feb. 28 farewell ceremony by saying the future Pope is present and that he already pledges his “unconditional respect and obedience” to him.
“Before I personally greet you I desire to tell you that I will continue to remain close to you with prayer, especially in these next days, that you may be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope.
“That the Lord will show you what he wants from you,” Benedict XVI told the 144 cardinals gathered in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace at 11:00 a.m. to bid him farewell.
“Among you, between the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom I already pledge my unconditional respect and obedience,” he declared.
The cardinals of the Church usually promise their obedience to the new Pope in the Sistine Chapel after he is elected, making Benedict XVI’s words all the more powerful.
Pope Benedict was not expected to deliver any remarks, so organizers were surprised by his speech.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, also offered words on behalf of all the cardinals in which he said their hearts burned within them during the Pope’s eight years of ministry.