Echoing the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, Cardinal Angelo Sodano told Pope Benedict that the cardinals’ hearts “burned when walking with you in the past eight years.”
“Yes, Holy Father, I know that our hearts that burned when walking with you in the past eight years. Today we want to once again express our gratitude. We repeat in chorus a typical expression of his dear native land ‘Vergelt's Gott,’ which means? God reward you!” Cardinal Sodano said on behalf of the cardinals.
Pope Benedict met with all the cardinals who were present in Rome on Feb. 28, his last day as pontiff. Around 144 cardinals and numerous members of the Roman Curia gathered in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace for a final farewell and to thank the Pope for his eight years leading the Church.
“With great trepidation,” Cardinal Sodano began, “the cardinals present in Rome huddle around you today, to once again express their deep affection and our heartfelt gratitude for your selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of the Church of Christ and humanity as a whole.”
He recalled how Pope Benedict thanked the cardinals last Saturday for their assistance during his papacy, and remarked, “it is we who must thank you for the example you gave us in the past eight years of your pontificate.”
Perhaps in a reference to the difficulties that experienced by Pope Benedict, Cardinal Sodano said, “with deep love we tried to accompany you in your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, they said to one another: ‘Do not perhaps it was burning our heart, when we talked on the way?’”