.- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, told Pope Benedict XVI that his pontificate will always shine like a star as he reacted to the news of Pope’s resignation.
"The stars in the sky will continue to shine and your pontificate will always shine like them among us," said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, just after the Pope read his declaration of resignation on Feb. 11.
"We have heard you with a sense of astonishment, almost in disbelief," Cardinal Sodano said in front of a group of cardinals gathered at the Vatican to decide on three canonization proposals.
"In your words, we have noticed the big affection that you have always had towards God's Holy Church, for this Church that you have always loved," he added.
The cardinal told Pope Benedict that "in the name of your dear collaborators, we are closer, more than ever, just as we have been in these bright eight years of your pontificate."
Cardinal Sodano recalled the moment when he asked the Pope if he accepted his election as Supreme Pontiff on April 19, 2005.
"You did not delay in replying that you accepted, trusting in God's grace and in the motherly intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church," he said.
"Like Mary, you gave your yes on that day and began your bright pontificate in the continuity of your 265 predecessors on Peter's Chair, during the course of 2,000 years of history."
He noted this was "from Peter, the Apostle, the humble fisherman of Galilee to the big Popes of the last century from St. Pius X to Blessed John Paul II."
The cardinal called Pope Benedict's ministry a service "realized with so much love, with so much humility."
The dean of the College of Cardinals said he hopes that the cardinals "will have a better way of expressing our feelings as well as that of priests, pilgrims, men of good will and authorities from around the world" before his retirement on Feb. 28.
He also said "we will have the joy of listening to your pastoral voice this month" on numerous occasions.
Pope Benedict will speak this Ash Wednesday, on Thursday at a meeting with Rome's clergy, at the recitation of the Angelus each Sunday.
"But your mission will continue: you have said that you will always be close with your testimony and your prayer," the cardinal said.