Vatican City, Feb 28, 2015 / 10:30 am
Two years after his historic resignation from the papacy, Benedict XVI's presence continues to be felt by those around him as he keeps his promise to remain in quiet and prayerful service to the Church and the world.
“We always know that Pope Emeritus Benedict is present in the Vatican, with his prayers,” said Fr. Scott Borgman, English-language official for the Pontifical Accademy for Life. This presence, he told CNA in a Feb. 10 email interview, “is a very reassuring affection which we experience often.”
At 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2013, Benedict XVI stepped down from the papal throne, less than three weeks after announcing his resignation to the world.
Earlier that evening, the former pontiff stood from the balcony of Castel Gandolfo's papal residence, overlooking the thousands who had filled the lake town's small main square.
"I wish still with my heart, my love, my prayer, my reflection, with all my inner strength, to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity," Benedict told the crowds in off-the-cuff remarks just hours before his resignation would take effect.
Looking peaceful and happy standing a few stories above the square, Benedict XVI assured the world that, in stepping down, he would "simply be a pilgrim” who was “beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth."
For the next two weeks, the See of Peter remained vacant until the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013.
In the two years following his resignation, Benedict’s days have been filled with prayer and study, largely out of the public view. He now goes by the simple title “Father Benedict.”