A few hours before his resignation, Pope Benedict sought to reassure cardinals and the rest of the church on two important points. First, he said that the church is a “living reality” that can transform itself and adapt to modern times without changing its fundamental identity, which is found in Christ. The message here was that while papal resignation marks a shift in the office of the papacy, it does not mark a break with the church’s core mission and values. Second, Benedict, in the clearest words possible, pledged his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to the next pope. Although no one expects Benedict to interfere in any way with the ministry of his successor, this was a line that
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