I am sorry about the Pope’s decision to renounce the Pontificate. This is an original decision as he is an original and courageous man. I think he is an outstanding and unique spiritual leader.
I think that Pope Benedict XVI’s contribution has had an important impact. He is a man of profound thinking. A body may age, but wisdom never ages.
He has a real commitment to peace and to humanity. He has the sincerity of a real believer, the wisdom of a man who can understand the changes in history and the understanding that although we are different we should not become strangers or enemies.
In the relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people he made a number of gestures. He said the Jewish people are not responsible for the death of Jesus, he reiterated that “the Jewish people are our elder brothers” and he said God never abandoned the Jewish people. He visited Israel and the Great Synagogue in Rome to express his friendship and solidarity. I accompanied him in Israel and he was exceedingly friendly and truly sympathetic. He prayed for peace in the Middle East as I and others do.
He cannot be judged as the administrative leader of the Vatican, but as a spiritual leader with depth, knowledge and wisdom. I consider him a friend, I wish him well and I will stay in touch with him in the future.
We shall pray in Jerusalem that he will regain his physical strength and contribute his wisdom, depth and friendship to all peoples, to all religions.
We will remember him with respect and appreciation for what he did.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 22, 2020
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