At 11:00 am this morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father met with the Cardinals present in Rome, for his farewell address.
Here is a translation of the address given by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, to the Holy Father on behalf of all those present:
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With great trepidation the Cardinal Fathers present in Rome gather around you today, to once again express their deep affection and to express our heartfelt gratitude for your selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of the Church of Christ and of all humanity.
Last Saturday, at the end of the Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican, you thanked your collaborators in the Roman Curia, with these moving words: "My friends, I would like to thank all of you not only for this week but for these eight years, during which you have carried with me, with great skill, affection, love and faith, the weight of the Petrine ministry."
Beloved and revered Successor of Peter, it is we who must thank you for the example you have given us in the past eight years of your Pontificate. On April 19, 2005, you came to join the long line of successors of the Apostle Peter, and today, February 28, 2013, you prepare to leave us, waiting for the helm of the barque of Peter to pass into other hands. There shall thus continue that apostolic succession, which the Lord has promised to his Holy Church, until the voice of the Angel of the Apocalypse is heard on earth proclaiming: Tempus not erit amplius... consummabitur mysterium Dei"(Rev 10: 6-7) "There will be no more delay: the mystery of God will be fulfilled!" Thus shall end the history of the Church, together with the history of the world, with the advent of a new heaven and a new earth.
Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: "Were not our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way?"(Lk 24:32).
Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts, too, burned while we walked with you these past eight years.Today we want to once again express our gratitude to you. We repeat in chorus a typical expression of your dear native land: Vergelt's Gott, may God reward you!
[Translation by Peter Waymel/ZENIT News Agency]