Here is the translation of the statment made by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, after Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he would resign from the See of St. Peter.
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We listened to you with a sense of loss, almost in total disbelief. In your words we noticed the great affection that you have always had for the Holy Church of God, for this Church that you loved so much. Now allow me to tell you, in the name of this apostolic cenacle – the College of Cardinals – on behalf of these your dear colleagues, let me tell you that we are closer to you than ever, as we have been in these eight luminous years of your pontificate. On 19 April 2005, if I remember correctly, at the end of the Conclave I asked you, with trembling voice, “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?”, And you did not take long – albeit with trepidation – to respond by saying that you accepted, trusting in the Lord and in the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Like Mary, that day you gave your “yes” and thus began your luminous pontificate following in continuity, that continuity of which you have spoken to us so much in the history of the Church, in continuity with your 265 predecessors in the Chair of Peter, in the course of two thousand years of history, from the Apostle Peter, the humble fisherman of Galilee, up to the great popes of the last century, from St. Pius X to Blessed John Paul II. … Holy Father, before February 28, as you said, the day you wish to put the word ‘fine‘ over your pontifical service, performed with so much love, with humility, before February 28, we will have the opportunity to better express our feelings; as will many pastors and faithful throughout the world, as will so many people of good will along with the authorities of many countries. Then, in this month, too, we will have the joy of hearing your voice as shepherd on Ash Wednesday, then on Thursday, with the clergy of Rome, in the Angelus of these Sundays, at the Wednesday audiences; there will thus be many opportunities still to hear your fatherly voice … Your mission, however, will continue: you have said that you will always be close to us with your testimony and your prayer. Of course, the stars in the sky shine forever and so there will always shine in our midst the star of your pontificate. We are close to you, Holy Father, and bless us.