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Most Holy Father,
with feelings of great emotion and profound respect, not only the Church, but the whole world, has heard the news of your decision to give up the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter.
We would not be honest, Your Holiness, if we said that this evening there is not a hint of sadness in our hearts. In recent years, your teaching has been a window open onto the Church and the world, which let in the rays of truth and love of God, to enlighten and warm our journey, even and especially at times when clouds gathered in the sky.
All of us have realized that it is precisely the deep love that Your Holiness has for God and the Church that prompted you to make this act, revealing that purity of mind, that strong and demanding faith, that strength of humility and meekness, along with great courage, that have marked every step of your life and your ministry, and that can only come from being with God, from standing in the light of the word of God, from continuously going up the mountain of encounter with Him to descend again into the City of men.
Holy Father, a few days ago with the seminarians of your Diocese of Rome, you said that as Christians we know that the future is ours, the future belongs to God, and that the tree of the Church grows ever anew. The Church is always renewed, always reborn. Serving the Church in the firm knowledge that it is not ours, but God’s, that it is not we who build it but He; being able to say in truth: “We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty “(Lk 17:10), trusting completely in the Lord, is a great lesson that you, also with this difficult decision, have given not only to us, the Pastors of the Church, but to the entire People of God.
The Eucharist is a thanksgiving to God. Tonight, we want to thank the Lord for the path that the whole Church has walked under the guidance of Your Holiness and we want to tell you from the depths of our heart, with great affection, emotion and admiration: thank you for giving us the shining example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, a worker, however, who knew at all times how to do that which is most important: to bring God to men and to bring men to God.[Translation by Peter Waymel]