Bishop Anthony B. Taylor has been able to meet with Pope Benedict XVI three times since the pope named him a bishop in 2008. Including celebrating Mass with him in 2008 in Washington, D.C., and in 2012 during the bishop’s ad limina visit to the Vatican, Bishop Taylor was able to present a copy of the Little Rock Scripture Study Bible to the pope in October 2011.
Bishop Taylor issued the following statement Feb. 11:
“Although I am saddened by today's news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI for the reason of the enfeeblement of old age, I note that this is one more example of Pope Benedict's profound humility and love for the Church which he has evidenced so clearly throughout his eight years as pope.
“I shall always be grateful to him for the warmth with which he received me on several occasions in Rome, including during my ad limina visit in March of last year. I was privileged to celebrate Mass with him in Washington during his visit to the United States in 2008, only five days after the public announcement that he had named me to be the next bishop of Little Rock. Indeed the announcement was timed so that I could be present.
“Despite being already 78 years of age when he was elected, Pope Benedict maintained a schedule that would be daunting for a man half his age, but he was determined not to allow his physical weakness to prevent him from reaching out with pastoral care to address the needs and hopes and pain of so many in the world today, regardless of religion or nationality. He reached out with special solicitude to the beleaguered people of the Middle East, to those living in abject poverty throughout the world and to the youth. He proclaimed the Gospel of Life eloquently and insistently and warned us of the dictatorship of relativism in which eternal truths are rejected as being just one opinion among many.
“He reached out patiently to Catholics alienated from the Church, he worked hard to open the eyes of those who had fallen into doctrinal errors, and he proclaimed the primacy of charity as fundamental to the mission of the Church. He called for a more equitable sharing of the world's resources, relief for nations floundering under the burden of inherited international debts that exceeded their ability to repay and greater respect for the environment.
“And in all of this he invited people to a personal, saving encounter with Jesus Christ and the good news that -- in Jesus -- God has intervened in human history to set us free from the power of sin and death, from all the evils that enslave us.
“Our next pope has big shoes to fill as did Pope Benedict when he succeeded Pope John Paul II. Let us pray for the College of Cardinals, that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they will choose for us a worthy successor well equipped to address the complex challenges we face in the world today.”
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