Monday, 18 February 2013

Prior General's letter to the Holy Father

Rome, 12 February 2013
Your Holiness
Pope Benedict XVI

Most Holy Father,

We were very surprised and moved by the announcement today of your decision to step down from the ministry of Peter.  On my own behalf and on behalf of the whole Carmelite Order, I wish to express to you, at this moment in your life and in the history of the Church, our deepest affection and gratitude for the service that devotedly and unselfishly you have given to the community of believers in Christ. I welcome with the greatest of respect the reasons that you have revealed and I see them as a further sign of your great love for the Church and of the thoughtfulness with which you have carried out and continue to carry out your service as Universal and Roman Pastor.

I will always cherish the memory of those moments when I met you personally. I remember your expressions of close interest and support on more than one occasion, not just for me but for our Order and for its life, going back to the first public audience which I attended soon after my election as Prior General, in 2007. What joy my confreres and I and all the members of the Carmelite Family felt when on the 26th of April, 2009, we heard your voice in St. Peter’s Basilica declaring that the name of Nuno de Santa Maria was being inscribed among the saints. I was deeply moved by the interest you showed in the work that we do with young people when we came to meet you in Castelgandolfo with young people from Europe who were taking part in the “Pilgrimage of Hope” in 2010. On that occasion you said to me that the Carmelites are the people “who teach us how to pray”. I can assure you that those words have remained in each one’s heart ever since. A year later a number of those young people along with myself and a number of Carmelite friars and sisters, took part in the World Youth Day in Madrid, where once again we were able to hear your strong message  encouraging everyone to follow Jesus Christ and to bring him to the world. More recently I had the opportunity to offer you my good wishes during the general audience of the 19th of September, 2012, on the occasion of the International Congress for Lay Carmelites.

I thank you for the beatifications which you approved and celebrated during your pontificate, some of which were in the time of my predecessor, Fr. Joseph Chalmers: Bl. Maria Crocifissa Curcio, Bl. Maria Teresa Scrilli, Blesseds Angel Prat and companions, carmelite martyrs, Bl. Candelaria de San José and Bl. Angelo Paoli. Two further groups of martyrs in Spain in the 20th century are due to be beatified this coming October. Similarly, the heroic virtue of a number of important figures, known for their holiness, has been recognised. To all of them and the Saints of Carmel I entrust you so that they may help you and protect you always.

We are indeed well aware of your love for the Mother and Sister of Carmel and on many occasions, we have rejoiced at your references to her. We have also appreciated that you have not forgotten that for many years you lived within the boundaries of the parish of Santa Maria in Traspontina and you visited the Church on many occasions as a Cardinal, especially during a novena in preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and to lead a lectio divina.

We thank you for the courage and the hope with which you spoke of your resignation, hope and courage which you always saw as essential to Christian life. We feel that we are close to you Holy Father in this important moment in your own life and in our life as Catholics. As we have done in the past and now more than ever, we assure you of our prayer and affection, certain as we are that your decision is a sign of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, for the good of the Church.

Together with my brother and sister Carmelites I once again offer my filial devotion to the Church, to you Holy Father and to whomsoever the Holy Spirit and the Cardinals will give us as the next successor of Peter.

P. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm.
Prior General

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