Pope Francis says Pope Benedict’s conscience told him to resign

Pope Francis says Pope Benedict’s conscience told him to resign

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Pope Francis embraces emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, March 23. Pope Francis travelled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for a private meeting with the retired pontiff. (CNS photo/L'Oss ervatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis embraces emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, March 23. Pope Francis travelled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for a private meeting with the retired pontiff. (CNS photo/L’Oss ervatore Romano via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation was “a great example” of what it means to follow one’s conscience through prayer, Pope Francis said during his Sunday Angelus address June 30 to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Following one’s conscience doesn’t mean chasing after one’s own self-interests; it calls for listening to God, understanding his will and carrying out his plan with determination, Pope Francis said. Pope Benedict provided a “recent marvelous example” of following one’s conscience, Pope Francis said, evidently referring to the retired pope’s decision to leave office.

“Pope Benedict XVI gave us this great example when the Lord led him to understand, in prayer, what was the step he should take,” Pope Francis said. “He followed, with a great sense of discernment and courage, his conscience, that is, the will of God, who spoke to his heart.” References to the retired pope drew applause from the crowd, which Pope Francis urged on with encouraging gestures.

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