From a friend:
One of Benedict’s final public statements prior to his resignation was to the Seminarians of Rome on February 8. Aside from being a beautiful and insightful essay, the statement is worth reading for Benedict’s anticipation of the uncertainty that I’m sure he expected would follow the announcement that he would be stepping down.
While the Vatican hasn’t yet translated it from the Italian, you can get a rough translation from Google/Google Chrome.
A few highlights:
Benedict speaks of Saint Peter’s “first encyclical,” then reflects on the Catholic (and pastoral) privilege and humility of being “elected.” He refers to our “inheritance” (“eredità”) of the Church, emphasizing that the Church is not a dying tree, but a tree that will always grow anew.
The Pope then compares “false optimism” and “false pessimism,” particularly since the Second Vatican Council:
We have reason not to let ourselves be influenced — as Pope John said — by the prophets of doom. . . Naturally, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism that says: Christianity’s time is over. No: it begins anew! The false optimism was that following the Council, when convents closed down, seminaries closed down, and they said: well… this is nothing, all is well… No! All is not well!
Benedict adds that the Church is “born again” (“nasce di nuovo”), that the future really is God’s future, and that this is the great “certainty” of life. Benedict assures us that the Church is the “tree of God” that will live forever.