Pope Benedict XVI issued a special Apostolic Blessing to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Limerick ahead of his resignation later today.
The outgoing Pontiff also sent word ahead of the ordination of Fr Brendan Leahy as Bishop of Limerick that he is in his thoughts and prayers.
Details of Pope Benedict’s prayers for the Bishop Elect and the diocese were relayed to Fr Leahy by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Congregation for Bishops in the Vatican.
“Cardinal Ouellet sent me a very encouraging letter about my appointment as Bishop of Limerick. In it he told me of a recent meeting he had with Pope Benedict in which the Pope spoke of my appointment,” said Fr Leahy, who will be ordained in April.
“As well as assuring me that he would keep me in his prayers, Pope Benedict warmly imparted to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Limerick his Apostolic Blessing. I think we can now see this Apostolic Blessing as a parting gift from the Pope to the diocese of Limerick,” added Fr Leahy, whose appointment was announced at the end of January.
He said the Pope Benedict’s blessing should be welcomed by Catholics across the diocese.
“It is offered to everyone in the diocese as we set out on a new stage in the diocese’s journey of faith, hope and love. Let us pray for Pope Benedict in gratitude for his example of great trust in the future of the Church as he continues to live in the service of the Church through prayer,” he said.
As cardinals prepare to gather in Rome for the papal conclave to elect Pope Benedict’s successor, masses will be celebrated throughout Limerick today for Pope Benedict.