2013-02-28 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) As Catholics here in Rome and around the world bid goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI, the city and people of Liverpool are saying goodbye to their own local archbishop, Patrick Kelly whose resignation was accepted by Vatican on Wednesday.
Archbishop Kelly, who suffered a stroke in December, made the request to step down ahead of his 75th birthday later this year.
On Thursday, at the exact time that Pope Benedict ends his pontificate at Castel Gandolfo, Archbishop Kelly is leading the people of Liverpool in a special Mass of Thanksgiving in the Metropolitan Cathedral, accompanied by many other local religious and civic leaders.
Philippa Hitchen spoke to Archbishop Kelly just ahead of that event – he sums up Pope Benedict’s legacy to the Church in the words of Cardinal John Henry Newman, whom the Pope beatified on his 2010 visit to the UK: loving wisdom, wisest love……
Asked about his own feelings as he faces retirement, Archbishop Kelly speaks of “immense gratitude for the years in Liverpool and, before that, in Salford… I’m always totally overwhelmed by the sheer goodness and hope of so many people…not least here in the city of Liverpool, where there are so many massive issues facing people and yet the spirit of hope, their affection, their courtesy is something very precious indeed….
Asked about his memories of Pope Benedict and his gifts to the Church, he says, “I think I’d sum them up as ‘Loving wisdom and wisest love’…. I was privileged to know him as Cardinal Ratzinger and I was always deeply moved by his wisdom and ability to be truly attentive to what you would share with him and very often offer you insights that you’d never even dreamed of…..
Speaking of the Pope’s visit to the UK, Archbishop Kelly says: “Again for me, the highlight of that visit - and I think it’s clearly such an urgent issue of our time that will be handed onto his successor - I was privileged to be part of the interreligious dialogue meeting at Twickenham attended by Chief Rabbi and the leader of Muslim community and on that occasion, again, his words were marked by wisdom – it’s a massively important issue…..
Looking ahead to the election of the next Pope and the challenges he will face, Archbishop Kelly says: “It would be wonderful to be a fly on the wall…. the accumulated wisdom would be very special indeed with so many different perspectives. I think one of them - and I think it’s been true to what Pope Benedict has indicated since he made his decision - we need someone who can deal with issues at ‘head office’ to help the church work effectively in its interface with the wider world.. so I think it’s going to be a very interesting conclave indeed!”