Today marks one year since Benedict XVI announced his resignation. 'Total surprise, total shock,' was the experience of all those present, says Cardinal James Stafford of the meeting where he made the announcement, reports the Catholic News Agency.
Cardinal Stafford, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council of the Laity and Archbishop Emeritus of Denver, spoke of his experience at being in the room when the Pontiff revealed his decision.
Calling to mind the meeting where the announcement was made, the Cardinal revealed that 'it took place at a consistory of the cardinals,' which was basically a gathering of the cardinals of Rome.
The consistory meetings, he explained, were held regularly in order to discuss 'the presentation of those who were being beatified and canonised within the Catholic Church.'
'So we were gathered in the room of the consistorio, where we usually gathered with the Holy Father,' the Cardinal observed, where they were gathered in prayer.
The Liturgy of the Hours is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited by clergy, religious institutes, and the laity, and consists mainly of psalms, which are supplemented by hymns and readings.
The Cardinal also observed that there was 'a presentation by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, of those that were to be presented and voted upon that day, for beatification and canonisation.'
At the end of the prayer, 'we were asked to sit down - something unusual.'
'We all sat down, including the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, and a rather extensive paper was brought up to him by his secretary to read.'
Originally, 'I didn’t put any meaning upon all of that,' the Cardinal reflected. 'I just thought we would be having an adjunct, that was somewhat unusual, but not very unusual,' but 'within ten seconds' he knew something was happening because the Pope was speaking in Latin, not in Italian.
Benedict XVI’s final days as Pope (Vatican Insider)