On Saturday 31 December 2022, at 9.34, has passed away in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. He was 95.
It was Matteo Bruni, the Vatican spokesperson, who made the announcement. As from Monday 2 January 2023, the body of the late pope emeritus will be put at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican so that the faithful could pay their last respects.
On Wednesday 29 December 2022, Pope Francis requested the faithful to intercede for his predecessor. In his message Pope Francis said that Benedict was very sick. Speaking at the end of his weekly general audience in the Vatican, the Argentine Pope asked for a “special prayer” for the German ex-pontiff, who was the first pope to resign in 600 years when he stepped down because of his ill health on 11 February 2013.
Born as Joseph Ratzinger, he was elected pope on 19 April, 2005, after succeeding Polish pope Saint John Paul II.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a great and holy Pope. His teachings show his great intellectual, moral and spiritual calibre. On many subjects he has a lot teach us as well as enlighten our hearts, minds and consciences. Here are some examples of the marvelous teachings he imparted to us.
He reminds us to trust God at all cost. He said: If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge. You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One that loves you.
Truth does not depend on a majority vote. It depends on itself. He said: Truth is not determined by a majority vote.
Women are at the centre of Christianity. He said: It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stands at the heart of the Christian religion.
You and I are the direct result of God’s caring thought and not a by-product of an evolutionary chance. He said: We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.
We were created for greatness not to be ruined by comfort. He said: The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.
The core of our Christian faith is that of humbly accepting that we are loved by God and respond to His love which embraces all creation, especially men. To have faith is to love every person as God’s image. He said: To have Christian hope means to know about evil and yet to go to meet the future with confidence. The core of faith rests upon accepting being loved by God, and therefore to believe is to say Yes, not only to him, but to creation, to creatures, above all, to men, to try to see the image of God in each person and thereby to become a lover. That’s not easy, but the basic Yes, the conviction that God has created men, that he stands behind them, that they aren’t simply negative, gives love a reference point that enables it to ground hope on the basis of faith.
When we are friends with Christ we are really free and redeemed. He said: Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.
Finally, only purity of heart gives us the grace to really see. He said: Purity of heart is what enables us to see.
While praying for his soul we all know that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a holy Pope who loved Jesus and His Church with all his heart, mind and strength. He gave his entire life for it particularly in the hidden life he led during his last ten years of his life at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Let us pray to God, through his powerful intercession, so that we too might have that strong and committed friendship with Jesus as he had. Let us pray to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to intercede for us before the Throne of God in all our needs, be they physical, psychological and spiritual. Let us pray for the day that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be beatified and canonized.
Pope Benedict XVI pray for us and protect us from your Heavenly abode. Be with us and lead us always in love by the way of truth. Amen.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap