Marktl am Inn (Bavaria) 04.16.1927 – † Vatican City 12.31.2022
Stringing together a few lines in homage and prayer, from the emotional memory of the one who was – even the past sounds with enormous harshness – Vicar of Christ on earth, Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVIit is little less than pretentious, when it is claimed by a person, in today’s world – a world of contradictions -, who simply had the privilege of knowing him for his works, and of admiring himself, without any merit, on various occasions and for reasons diverse.
They are moments of prayer, from the shock of news that, not expected, turns out to be lighter. He has left us, claimed by the Father, with the same style that he presided over his entire life: simplicity, humility and silence. that image of a great and holy manWe could well see him, without prerogatives, next to the left column of the transept in Saint Peter’s Basilica, occupying a place in the first row of the attending Cardinals, in any solemn celebration, without yielding one iota to the most rigorous demands of the moment. liturgical, as on occasions, strolling on the top of the Vatican hill on sunny days, simply accompanied by his faithful Secretary.
In his eight years of pontificate, I had the opportunity to greet him and speak to him on more than ten occasions. His verbal parsimony always penetrated the heart of those who received them., to stay for days without term. I remember that once, about a month before the World Meeting of Families, which was going to be held in Valencia in July 2006, in the Clementina Room – a setting of incomparable beauty – I told him with my usual audacity: Holy Father, in Valencia and throughout Spain, we are waiting for you with open arms and with the illusion that governs our wills. To which he replied, with his usual simplicity: Well, that’s very good and the Pope likes it. Couldn’t say more, with fewer words.
It was usual, already with Saint John Paul II, that the Pontifical Academies, on the occasion of their Plenary Assemblies, visit him in the Apostolic Palace, requesting specific doctrine on the subject that was submitted for study and discussion. Only the tenderness and humility of Pope Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), on the first occasion of his Pontificate, stated that he would like to visit the Academies at his place of work (Casina Pio IV) instead of at the Apostolic Palace, which would already have occasion for it. It was a festive session that no Academic, neither in the Sciences nor in the Social Sciences, will ever forget. The presentation of the themes, the discussions and the Pope’s contributions remained forever present in our minds.
Rigor, wisdom, humanism, deep knowledge of the doctrine, great theologian and great philosopher, he spoke with simplicity and clairvoyance of the most lurid topics. When he was elected Pope, he was already well known, not only in the Vatican Curia but in the Catholic and non-Catholic world, as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His work aimed at opening the Catholic Church to other monotheistic churches, and especially the Christian Churches, was appreciated and received with great enthusiasm from the first moment.
his three encyclical lettersthe “Deus caritas est”December 2005, the “Spe salvi”, November 2007, and the “Caritas in truth” of June 2009, are three monuments of pontifical doctrine, that have been the origin of multiple books and comments all over the world. The last one has allowed those of us who work on issues of the temporal order – the economy and economic resources and their use – to discover how the temporal order has no reason to be opposed to the supernatural order, if love and fraternity dwell in men. .
Along with the Encyclicals, the four Apostolic Exhortations, have rank and doctrine, to position themselves as the predominant light in the matters they address. The first two are purely doctrinal: the “Sacramentum Caritatis” of February 2007, speaks to us about the Eucharist as the fullness of Christian life and of the Church’s own mission; the “Verbum Domini” of September 2010, opens our eyes to the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.
The other two put their accent on the problems in which certain regions or continents live. Thus the first of these two, that is, the third in its total order, the “Africae munus” of November 2011, shows us the Church in Africa, at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace; Finally, the fourth, “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” of September 2012, deals with the great problem of the Church in that region, which takes shape in communion and witness.
There are innumerable Apostolic Letters, Apostolic Constitutions, Motu Proprio… on the most diverse subjects, as well as Messages for World Days. Due to our proximity, the eight Messages to the World Days for Social Communications and many others addressed to the World Youth Days are noteworthy, which, in this case, and its footprint is memorable, was held in August 2011 in Madrid , under a motto, which appears in the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Colossians [Col. 2, 7] “Rooted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith.”
We also owe to Benedict XVI, the Bull of elevation to the Minor Basilica, of the temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelonain November 2010. And we cannot fail to mention, his great work on Jesus Christ, in three volumes, on evangelical texts and other books of the New Testament, published between 2007 and 2012, is a work of obligatory reference, also for Christologists , but without excluding the people of God who want to know better the figure of the Savior.
The limitation of space, to which must be added the limitation of the mind of the writer, are urging the completion of these lines, which only intended to bear witness, from the freest personal opinion, of who has shepherded the Catholic Church for almost eight years, in addition to showing evidence of service to it since his youth as a seminarian, as a Priest, as a Bishop and as Supreme Pontiff, without disdaining his activity as a university professor, who remains in those cloisters as a benchmark of truth and rigor academic. This is how it will continue in our memories, as long as our breath accompanies us.
Requisition in pace (RIP)