Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at the age of 95 at 9:34 AM local time on December 31, 2022.
The humble and simple man preferred people call him Father Benedict in his retirement.
For some reason, too many people attempted to demonize Benedict.
Benedict was born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in a small Bavarian town on April 16, 1927. The rise of the Nazi party in Germany dominated his adolescent years. Despite people trying to connect him to the Nazis, Benedict always called them “sinister.”
Benedict did not join the German army until the end of WWII when he had to do the “forced conscription of two months.”
But Benedict and his older brother Georg always wanted to join the priesthood. His journey showcased his intelligence and put him at the top of one of the smartest in the Church:
Ordained a priest with his brother on June 29, 1951, Father Ratzinger finished his doctoral studies in theology and became a university teacher and vice president at the prestigious University of Regensburg in Bavaria. His reputation as an intellectual prompted an invitation to serve as an expert, or peritus, at the Second Vatican Council from Cardinal Joseph Frings, the archbishop of Cologne. He rapidly distinguished himself as an eminent theologian.
In 1977, Pope Paul VI named him archbishop of Munich and Freising and, later that same year, gave him the cardinal’s red hat.
Just four years later, in 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department of the Vatican dedicated to promoting and defending the teachings of the Catholic faith. He held the post until the death of John Paul II in 2005.
Benedict saw the problems facing the Church before becoming pope:
Widely recognized as one of the Catholic Church’s top theologians, Benedict’s pontificate was marked by a profound understanding of the challenges to the Church in the face of growing ideological aggression, not least from an increasingly secular Western mindset, both within and outside the Church. He famously warned about the “dictatorship of relativism” in a homily just before the conclave in 2005 that elected him pope.
The conclave elected Cardinal Ratzinger on April 19, 2005.
During that time, Benedict fought against the secular mindset and became a leading voice against the sexual abuse that poisoned the Church for so many years:
Benedict was also a key architect of the fight against sexual abuse in the Church in the early 2000s. He oversaw extensive changes to canon law and dismissed hundreds of offenders from the clerical state. He also launched a canonical investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, following growing allegations about grave sexual abuses from the order’s founder, the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado. The canonical investigation led to a long reform process under the authority of Cardinal Velasio de Paolis.
Benedict stressed Catholic teachings and tradition. You can thank him for the youth embracing the old ways, such as veiling at Mass and attending the Latin Mass.
But a leak of documents and communications tainted Benedict’s papacy. Some believe it led to Benedict announcing his resignation on February 11, 2013. It’s a shame corrupted people have brought shame to our Church. So much happened behind Benedict’s back.
Benedict, at 85 at the time, became the first pope since 1294 to voluntarily resign. He gave his age as the reason for his resignation.
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, insisted the leak scandal did not influence Benedict’s decision to retire. He said that Benedict “‘was courageous’ enough to realize he no longer had the strength to carry out the papal ministry.”
Benedict just wanted to teach and live a simple life. His title became His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman Pontiff Emeritus. But he told people to call him Father Benedict. He shunned the red papal shoes and wore a simple ring.
A year after his retirement, Catholic News Service detailed Benedict’s day, which was filled with prayer and constant communication with Pope Francis:
Archbishop Ganswein also confirmed that Pope Francis and Pope Benedict speak frequently on the telephone and have done so since the evening Pope Francis was elected.
“I was in the Sistine Chapel to greet the new pope and promise him obedience,” the archbishop said. “Immediately, Pope Francis asked me about Pope Benedict and said he wanted to call him. I dialed the number and handed him the telephone.”
Father Lombardi said the pope and the retired pontiff have shown the world that there was nothing to fear with having Pope Benedict live in the Vatican while a new pope reigned. “The fact is that the papacy is a service and not a power,” he said. Pope Benedict “fulfilled his service before God and in good conscience passed the witness of this service to another.”
As for Pope Benedict’s daily routine, Father Lombardi said it is that of “an elderly religious.” He said the retired pope’s guests come for conversation, for dialogue and “ask his advice and spiritual support.”
My goodness. I can post so much more about Pope Benedict. Instead, here are some links to posts at Catholic news sites:
- With ‘sorrow and gratitude,’ USCCB president reflects on the death and legacy of Benedict XVI
- PHOTOS: Key moments from Benedict XVI’s papacy
- A timeline of Pope Benedict XVI’s extraordinary life
- Benedict XVI’s Personal Secretary: ‘The Proclamation of God Was the Center of Benedict XVI’s Pontificate’
- Cardinal Müller: Benedict XVI Will Be Remembered as a ‘True Doctor of the Church for Today’
- Remembering Benedict XVI: 10 Quotes on Love, Death, Hope, Mary, and Marriage
Benedict will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica starting January 2. His funeral will take place on January 5 in St. Peter’s Square.DONATE
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