VALE Pope Benedict XVI
by Bishop Anthony Randazzo
“For us to grow today, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to come in contact with the beautiful”. This comment made by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in September 2002, is a far cry from the image of the man portrayed in some corners of the mass media where he was referred to as “God’s Rottweiler”.
When Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope on 19 April 2005, some Catholics feared that he would be a severe, rigid, and controlling leader. Likewise, it is fair to say that some Catholics hoped that this indeed would be the case. Fortunately, the majority of sensible Catholics steer clear from the transparency of labels and shallowness of name calling. Afterall, making negative judgements about people flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” (Luke 6:37)
I had the great privilege of having been called to Rome by Cardinal Ratzinger towards the end of 2003 to work in the Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In my first week in the Vatican, I recall the then Prefect giving a few words of welcome. Until that moment I had only read some of his writings, which were erudite, logical, and precise. Now I encountered a gentle man, by nature a shy person, who went out of his way to be hospitable and welcoming. He quietly enlightened me that I was the first Australian to work in the Holy Office.
As priest, theologian, bishop, Prefect, and Pope, Joseph Ratzinger tended to avoid things showy or overstated. It struck me that he was not so much interested in himself, rather he was captivated by the beauty of culture and life, in sum, he was caught up in the discovery of the creator of beauty and author of all life. Communicating and clarifying his discovery became his opus magnus, the great work of his life and ministry.
Benedict XVI will be remembered for many different reasons; however, I will always remember him for his work of uncovering the truth. Not some subjective opinion dressed up as “truth”, but the objective Truth, who is Christ Jesus. I recall working with him at a meeting in the Vatican when he reminded those of us with him that “consensus does not lead to truth, Truth leads to consensus.” It was an insight that I found to be simple and liberating. The clarity of his thinking has not diminished and is still worth pondering.
He often said that in our zeal for renewal we should not push aside our traditions as outmoded junk. Again, it was an appeal to moderation and thoughtfulness over excess and impulsiveness. Some criticised him for moving too slowly, others for not going far enough. I believe that he walked the via media and carried the burden of leadership in the best way he knew how, through fervent devotion to the Spirit, with deep faith in Jesus Christ, and by trusting in the faithfulness of God the Father. Might we also be inspired by him to do likewise.
We commend the soul of Benedict XVI to the tender love and mercy of God. May his final journey to the house of the Father bring him to full knowledge of the Truth and the joy of eternal life.
Australian Catholic Church mourns passing of Benedict - Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says Pope Benedict XVI will long be remembered fondly in Australia as the Pontiff who led young people from around the globe in prayer at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.
Pope Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger, led the Church from April 2005 until February 2013, becoming the first Pope in centuries to resign. He had earlier served as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the Vatican’s most influential departments, for more than two decades.
Pope Benedict died in Rome, where he had lived since his papal retirement, on Saturday evening, Australian time.
“From his time as an expert adviser – or peritus – at the Second Vatican Council onwards, there was no question that Joseph Ratzinger was a major figure within the Church around the world,” said Archbishop Costelloe, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
“His papacy will be remembered as one of rich teaching, including his encyclicals on love, hope and truth, as well as his book series Jesus of Nazareth, and for important reforms in areas like liturgy and in the handling of child sexual abuse.”
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, the bishop who oversaw World Youth Day in 2008, said Pope Benedict had been a key influence and someone with whom he became close.
“I had the great privilege of spending some private moments with Pope Benedict, away from the spotlight,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“They were moments I will forever cherish. He had a great intellect, which he shared through his work as a professor, a Church leader and ultimately as Pope.
“He did not seek nor enjoy the spotlight, but he produced some magnificent works that have shaped and will continue to shape Catholic thought and Catholic life.”
Cardinal George Pell - A scholar and a gentleman
The much loved Pope Benedict, successor of St. Peter from 2005-2013, has passed to his eternal reward. He inspired a decade of young vocations to the priesthood and religious life, was one of the finest theologians of the twentieth century and indeed the best theological writer from the long list of more than nineteen hundred years of popes. He was the first pope to abdicate since Celestine V in 1294.
Controversial because of his social and theological conservatism, he was regularly assailed by a wide variety of enemies, who understood his importance. He had been a brilliant junior partner to his predecessor St. John Paul the Great.
Benedict lived longer in retirement than as pope, was not a natural governor or manager and things did not turn out exactly as he hoped. The latter years of his pontificate were bedevilled by financial and other scandals.
As always therefore his legacy is mixed, but his contribution was invaluable for more than fifty years, from the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.
A Christian gentleman and a German scholar of the old school, Pope Benedict will be long revered for his faith, learning and fidelity.
But he will be mostly remembered for his abdication.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
“I am saddened to hear the news on the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. May he rest in eternal peace.”
United States President Joe Biden
“We will remember him for his humility and courage”.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
“A great theologian whose UK visit in 2010 was an historic moment for both Catholics and non Catholics throughout the country.”
Cardinal and Archbishop of London Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols
“He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century.”