Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Remembering Pope Benedict XVI

     "...After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry..."

  Today, it has been exactly one year since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the Petrine office.  So many things have changed since then!  Let's pray for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis and for our Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, who still continues to be a great blessing for the church.  Our Lady of Lourdes (Feast day today), pray for all of our church leaders!  

An important fact to remember:

"I'm not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it's very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I'd also say it's necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don't take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn't think we were so important."

Pope Benedict XVI


Articles remembering that historic day:        

"Today I ask you to join me in prayer for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility."   -Pontifex @Twitter.com

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI a year from his 

B16 now
(Vatican Radio) It was exactly one year ago, on February 11th, 2013, that the then-Pope, Benedict XVI, stunned the Church and the world with the announcement of his resignation, effective just over two weeks later, at the end of the month.
The resignation set in motion a series of events, the momentum of which is still very much with us. Since his resignation took effect, however, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has stayed largely out of the public eye: “withdrawn from the world,” as he himself described his circumstances.

Nevertheless, the man who served nearly eight years as bishop of Rome and then became the first Pope in nearly 600 years to resign the office, continues his life of prayer, correspondence, and even private visits with old friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

According to a report appearing in The Voice of Romagna, a small regional daily published in the Italian city of Rimini, some recent guests of Benedict were the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, Luigi Negri, and Professor Marco Ferrini, who together lead the John Paul II International Fund for the Social Magisterium of the Church, with the professor describing the Pope-emeritus as, “lively,” though the weight of his 87 years is apparent.

Though he is out of the public spotlight, the Pope-emeritus has maintained an interest in affairs. “He spoke to us of the difficulty of the context in which the Church of today moves and acts, experiencing as it is an ever more virulent attack from the world,” said Ferrini, who went on to say that his host is not discouraged by the state of thing. He quoted the Holy Father as saying, “If there is no struggle, then it is not Christianity.” 
Listen to Chris Altieri's report: 

Benedict XVI's personal secretary: former Pope's resignation "revolutionary and courageous”

 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) In an interview with the Vatican Television Center (CTV) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s personal secretary recalls the day on which Pope Francis’ predecessor announced his decision to resign. “The 11th of February last year was a very special day,” said Archbishop Georg Gänswein, a day he says was marked by feelings of “sadness and gratitude.”

“Clearly, taking one’s leave is always a sad thing, a thing that hurts, that is painful” says Gänswein who is also head of the papal household. “On the other hand, there was also the feeling of gratitude for these years that I was able to live near a great Pope. I knew about (the announcement) a little before, and certainly, when the Pope told me, he told me with orders not to tell anyone, and I did not say anything. I knew about it, however, at the moment he said it, I was shocked. For me, the last day of his pontificate was a day of great sorrow.”

One year on from that historic day, Gänswein reiterates his belief that Benedict’s resignation was an “act of great courage, even a revolutionary act, which opened up possibilities that no one at that moment could see.”

“The Pope said it himself, when he read out the text of his announcement, that he was no longer able to guide the barque of Peter, the Church of the Lord.” Gänswein describes the resignation as “an act of love for the Lord, for the Church and for the faithful, to step aside to open up the possibility to a person who has more strength who can continue his work.”
Gänswein says he “strongly” believes that Benedict’s gesture had a great impact on the faithful’s emotional reaction to Francis, saying that it “is an aspect that should not be underestimated.”

“We are all seeing the impact of Pope Francis on the world, not only on the faithful in the Church, but on the world; it is a huge impact, and this impact was also facilitated by Pope Benedict in his resignation. He opened up a possibility that until then was not there, and we see that Pope Francis has taken up this situation and we are pleased that today it is so. "
To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, CTV has created a box set of five DVDs entitled “From Benedict to Francis,” showcasing recordings of the most important events marking the changeover of pontificates. The DVDs offer an archive of the period from February 11 to March 27, 2013 following the resignation of Benedict to Pope Francis’s first audience.

Benedict's Brother Says Pope Emeritus Has No Regrets  Says Decision of a Year Ago Was Clear and Continues Today

ROME, February 11, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Georg Ratzinger says his brother does not regret at all the decision to resign from the papacy, a decision that was publicly announced one year ago today.

A reporter from Spain’s "La Razon" newspaper spoke with Monsignor Ratzinger by telephone.

The monsignor, who is 90, reported that Benedict XVI is “in a good state of health; he tries to be peaceful although he does not have as much time as he would like to play the piano and to answer telephone calls, because he still has many visits and audiences,” he explained.

Monsignor Ratzinger assured that Benedict XVI continues with his theology studies but did not confirm the possibility that he is writing Memoirs. “I cannot confirm it; moreover, books already exist that recount amply my brother’s life, so that the essence of his work is already contained in those works.”

On asking Monsignor Ratzinger about the first anniversary of the renunciation and the reflections made during these months, he said: “My brother doesn’t regret at all the decision he made a year ago. He is very clear about the tasks and functions he wishes to carry out and what happened a year ago was a clear decision which continues to be valid today.”

Vatican Spokesman Reflects on Benedict's Resignation 
and His Example Today Describes Resignation as "Great Act of Government, Made with Great Spiritual Profundity."

VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2014 (Zenit.org) - On the first anniversary of the announcement of Benedict XVI’s renunciation of the Petrine ministry, Holy See Press Office Director Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi spoke with Vatican Radio's Alessandro Gisotti about the momentous day a year ago.

Father Lombardi: It has been centuries since there was a papal resignation; hence, for the very great majority of people it was an unheard of and surprising gesture. In reality, for those who were closer to Benedict XVI, it was known that he had reflected on this subject, and he said so explicitly in his conversation with Peter Seewald, some time earlier – at an earlier time. Therefore, it was a subject on which he prayed, reflected, evaluated, and made his spiritual discernment. It was something that he then acted on and he gave us a synthetic report about on the day of his resignation, in those brief but very dense words that explained in an absolutely appropriate and clear way the criteria on the basis of which he made his decision. What I say – and I already said it at the time – is that it seemed to me a great act of government, that is, a decision made freely that really affected the situation and the history of the Church. In this sense, it was a great act of government, made with great spiritual profundity, with great preparation from the point of view of reflection and prayer; and great courage because being, effectively, an unheard of decision, all problems and doubts could be exercised about “what” it meant, as reflections, as consequences for the future, as reception on the part of the people of God or of the public. The clarity with which Benedict XVI had prepared himself for this gesture and, I would say, the faith with which he prepared himself, gave him the serenity and strength necessary to carry it out, going with courage and serenity, with a vision that was truly of faith and of awaiting the Lord, who constantly accompanies His Church. [It was] an encounter with this new situation which he lived personally, for several weeks, and which the Church then lived with the coming of the election of the new Pope, as we all know. One sees that there has truly been this sense of accompaniment of the journeying Church by the Spirit of the Lord.

In regard, precisely, to this last passage: a year ago many wondered how the unheard of coexistence of two Popes would be. Today we see that the many fears – perhaps more of the “experts” than of the people of God – were exaggerated.

Father Lombardi: Yes, from this point of view, it seemed absolutely clear to me that there should not be any fear whatsoever. Why? Because the issue is the fact that the papacy is a service and not a power. If problems are lived in the framework of power, then it’s clear that two persons could have difficulties in coexisting because of the fact of giving up a power and having to live with the successor. However, if everything is lived exclusively as service, then a person who has fulfilled his service before God and in full awareness, passes the witness of this service to another person who, with an attitude of service and of full liberty of conscience, carries out this task, then there is absolutely no problem! There is a profound spiritual solidarity between the Servants of God who seek the good of the people of God in the service of the Lord.

Pope Benedict took leave underlining that he would continue to serve the Church with prayer. This is a really extraordinary contribution he has given, and is still giving, no?

Father Lombardi: Yes … a very small personal recollection. Above all, in the early days of the Pontificate, every time there was an audience and I went by to greet the Pope, as usual he gave me a Rosary, because it often happens that one is given an image, a Rosary, a medal … And every time the Pope gave me a Rosary he said: “Priests must also remember to pray.” See, I’ve never forgotten this, because he manifested thus, in a very simple way, his conviction and his attention to the place of prayer in our life, also and in particular in the life of one who has tasks of responsibility in the Lord’s service. Look, Benedict XVI was certainly always a man of prayer, in his whole life, and he wished, probably, to have time in which to live this dimension of prayer with more space, totality and profundity. And this is now his time.

But Pope Benedict’s life of prayer is not lacking in moments of encounter, also with Pope Francis, as we know. What can you say about this hidden, but not isolated, life of Joseph Ratzinger?

Father Lombardi: I think it’s right to realize that he lives in a discreet way, without a public dimension. However, this does not mean that he lives isolated, closed as in a strict cloister. He carries out the normal activity of an elderly person – an elderly religious person. Hence, a life of prayer, of reflection, of reading, of writing in the sense that he answers the correspondence he receives; of conversations, of meetings with persons who are close to him, whom he gladly meets, with whom he considers it useful to converse, who ask him for advice or spiritual closeness. Hence, it is the life of a spiritually rich person, of great experience, in a discreet relation with others … What does not exist is the public dimension to which we were accustomed when he was Pope and was, therefore, always on television screens, before the attention of the whole world. This doesn’t exist, but as for the rest, he lives a normal life of relations. And among these relations is the relation with his Successor, his relation with Pope Francis that, as we know, has moments of meeting, of dialogue … one has gone to the other’s house and vice versa. And then there are the other forms of contact which can be the telephone or messages that are sent: an altogether normal situation of relation, I would say, of solidarity. I think it is very lovely for us, when we have those rare images of the two Popes together and praying together – the present Pope and the Pope Emeritus. It is a very beautiful and encouraging sign of the continuity of the Petrine ministry in the service of the Church.

Finally, Father Lombardi, you followed Benedict XVI throughout his Pontificate. What is Pope Benedict giving to you now, personally, spiritually since last February 11?
Father Lombardi: Well I feel Pope Benedict XVI’s presence very much, as a strong spiritual presence that accompanies, that uplifts … I think of the great figures of the elderly in the history of the Church and of sacred history. In particular, we all think, for instance, of Simeon, who received Jesus in the Temple and who looked with joy also at his eternal destiny and at the future of the community that continues to walk on this earth. See, we all know the very great value of having the elderly with us, elderly who are rich in wisdom, rich in faith, serene. They are truly a very great help for those who are younger, helping them to go forward, to look to the future with confidence and hope. This is what Benedict XVI is for me – and I believe for the Church: the Great Elderly Man, wise, let’s say pure, holy, who invites us with serenity, because it’s also lovely when one sees it. He truly gives an impression of great spiritual serenity. He has kept his usual smile, in lovely moments when we meet him, and which invites us therefore to go forward on the way, with confidence and hope.

Vatican Official: Benedict XVI's Resignation Still "Tugs at My Heart"Msgr. John Kennedy Also Recalls Working Under Cardinal

Ratzinger at CDF

By Ann Schneible

VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2014 (Zenit.org) - On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world with the announcement that he would be stepping down from the Petrine ministry.

Since his resignation took effect less than two weeks later, the now Pope Emeritus has taken up residence in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, located within the Vatican walls. There he quietly prays, studies, enjoys his music, and receives a few select visitors. As he promised, he has remained out of the public’s view.

Yet the resonance of his decision to step down still remains one year later, especially among those who knew him well.

Monsignor John Kennedy is an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) who worked under the leadership of the then-prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger.

In this Feb. 11 interview with ZENIT, he shared some of his memories of the former pontiff:
ZENIT: What was going through your mind when you learned that Pope Benedict had announced he would be resigning at the end of the month?

Msgr. Kennedy: You sometimes meet people who ask you: Do you remember where you were on the day when JFK was shot, or the Twin Towers came down, or when World War II ended. I can think very clearly of exactly where I was.

I was in the north of Italy, and I was just ready to leave the hotel after a two-day ski trip, and my brother phoned and said: “What’s going on in Rome?”. I said “I don’t really know. I’m not there.” He said: “Switch on the TV as soon as you can, and you’ll see exactly what’s going on.”

That moment of Pope Benedict announcing that he would almost three weeks later step down was one of those moments that is like throwing a stone into a pond, and watching all the ripples going out towards the edge of the sea. The ripple effects of that moment, I think, are still being felt one year later. What is prolonging this tugging at my heart is that he is, in some sense, gone from the Petrine Ministry but not in the usual way.

ZENIT: You’ve known Pope Benedict for many years, having worked under him at the CDF. What struck you most about him?

Msgr. Kennedy: As a seminarian, the name “Josef Ratzinger” was a household name. If you had read his books, then you knew more about him. You certainly knew who he was and his role in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he had been appointed by Pope John Paul II.

When I had the chance to return to Rome to do post-graduate studies in 1998, I had the great opportunity to live at the Teutonic College, which is nestled between the audience hall and Saint Peter’s Basilica. It’s a German stronghold which goes back to 1876, and even beyond that before it became a college.

Cardinal Ratzinger was a person who knew the college very well. He was invited every Thursday morning for the German-speaking pilgrims. You can imagine German pilgrims coming down by buses, by train, and going to the audience on Wednesday, staying overnight (because it was a long journey), but many of them, because they knew he was saying Mass there the next morning, would come to the 7am Mass in German.

Three things really strike me about him. As a priest, you’d come down to the Sacristy to get ready. When we came down at 10 minutes to 7 in the morning, he was already there: vested, ready for Mass, praying, and greeting individuals as they’d come in, remembering faces, catching up with people.

The second thing I noticed was that he almost stood back from the celebration of the Mass so that you had no sense that it was about him in any way, but only about God. He almost disappeared as the Eucharist took central place. I thought I was the only one to see this but on one occasion I was present in Saint Peter’s Square where I overheard two young men saying: “Isn’t it amazing how he does not get in the way of the Eucharist?”

The other thing was that he would stand and greet all the pilgrims after the Mass before slipping quietly in to the dining room to have breakfast. I noticed that his tastes were very simple and that he enjoyed the company of the various people who were present. Most of the time it was the Rector, the post-graduate priests and some seminarians, while at other times there were visiting professors from all over Europe. You could see that the conversation was lively, often with humor and great personal interest. When he had finished, he would stand up, clear away his dishes,and then he was gone by 8am.

A couple of years later when I got to work for him in the CDF, I realized that he was at the office at least half an hour before everybody else, because our office didn’t begin until half past 8 in the morning.

ZENIT: How would you describe Pope Benedict?

Msgr. Kennedy: Pope Benedict was a shy, but extremely intelligent man, a person who was very sincere, very gentle.

I remember when my mother turned 60, I asked if it would be possible for her to meet him, and he said: “Oh yes, bring her in at a quarter to 1.” I brought her in and they sat like two friends on the sofa in his private office, and had a good old chat for about fifteen or twenty minutes. He was very kind. He was very gracious. He’d remember details about you, and years later he’d be able to say: How is that situation, or how is that person that I met years ago?

When it comes up in conversation that you work for someone like Cardinal Ratzinger, many people are curious to know what he is like. The information they had been fed about Cardinal Ratzinger was often a diet of what some newspapers had said about him. I often noticed that people were already changing their minds about him when I began to speak about what it was like to work with him, about how kind, paternal, gentle and interesting he was.

I often said that he was a shy man, but one who was gifted with a most amazing memory. He was able to remember very specific details about people and then ask them, often years later, how a particular situation was, how their mother or father were, or was able to recall something that the individual had said to him often years earlier.

This was a side we saw of him every day in the Congregation.

ZENIT: What sort of response do you hear from pilgrims with regard to Pope Benedict?

Msgr. Kennedy: Various people have come to Rome in the last year, friends, relatives, pilgrimage groups, students, and almost every one of them, almost as a natural part of their appreciation and fondness for Pope Francis, made some mention of the fact the way for the new Pope was prepared by the generous, courageous and humble act of Pope Benedict. They were curious to know where he was living, what he was doing, whether anyone had access to him, whether he might make the odd public appearance or if he had come back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where he had been Prefect for over two decades.

One thing about living in historical times, and particularly since we live in a media age where it is so easy to document various happenings, is that we have the chance to discuss and record for all posterity our reaction to this phenomenon one year later. This was not so much the case, I imagine, the last time this happened.

Benedict XVI: The Humble Pope

How One Man's Humility Changed the World

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, February 11, 2014 (Zenit.org) - February 11th, 2013 began like any other day for me. I was barely a year in Rome as ZENIT’s English Edition correspondent and there was always a lot of work. I decided the day before that I would work from home in a more relaxing environment. Little did I know, it would be anything but that.

Before midday, I received a call from a good friend of mine asking me if it was true that Pope Benedict had resigned. I gave the usual response: “No, it's probably a rumor.”

“But that’s being reported on ANSA!” he said. Surprised that a reputable agency like ANSA was reporting that, I ran to my computer.

As I was logging on, I received an email notification from the Holy See Press Office stating that there was going to be a press conference in 30 minutes and attached to the email was the text of Pope Benedict’s announcement. Completely shocked, I grabbed all my things and asked my friend to give me a ride to the Vatican since it would’ve taken me over an hour with public transportation.

Luckily, he had a motorcycle which allowed us to bob and weave through traffic and get me to the press conference as it started.

The weather fitted my mood perfectly that day: cloudy, rainy, and frankly a bit sad. I couldn’t understand it at first. I was in Rome for less than a year, but I grew to appreciate the wisdom of Pope Benedict. To know that he would not be Pope anymore really struck me.

As I look back and reflect on this one year anniversary, one thing is absolutely clear: Benedict XVI loved the Church, and I don’t mean the institution. I mean the people within the Church, those who are part of the Body of Christ. Many in the media mischaracterized him and his resignation, speculating that the weight of the scandals rocking the Church and the betrayal of hismaggiordomo was just too much for him.

In reality, what was perceived as his greatest moment of weakness was actually his finest moment of strength. It showed something rarely seen in today’s world: humility.

Many thought that the next Pope needed to be someone who was assertive, who would take the reins of the Church with full force and be the opposite of Benedict XVI’s meek and soft-spoken demeanor. After the conclave, the new Pope from “the end of the world”, asked for the prayers of the People of God as he humbly bowed down to them.

On March 13th, 2013, God proved that humility, shown by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and now in his own way, Pope Francis, is what the Church continues to need today.

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