A Statement from Bishop Deeley on the Passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is a great sadness for the universal Church and a personal loss for me and countless others who benefited from his great faith, intelligence, and kindness. He served for over seven decades as a priest and nearly eight years as the Successor to St. Peter. His contributions to theology are extraordinary, including the creation of many conciliar documents, and even as his health declined in recent years, he continued to teach of the sacredness of life.
I worked with Benedict when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during his long tenure as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Vatican City. He knew that faith is entrusting oneself to Jesus and being conformed to his very life of love, and to believe is to enter into that love. Pope Benedict taught that holiness was charity lived to the full and that being a Christian “is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Pope Benedict XVI spent his life educating those he encountered on the truth that Jesus is the one who reveals God’s love to each of us. A beautiful sentiment he shared in his homily at the Easter Vigil in 2011 has always stuck with me and informs on how faith-filled he was:
“The sweep of history established by God reaches back to the origins, back to creation. Our profession of faith begins with the words: ‘We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.’ If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small. The Church is not some kind of association that concerns itself with man’s religious needs but is limited to that objective. No, she brings man into contact with God and thus with the source of all things. Therefore, we relate to God as Creator, and so we have a responsibility for creation. Our responsibility extends as far as creation because it comes from the Creator. Only because God created everything can he give us life and direct our lives. Life in the Church’s faith involves more than a set of feelings and sentiments and perhaps moral obligations. It embraces man in his entirety, from his origins to his eternal destiny. Only because creation belongs to God can we place ourselves completely in his hands. And only because he is the Creator can he give us life forever. Joy over creation, thanksgiving for creation and responsibility for it all belong together.”
Pope Benedict XVI knew and shared that the Gospel opens us to great possibility when we live life generously serving one another in our families, parishes, and communities, and we are all better people and better Catholics as a result. We pray that Pope Benedict XVI, a great man of the Church, will find eternal peace in the embrace of the Lord Jesus he served so faithfully in life. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.