The death of any pope is a time of sadness for the Church universal. The death of our Holy Father, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is surely a time of intense grief for our local Church. Yet it is also a time of hopeful expectation as we place our trust in the Lord who promises the kingdom of God and the resurrection of the body for those who have followed him in this life. The faithful witness of his life and ministry, his theological and spiritual writings, and his almost hidden and prayerful example in recent years have provided the Church with a rich legacy. As such, the death of Pope Benedict XVI invites us to enter a time of remembrance and prayer. We pray for the repose of his soul and for the forgiveness of his sins so that he might see God face to face in the beatific vision of heaven.
I am requesting that all diocesan parishes pray for and offer a Mass for Pope Benedict and that parochial schools immediately offer prayers for the deceased Pontiff. I will offer today’s 4:30 p.m. Mass and tomorrow’s 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. John’s Cathedral for the repose of the soul of the deceased Pope, and the Feast of Holy Mary Mother of God. I invite the clergy, religious, and faithful of the diocese to join me in praying for the repose of the Pope Emeritus’ soul.
On the day of Pope Benedict’s funeral, Thursday, January 5, Bishop Martin Amos will celebrate a Mass for the Dead at the Cathedral at Noon. Please announce this to your parish community and invite the faithful to participate in this memorial Mass for Pope Benedict XVI.
Soon after the death of Pope St. John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 264th successor of St. Peter on April 18, 2005, and chose the name Benedict XVI. His papacy testifies to both a scholarly churchman, having extensively studied theology and philosophy, and pastoral sensitivity. When elected pope at age 78, he didn't anticipate traveling the globe given his age, but he quickly understood that the best way to reach the people of God was to go to them. During his pontificate, Benedict visited 24 countries on six continents. On Feb. 28, 2013, Pope Benedict announced his resignation, becoming the first pope in almost 600 years to resign from the papacy. On that day he explained that, due to his advanced age, he no longer had the strength to properly exercise the Petrine ministry.
Pope Benedict’s experience as a priest and an "expert" at the Second Vatican Council was immensely valuable and fundamental to his life. The rapid succession of his numerous, detailed publications has also continued as the years have passed, serving as a reference point for Catholics and especially for those involved in advanced theological studies. His role as Ppesident of the Commission for Drafting the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the six years of intense work (1986-92) behind its preparation are one of his many outstanding achievements.
The president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, stated “We assure remembrance in prayer in our churches, in the knowledge, as he himself had reminded us, that ‘no matter how hard the trials, difficult the problems, heavy the suffering, we will never fall out of the hands of God, those hands that created us, sustain us and accompany us on the journey of existence, because they are guided by an infinite and faithful love.’”