Remembering Pope Benedict XVI
January 12, 2023

From Bishop David Malloy

Josef Ratzinger, as a priest, bishop and cardinal, gave his life to the Church.  His holiness, combined with his extraordinary brilliance and insightful writings helped to deepen the Church’s understanding of the Scriptures, the liturgy and God’s revelation of His love and justice for all humanity.  He was a great witness to the teaching and application of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
As Pope, he took as his motto, “Cooperatores Veritatis" (Cooperators of the Truth).  In humility and with courage Pope Emeritus Benedict proclaimed by his teaching and his life the reality of God who is the basis of the truth that guides the human race.  Even in his years of retirement, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI witnessed to the goodness of faith.
Personally, I am deeply grateful to the Pope Emeritus.  He appointed me to serve as the ninth bishop of Rockford.  I had various opportunities to meet with him, especially during his apostolic visit to the United States in 2009.
May God reward Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and may he intercede for us and for the whole Church that he served so well.
From Father Jeremy Trowbridge
The papacy of Pope Benedict XVI was a very special time for me as I was training to be a priest.  I was blessed to spend five academic years in Rome during Pope Benedict's time as pope.  
We knew that Pope Benedict was very gifted in his understanding of theology, the liturgy, priestly identity and spiritual wisdom.  We listened to him with great attention during these important years of formation, a gift and opportunity for which I continue to be grateful.  
The photo above was taken during a general audience during December of 2007.  
In the winter months these audiences are held indoors with the pope and over 10,000 of his closest friends!  We consulted upperclassmen on what seats to select and how to greet our Holy Father so that we could assure a handshake.  
All the advice paid off!  It was a short yet beautiful moment with a future saint.  
You can tell from the look on my face, and the smile of future Father Bakkelund, that this was a highlight with our dear Holy Father, Benedict XVI! 
From Father Jonathan Bakkelund
I did most of my post-graduate research on the liturgical thought of Joseph Ratzinger and subsequently Pope Benedict XVI so to say I have a deep admiration and respect for him is an understatement. 
If you read one book by him, read “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” If you read one book about him, read “Milestones.”
Benedict XVI will inevitably end up as one of the most influential thinkers of Christian history. He championed a rediscovery of the Patristics at the Second Vatican Council which earned him the reputation as a liberal revolutionary. And as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he defended the unique and irreplaceable role of Jesus as the sole Redeemer of the human race, which was seen as an archaic and ultra-conservative teaching to promote. 
Whether seen as a liberal or conservative through the decades, Joseph Ratzinger has remained the same. A man of deep prayer and contemplation. A holy man. A man of the Church. A man who carried out his service and ministry with humility, courage, and fidelity.
I’ll never forget when the world was shocked after the death of the beloved John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger (“God’s Rottweiler”) had the reputation of being the Grand Inquisitor of the Holy Office. The world was expecting to hear a booming voice from an arrogantly dogmatic man. Enter Joseph Ratzinger. A meek and humble man with a soft-spoken and comforting voice. Many speculated at what would be his first encyclical as pope. Perhaps a treatise against relativism? No, no. Deus caritas est. God is love. From day one as pontiff he reminded us of the love of the Father.
He was often funny. I remember when he came to the United States for his apostolic visit in 2008 he met with the bishops of the country in the crypt under the National Shrine. 
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, who was the former bishop of Cincinnati and one who had many clashes with Joseph Ratzinger when he was Prefect of the CDF, asked a question from the floor. 
Pope Benedict warmly greeted him and said, “Yes, Archbishop. I remember you well and our many ‘spirited’ discussions.” The pope then went on to giggle and even chortle a little. It’s definitely worth a YouTube watch.
I feel blessed to have been formed by his life and writings. But the greatest blessing I feel is that every seminarian going through seminary finds priest mentors he eventually emulates. The way one preacher preaches, or a teacher teaches, or the example of a spiritual director who is unwaveringly faithful to his daily holy hour. 
For me, I was able to study in the shadow of Pope Benedict XVI and on a weekly basis be an eyewitness to his general audiences and the profoundly reverent way in which he celebrated the sacred liturgy — his life’s passion.
Pope Benedict recently said he was not preparing for the end but for an encounter. He has encountered Christ in the liturgy in a veiled fashioned thousands of times and taught many of us how to do the same. May he now encounter that same Jesus, this time, without a veil.


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