source: Ministry of Irish Catholic Communications
In response to the Holy See’s announcement of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Archbishop Eamonn Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, issued the following statement:
I am saddened to hear of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. At this time of mourning in the Catholic Church worldwide, we remember his gentle soul in prayer, asking God, in his great mercy, to forgive his sins and human failings, while rewarding his generous service and complete devotion to the Gospel and the Church. On behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, and the faithful throughout Ireland, I express my sympathy to Pope Francis, to the family and caregivers of the Pope Emeritus, and to all those in his native Germany and around the world who loved him and will. to mourn our loss.
On that rainy day in April 2005, when the eyes of the whole world were on the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI described himself as “a simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard.” As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he had already worked closely with Pope Saint John Paul II during the last years of the Cold War and the beginning of the new millennium, the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the growing globalization and the emergence of international. Terrorist threat.
During his own papacy, Pope Benedict testified powerfully to faith, hope and love – the three theological virtues – about which he wrote deeply in his encyclical letters: God is love (Deus caritas est); Saved by Hope (Spe salvi); And, the light of faith (Lumen fidei) – which was completed by his successor Pope Francis.
On a personal level, it was his characteristic humility and gentleness that struck me when I first met him in 2009 while visiting the Vatican as Executive Secretary of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. I found him calm and soft-spoken, kind and personable, and genuinely interested in the Church in Ireland. After meeting the Irish bishops in Rome in February 2010, he issued a unique pastoral letter to Ireland’s Catholics expressing deep sorrow for those grievously wounded by abuse in the Church. The pope at the time called for urgent action to address the legacy of the abuse, which he said had “such tragic consequences in the lives of the victims and their families,” and which “obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution have been able to do.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s interest in Ireland goes back to his friendship with the late Archbishop Kevin McNamara of Dublin when they were both young professors of theology. Former students of the Irish Pontifical College, Rome, fondly remember his visit there as a cardinal. He often admired the enormous contribution of generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity, and he took a special interest in the work of early Celtic missionaries such as St Columbanus for the spread of the Gospel in Europe and for Europe’s spiritual identity. He followed closely, and prayerfully, the peace process as he grew up. Although unable to travel to Ireland for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in 2012, he gave the televised keynote address to the participating pilgrims. His message then, about the Church as a community, was recalled in 2007 in his amazing apostolic presentation, Sacramentum Caritatis, in which he speaks of the Holy Eucharist as a mystery to be believed, celebrated and lived at the same time.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a man of deep spirituality and prayer, an outstanding apostle of Christ. With his great listening ability combined with a personal and discreet charm, the late Pope managed to win people to Christ as he is: during the World Youth Day celebrations, he attracted the attention of thousands of young people; His encouragement of the World Days of the Sick, world meetings, and his many travels around the world and meetings with other religious leaders, politicians and academics. I remembered his commitment to service when I wrote in early January 2013 to accept his appointment as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, just one month before he humbly resigned the papacy due to ill health.
Pope Benedict XVI understood the need and potential of all people of good will to act for the realization of the common good. On social doctrine more broadly, he emphasized that charity must always be rooted in truth to be fruitful (see Caritas in Veritate). On the eve of his election to the Petrine office, the then Cardinal Ratzinger pointedly identified a tendency in society to deteriorate into a “dictatorship of relativism”. At the same time, his pontificate was characterized by a commitment to dialogue between faith and reason, between the Church and the modern world, and to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, as demonstrated in his significant apostolic journey to the United Kingdom in 2010.
During his lifetime, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was an outstanding teacher and academic whose impressive intellectual ability, combined with clarity of expression, made him one of the greatest theologians of our time. Despite all his intellectual abilities, he always made sure that faith was not reduced to academic hair-splitting; Religion, he emphasized, is not a lofty concept or an ethical ideal; This is an encounter with a man, Jesus Messiah. His personal writings about Jesus of Nazareth testify to his life’s work to share the good news of salvation that comes through Jesus. In many ways he was similar to the early bishops and doctors of the church, combining great doctrinal clarity with pastoral realism.
In 2011, when he announced the opening of the Universal Year of Faith, Pope Benedict spoke about how in baptism we enter the ‘door of faith’ and embark on a lifelong journey. Now that his earthly journey has ended, I pray that with God’s mercy the saints will go out to meet him and welcome him to his heavenly home. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Books of condolence are available at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, and at: www.catholicbishops.ie, Facebook page @IrishCatholicBishops, Twitter @CatholicBishops and on Instagram: CatholicBishops.