Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The Roman Catholic Church, with all its ramifications throughout the world, forms one vast organization under the control, and designed to serve the interests, of the papal see. Its millions of communicants, in every country on the globe, are instructed to hold themselves as bound in allegiance to the pope. Whatever their nationality or their government, they are to regard the authority of the church as above all other. Though they may take the oath pledging their loyalty to the state, yet back of this lies the vow of obedience to Rome, absolving them from every pledge inimical to her interests.
History testifies of her artful and persistent efforts to insinuate herself into the affairs of nations; and having gained a foothold, to further her own aims, even at the ruin of princes and people. GC 580.2 – GC 580.3
The Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, highlights the late Pope Emeritus’ ability to bring the Gospel of Christ to the modern world, citing his international bestselling “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy.
By Debora Donnini and Lisa Zengarini
A former Apostolic Nuncio and presently Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, Cardinal Fernando Filoni was appointed by Benedict XVI first as Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, and then as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (now incorporated into the Dicastery for Evangelization), and was created cardinal by him in 2012. He therefore got to know the late Pope Emeritus very well.
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In a personal recollection of the late Pontiff, the Italian-born Cardinal describes him as a “prophet of our time”. Speaking with Vatican News’ Debora Donnini, he explains that like the prophets in the Bible, he was able to speak to us about God in our present world.
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“It seems to me that Benedict XVI was indeed a prophet of our time, because he felt the vocation of bringing the world, which was rapidly changing and was forgetting God, to meet His presence.”
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.Isaiah:63:9
Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus to a “liquid” world
Cardinal Filoni recalls that Benedict XVI lived between two centuries – in the first of which he played a major role, first as an expert in the Second Vatican Council, then as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and close collaborator of Pope St. John Paul II.
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He also notes that Joseph Ratzinger had to face the reality of a changing world which, as he repeated several times, was becoming “liquid”, and losing its “spiritual, moral, ethical references”. He, therefore, felt “this vocation to speak to us about God in this world of ours.”
In a way, Cardinal Filoni goes on to explain, his great ecclesiological foundation was the Second Vatican Council: “Culturally he was already formed as a theologian, but he matured with the experience of the Council,” he says. “During his life God allowed this providential encounter between the richness of his intellectual, theological, moral gifts, and the richness of being a pastor.”
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Luke:2:34
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;Ephesians:3:14-16
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His masterpiece “Jesus of Nazareth”
Faith and reason were pivotal themes of his theological reflection, at the heart of which was the “encounter with the living Christ”, source and culmination of the Revelation, recounted masterfully in his three volumes on “Jesus of Nazareth”.
By His humanity, Christ touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man, He gave us an example of obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey. It was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, “I AM THAT I AM…. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:14. This was the pledge of Israel’s deliverance. So when He came “in the likeness of men,” He declared Himself the I AM. The Child of Bethlehem, the meek and lowly Saviour, is God “manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16. And to us He says: “I AM the Good Shepherd.” “I AM the living Bread.” “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matthew 28:18. I AM the assurance of every promise. I AM; be not afraid. “God with us” is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of our power to obey the law of heaven. DA 24.3
This theological masterpiece summarizing his thought, says Cardinal Filoni, is not a biography of Jesus, but rather “the encounter of today’s man with the Gospel and in the Gospel.”
“As in Jesus’ times, he wanted to proclaim the Kingdom of God. This was the aim of his theological vision throughout his 70 years of priestly, episcopal and papal life. Thus, the heart of that message was: ‘Jesus brings about the Kingdom of God’.”