Benedict XVI Is a Friend of Jesus, Says Aide

Father Lombardi Reflects on Pope’s 60th Priestly Anniversary

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The 60 years of Benedict XVI’s priesthood can be summarized with the phrase “friend of Jesus,” says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reflected on the June 29 anniversary of the Pope’s priestly ordination in the most recent edition of the Vatican Television Center’s weekly program “Octava Dies.”

The spokesman said that what most impresses him about Benedict XVI “is his insistence on a personal relationship with Jesus.”

Father Lombardi said that for the Pontiff, the relationship between Jesus and the priest “becomes so intimate” to the point that the latter “can say ‘I’ in the very name of Jesus, repeating with efficacy his very words, as happens when he administers the sacrament of forgiveness and consecrates the Eucharist.”

The spokesman noted that since the day of Joseph Ratzinger’s ordination, he “has traveled a long way, going through and carrying out the various forms of ecclesial ministry,” including becoming Pope.

Father Lombardi said that the Pontiff’s journey has been a “patient” one, which the Holy Father himself describes as taking place “under the sun and rain, in serenity and in difficulty, in the various phases of purification and trial, as also in evangelical joy.”

“Sixty years of happiness, celebrated with simplicity and without triumphalism, because they are more a gift than a conquest,” continued the spokesman. “A gift for the Church and, in particular, for all priests, to whom Benedict XVI does not cease to remind, with his word and especially with his example, that the personal relationship with Jesus, friend, is the permanent source of vitality and fecundity of their call and their service.”

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