“Thank you above all to you, Holy Father: Your kindness, from the first moment of the election, in every moment of my life here, really strikes me, is a source of real inspiration for me,” Pope Emeritus Benedict said to Pope Francis today as the two celebrated the Emeritus Pope’s anniversary of ordination.
At the end of the ceremony today in celebration of Benedict XVI’s 65th anniversary of priesthood, the Emeritus Pope expressed these words of gratitude to his successor, along with others to those present.
He spoke without a script, directing himself simply to the Holy Father and his brother cardinals. Benedict XVI is 89 years old. He was ordained on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, June 29, in 1951.
The German Pope Emeritus began by recalling that 65 years ago, a brother ordained with him decided to write on the holy card of remembrance of the first Mass, except for the name and date, only one word in Greek: “Efharistomen (‘thanksgiving’)”
Benedict explained that he was convinced that this word, in its many dimensions, was all that could be said in that moment, for“‘Efharistomen’ says a human thank you, thank you to all.”
Benedict immediately thanked Pope Francis, saying he thanks him most for his kindness. “More than in the Vatican Gardens, with their beauty, your goodness is the place where I dwell: I feel protected,” he said.
Referring to Francis’ address to him, he noted,”Thank you also for the word of gratitude, for everything.” Benedict also expressed his hope that Francis “can go forward with all of us on this way of Divine Mercy, showing Jesus’ way.”
Pope Benedict also thanked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who also addressed him at the celebration.
“Thank you, Cardinal Müller, for the work you do for the presentation of my texts on the priesthood, in which I also seek to help brothers to enter always again in the mystery that the Lord gives us in our hands.”
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who was curator of Ratzinger’s opera omnia, wrote the introduction of a volume that collects 43 of Ratzinger’s homilies, for the commemoration of this anniversary, which was given to the Pope Emeritus.
Pope Francis wrote the preface for this work being published in six languages. In Italy, it is being published by Cantagalli and in the United States, by Ignatius Press.
The Greek word, Benedict went on to explain, suggests “not only human thanksgiving, but naturally hints at the more profound word that is hidden, which appears in the liturgy, in the Scriptures.” It also, he explained, “brings us back to that reality of thanksgiving, to that new dimension that Christ has given it.”
“He has transformed the Cross, suffering, all the evil of the world into thanksgiving, and so into blessing. And thus, He has fundamentally transubstantiated life and the world, and has given us, and gives us today the Bread of true life, which overcomes the world thanks to the strength of his love.”
Benedict XVI concluded his remarks, again blessing and thanking everyone, especially Pope Francis.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Benedict XVI’s Words: https://zenit.org/articles/benedict-xvis-words-of-gratitude/