A homily of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, given last Sunday at Mass for his former students, has been described as having an “extraordinary freshness and spiritual joy”.
Every year Benedict XVI’s alumni, known as the “Schülerkreis”, meet in Rome. This year was the 10th annual summer meeting in the Eternal City, which concluded last Sunday in Castel Gandolfo.
The Pope Emeritus celebrated the Mass with about 30 others in the Vatican’s German cemetery, Campo Santo Teutonico, reported Avvenire.
The Circle is made up of former doctoral and post-doctoral students of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, most of whom now are distinguished professors. Each year they meet with their former professor to discuss and study theological issues.
“From the start, Pope Benedict felt that the Schülerkreis was ‘his’ family,” said Father Stephan Horn, director of Schülerkreis, adding: “And now this family is expanding,” referring to the fact that the old and new Schulerkreis are intergrating.
“Of course, it’s been another year,” he added, “but the freshness and spiritual joy that he has demonstrated [in his homily] was extraordinary.”
The priest added: “I had the impression that the new Schülerkreis, along with the old, intend to feel like a family.”
Yet, he lamented that a number of important personalities of the old Schülerkreis who could not be present, including Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna, and others, for health reasons.
Although next year’s meeting’s theme is undecided, Fr. Horn said he would suggest two possibilities. One is ” How to Speak of God today?” and the other is on gender.
Addressing the gender issue, he said objectivity is required in order for the arguments to be presented and evaluated in the clearest way possible.
The Schülerkreis director also said of this year’s meeting: “First of all, let me say that there is one thing that we still regret and that is that the Holy Father was not able to be present at the theological discussions.” This element, he said, was “missing.”
Cardinal Koch, the new theological and spiritual guide of the Schülerkreis, was present. “We had a very good speaker, Professor Karl-Heinz Menke, who spoke about the theology of the cross,” Fr. Horn added. “[He spoke] on one hand of the Cross as the self-revelation of God, and on the other hand, the event of the Cross as the center of world history, as important for every man.”
With its first meeting in 1978, the Schuelerkreis has never been interrupted, and has been followed by the creation of the Ratzinger Foundation and Ratzinger Prize.