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Pope Praises a Model for Pastors and Civil Leaders

Highlights Life of St. Gregory the Great

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2006 ( Benedict XVI pointed to Pope Gregory the Great as a model for pastors of the Church and civil authorities for having understood power as service.

Benedict XVI dedicated his traditional address at today’s Angelus to recall the figure of this Doctor of the Church, who died in 604, and who is remembered today by the Roman liturgical calendar.

Before being Bishop of Rome, Gregory held the highest civil office, “prefect of the city,” when he was only 30 years old, the German Pope noted. Later, Gregory withdrew from public life to embrace the monastic life, according to the Rule of St. Benedict.

Benedict XVI was moved by the legacy of Pope Gregory, the first monk to be named Successor of the Apostle Peter.

Following the death of Pope Pelagius II from a plague epidemic, Gregory was elected the Supreme Pontiff.

Benedict XVI presented “his singular figure, I would say almost unique” as “an example that must be presented both to pastors of the Church as well as public administrators.”

The Holy Father said of Gregory: “He tried in every way to avoid the appointment, but in the end had to give in and, leaving the cloister with regret, dedicated himself to the community, aware that he was doing his duty and that he was a simple ‘servant of the servants of God.'”

A balance

“The life of the pastor of souls must be a balanced synthesis between contemplation and action, animated by love which reaches the loftiest heights when it bends down with mercy to the profound ills of others,” Benedict XVI said, quoting St. Gregory.

“The ability to bend down to the misery of others is the measure of the force of one’s self-giving to others,” the Pope said, further quoting from the saint. Those words were echoed by the Second Vatican Council to describe the ideal image of modern-day pastors.

Benedict XVI spent this weekend with former students in a symposium on “evolution and creation,” which continues a tradition that Joseph Ratzinger initiated on being elected archbishop of Munich.

Next Saturday the Holy Father will travel to his native Bavaria in Germany.

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