Pope Francis Voices Gratitude for Witness of ‘Noble’ Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - SEPTEMBER 28: Pope Francis (R) greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI a

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis praised his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, following the latter’s death Saturday, calling him a “kind” and “noble” person.

We are moved as we recall Benedict “as such a noble person, so kind,” the pontiff said during the celebration of first vespers in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

“And we feel such gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his recollected life,” Francis continued.

“Only God knows the value and the power of his intercession, of the sacrifices he offered for the good of the Church,” he added.

Pope Francis’ words of praise for the deceased Pope Benedict were echoed by encomium throughout the Catholic world and beyond.

Papal biographer Peter Seewald said he would miss Benedict “terribly,” referring to him as a “saint” and a “genius” and crediting him with bringing him back to the Catholic Church after years away.

“I found his courage to stand up for his convictions particularly impressive,” Seewald said. “Even at the cost of popularity. And to resist all attempts to turn the message of Christ into a religion in line with the needs of ‘civil society.’”

Iraqi Cardinal Louis Sako called Benedict a “great theologian” and a “prophet” in reforming relations with Islam, as well as a “man of God” with a “luminous countenance.”

In this Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 photo, Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq. The head of Iraq’s Chaldean Church says that battling extremist “mentality” is key to peaceful coexistence among Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups as the nation emerges from more than three years of war with the Islamic State group.(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

In this Monday, December 18, 2017, photo, Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

For his part, Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias said that the death of Benedict XVI is “a very great loss for the universal Church but also a real loss for the Asian churches.”

“Benedict XVI was a great support for the Church in Asia and for the Indian Church in particular,” Cardinal Gracias said.

Renowned English theologian Father Vincent Twomey said it will come as no surprise if Benedict XVI is declared a Doctor of the Church, adding that he will be “regarded as one the great Popes in the history of the Church.”

“Apart from being a brilliant lecturer and inspirational homilist, he remained all his life basically a fine scholar and yet a simple priest with a truly pastoral heart,” Father Twomey declared.

Benedict’s theology “is only now being discovered by the younger generations of scholars,” the priest stated. “His collected writings cover 16 volumes, averaging some 1,000 pages each, on every conceivable topic in theology, philosophy, science, literature, and politics.”

“Future generations of all walks of life will find inspiration in his pastoral writings as Pope, especially his encyclicals on love and hope, which rank as among the most outstanding ever to come from the pen of a Pope,” he added.


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