The Legacies of Benedict XVI

The Legacies of Benedict XVI

‘Jesus, I love you.’ These were the final words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, according to his secretary of many years, Archbishop George Ganswein. For a Church that treats sacredly the hour (moment) of an individual’s death, this is significant and will be referenced for a long time to come.

To cling desperately to life in the face of death is a human instinct. In contrast, lovingly clinging to Jesus, the resurrection, and the life (John 11:25), is an act of faith and hope. Far from surprising, it is wonderful that a man who dedicated his entire adult life in service to the Church would breathe these words of faith shortly before breathing his last.

Pope Benedict XVI was pope for about nine years and spent the final nine years of his life as Pope emeritus. In his eight years as pope, he did the usual things that popes before him did and many unique things. He did so much in eight years that no single article can ever pretend to exhaust.

The Legacies of Benedict XVI
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

    However, while enumerating Benedict’s actions and achievements might be rather exhaustive, a few important points will forever define his eight-year papacy.

    Pope Benedict XVI on relativism

    First, and perhaps most importantly, is his moral objection to relativism. More than anything else, this has earned him the identity of a very conservative theologian and pastor. It even made it impossible for many people to notice the progressive side of the now-deceased pope.

    The point is only a few people are even aware that before and during the Second Vatican Council, which he attended as an expert theologian, Pope Benedict was considered very progressive by himself and others.

    The Legacies of Benedict XVI
      Photo Grid showing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with his longtime Secretary; Archbishop George Ganswein

      Perhaps it is more accurate to see Pope Benedict’s constant insistence on the reality of objective Truth not as an attack on the progression of ideas and human knowledge in general but as a crucial defense of moral and doctrinal Truth against what he decried as the dictatorship of relativism. According to him, this pretentious dictatorship is the core challenge facing the Church and humanity.

      In Caritas in Veritate, the third and final encyclical he published before retiring, he reminded us that God alone is absolute Truth and the origin of every Truth. “Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things.”

      He also emphasized the intimate relationship between Truth and charity. “Truth needs to be sought, found, and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed, and practiced in the light of Truth.”

      Benedict XVI on Secularism

      While bemoaning moral relativism, Benedict XVI was also concerned about the growing secularization of the Western World. Advocating a return to Christian values was his contribution to combating secularism.

      His choice of the name Benedict was in honour of both Benedict XV, the pope during World War I, and Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life, according to Benedict XVI, “evokes the Christian roots of Europe.”

      However, this burning desire to revive religious piety in Europe must not be construed as implying that the former pope was only concerned with the West. His love and concern for Africa and other parts of the world were never in doubt.

      During his papacy, Benedict visited Africa twice. In 2009, he visited Cameroon and Angola, and in 2011, after the Second Synod of African Bishops in Rome, he came to the Benin Republic to present the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

      While he never missed an opportunity to speak about Africa’s numerous socio-political challenges, he equally spoke glowingly about the numerous gifts and prospects of the continent. He famously described Africa as “the spiritual lung for a humanity that seems to be in the crisis of faith.”

      I want to conclude by highlighting what I think was Pope Benedict XVI’s most important legacy. Even those who disagreed with his theological emphasis or leadership style could not deny his deep and genuine holiness.

      Read Also: Rich Clergy, Poor people

      He was a man deeply rooted in Christ. He was a man who truly believed in Christ and the Church. Like St. Augustine of Hippo, his mentor, Benedict believed that “Christ is not valued at all unless he is valued above all.”

      May the soul of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) rest in peace.

      CREDIT: Facebook / William Ikhianosimhe Orbih

       

      Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of William Ikhianosimhe Orbih and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Satellite. The World Satellite will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”

       

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