Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI the 265th Pope and the first German bishop of Rome in nearly 500 years.
Since then, the Holy Father has written three encyclicals and been on 18 Pastoral visits, including the very special one to the UK in September of last year.
His teaching has included: 5 Apostolic Constitutions – the latest of which was Anglicanorum Coetibus which established the Ordinariate – 2 Post Synodal Exhortations, 21 Apostolic Letters and much more by way of his audiences, speeches and addresses, as well his as yet unfinished trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth. CTS, as Publishers to the Holy See, has been pleased to publish all his official documents.
One of the Pope’s titles is “Servant of the servants of God” and Joseph Ratzinger has fulfilled that faithfully since he stepped out onto the balcony of the Apostolic Palace in 2005 and declared himself a “Humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard.”
He inherited a Papacy that had been brought back to its pastoral and evangelical roots by his soon-to-be-blessed predecessor John Paul II and has continued in that vein. When he came to Britain last year, his humility was striking and though he is clearly a little shy, he has spent the last six years working tirelessly to strengthen his brothers (Mark 22:32)
His first encyclical Deus Caritas Est surprised many, especially outside the Church, he wrote, right at the beginning of the letter:
“I wanted here—at the beginning of my Pontificate—to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love.” (§1)
And that, in many forms, is what he has been doing ever since. Some saw him as a “conservative” but political labels do not fit when analysing or trying to understand a Pope. This one is a teacher who, over 84 years, has never stopped learning from his “One Teacher, the Christ” (Matthew 23:10).
Certainly it has been anything but an uneventful six years, neither can it be said that everything has gone smoothly – the controversy surrounding the Regensburg Address and the part of Light of the World about male prostitutes and the use of condoms spring to mind – but on this anniversary we pray especially for Pope Benedict and thank God for these years of his ministry, a ministry that has stressed the merciful love of the Lord, asking God and His mother Mary – just as Benedict XVI did right at the beginning of his pontificate – to be with him.
For a look at some of Benedict XVI’s other addresses as Pope, including on his trip to Turkey, Spain and Fatima, Angola and Cameroon, click here.
Of related interest: