Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Benedict XVI writes of his “pilgrimage towards Home” during “last, tiring” stage of his journey

Benedict XVI writes of his “pilgrimage towards Home” during “last, tiring” stage of his journey
Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the retired pope's residence after a consistory for the creation of five new cardinals at the Vatican June 28, 2017. (Credit: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano.) 

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI spoke about the “slow waning” of his physical strength and his “pilgrimage towards Home” in a letter sent to an Italian newspaper on Tuesday.
“It’s a great grace, in this last, at times tiring, stage of my journey, to be surrounded by a love and goodness that I could have never imagined,” Benedict wrote.
The letter, dated Feb. 5, was hand-delivered to Massimo Franco, a columnist for Corriere della Sera, the most prestigious newspaper in Italy, which takes the role of “newspaper of record” that the New York Times does in the United States.
The pope emeritus was responding to a question sent to him by the newspaper about his well-being, and Benedict said he “cannot but be thankful” to the readers and others for their concern.
Letter sent by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to an Italian newspaper this week. (Credit: Corriere della Sera.)
In his Feb. 7 column accompanying the letter, Franco noted that the signature of Benedict is “now tiny, almost shrinking along with his physical force.”
The newspaperman said the pope emeritus “accepts his fragility” and said Benedict’s words are “a thanksgiving, and at the same time, almost a farewell.”
The pope emeritus resigned in 2013, saying the physical demands were becoming too much for him, and said he would retire to a life of prayer in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican Gardens.
Benedict turned 90 last year, and according to those close to him, is no longer writing on theological topics.
On February 3, photos of Benedict meeting with visiting bishops from Russia were published on Facebook, the first new images of the pope emeritus since November 2017.
Benedict’s older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, turned 94 in January.


Anonymous said...

Impressive to make it to 90---is it the so-called "Mediterranean Diet"? Wine? Food with lots of tomatoes? Nothing like Italian cuisine!!!!

ByzRC said...

May God grant his servant, Benedict XVI, peace, health, happiness and, many years!

Marc said...

Usually opining about one's impending journey to heaven would be considered presumptuous. But in our time when every pope is a saint, it's just a statement of fact. Maybe we should all be made pope, however briefly, since merely being pope makes one a saint.

John Nolan said...

Marc, that's a trifle unfair. The humble pilgrim journeys in hope. I like the comment of the ailing Anton Bruckner, one of Benedict's favourite composers: 'I will present God with the score of my Te Deum, and hope He will judge me mercifully.'

Marc said...

John, my unfairness is somewhat mitigated in the face of such silly absurdity.

TJM said...


You need to unpack your statement. It makes no sense

rcg said...

I didn't see anything presumptuous. 'Home', not 'Heaven'. Different houses and all that. I think as long as it is not out right punishment then any glimpse of the Beatific Vision would be wonderful.

Joe Potillor said...

Prayers for him, May God grant him many blessed and happy years.

Marc said...

Perhaps you all missed the news that Paul VI is going to be canonized. That is the backdrop for my sarcasm, not Benedict's statements here, which are probably not actually his at all.

For what it's worth, I do find these statements to be presumptuous. But giving their author, whoever that may be, the benefit of the doubt, I also think that presumption is not intended: rather, they are more colloquial.

rcg said...

Marc, on that point, I agree. I can imagine how Saint Augustine would react to his canonization. Probably involve an ass whupping.

TJM said...

We are scraping the bottom of the barrel if we are canonizing the destroyer of the Liturgy. He's a saint I would never consider praying to for anything.

Anonymous said...

I believe Paul VI deserves to be canonized.
As a boy in the 1970s, an old and conservative Irish priest told me, shortly before he died, that as decades pass or maybe even centuries people will reflect on the near impossible task it would have been for any man to be pope 1963 to 1978.

Obviously, Paul was intelligent and cared for the Church, and I am sure after much prayer he spoke, wrote and acted as he did. How to maintain unity and reconcile staunch traditionalists and radicals and progressives and every faction in between! How easier it would have been to just assert his authority, lay down the law, repeating in slightly updated language the core teachings of popes from Pius IX to Pius XII. I think Paul VI was intelligent to know that was not possible in the 60s and 70s, as it was in past times, without something like schism, the departure of millions of Catholics.......well, I suppose that happened any way.....

I am too tired now to get out very old Church history texts and old essays. But I believe some where between 500 to 1000 there developed the belief in the Church that a man on becoming pope sort of automatically became a saint based on the merits of St Peter.

By the way, it was written by many that Paul VI was humourless. Not so, from what I have read lately. My favourite Paul VI joke is:
Once Paul was asked by a Vatican priest did he believe a radical theologian like Hans Kung would like to be pope? Paul with a straight face replied: No. I don't think he (Kung) would like to become pope. It would mean giving up his infallibility.


Marc said...

"I am too tired now to get out very old Church history texts and old essays. But I believe some where between 500 to 1000 there developed the belief in the Church that a man on becoming pope sort of automatically became a saint based on the merits of St Peter."

You are correct about your history. It was as ridiculous then as it is now. And it was clearly rejected by the church (since its existence is a common polemic against Roman Catholicism by the Orthodox). And even in Roman Catholicism, no pope between Pius V and Pius X was canonized. That's 500 years without sainted popes. If you're keen on history, you'd likely note that it is bizarre, then, that the last 100 years will have produced 4 (out of 8).

That is remarkable (absurdly so) even before one considers that these are mostly men who presided over both doctrinal scandals and widespread sexual abuse by the clergy.

ByzRC said...

Amen, TJM! Paul VI was in charge. He theoretically had veto authority over the disaster that was ultimately implemented. That aside, this insistence on canonizing VII (what else would you call what's happened?), to me, calls into question the integrity of the process itself.

Adam Michael said...

"I think Paul VI was intelligent to know that was not possible in the 60s and 70s, as it was in past times, without something like schism, the departure of millions of Catholics.......well, I suppose that happened any way....."

I agree with this, to some extent. By 1967 or 1968, this would have probably been the result. However, Paul VI could have avoided a schism and still behaved in continuity with his predecessors if he had begun his pontificate in 1963 (or even 1964) with such a traditional orientation. The Catholic Church, in many ways, expected traditional continuity at the beginning of Paul VI's reign, during which Vatican II was not yet viewed as a liberal fait accompli. Remember, the Second Vatican Council was immediately closed upon the death of John XXIII and was reconvened by Paul VI in September 1963. At this time there remained the technical possibility that the cardinal the media called the perfect combination of Pius XII's experience and John XXIII's spirit could have been more Pacelli than Roncalli, without any problems from the faithful and could have oriented the Second Vatican Council in a traditional manner (e.g. in September 1963, nearly half of the council schemata remained substantially that of the preparatory period).

TJM said...

IF Vatican II had occurred in the 1950s it probably would have worked out much better than it did. The timing couldn't have been worse

Anonymous said...

Saintliness is not limited to or controlled by centuries.

John Nolan said...

Montini was the obvious successor to Pius XII. However, Pius had, for reasons of his own, denied him the red hat and shunted him off to Milan.

Had he not done so, Montini would have been elected in 1958, and Vatican II would not have happened. He famously remarked when John XXIII summoned the Council: 'I wonder if the old boy knows what he's doing?'

He had the opportunity of not reconvening the Council in 1963 but this might have been seen as a snub to his predecessor, and Paul VI did have liberal reformist tendencies. In the event, the destructive effects of the Council overwhelmed him.

Without V2 we would have seen changes from the 1960s onwards but I suspect they would have been more gradual and less revolutionary. Paul might well have appointed Bugnini to the SCR but he would have been under a Cardinal Prefect who could have curbed his wilder excesses.

rcg said...

TJM. I respectfully disagree. The people who carried out the revolution were in place for many years as evidenced by their red hats. Their lieutenants were massed in the offices below them and the staff already in the seminaries and colleges. Popes in the 19th century railed against ‘modernism’ which was the prototype of progressivism. The offensive against the Liturgy and its artifacts was a non-sequitur that betrayed the true goal of the reformers. It seems that popes are not so much weak as afraid of being strong and appearing despotic. So when the Council went on a tangent the Popes were reluctant to correct or end it.

TJM said...


The Zeitgeist of the 1950s was conformity, not revolution. I lived then, did you?

rcg said...

TJM, I was merely a gleam.

I am not disputing that the laity were conforming to what we percieve as the norms of the Church. What I disagree with is the idea that that same norm was loved by the senior clergy and administration of the Vatican. They came running out of the Conclave with ideas that are difficult, at least, to find in the documents. Yet it was implemented with a ubiquitous urgency that is amazing. I recall a nun perching on a stool in the Sanctuary, playing her guitar and teaching about the changes coming. I nervously waited for Father to come storming over and move her out. He just left and let her do her thing. Perhaps it was our obedience that did us in.

Henry said...

"Perhaps you all missed the news that Paul VI is going to be canonized."

My view of Paul VI is perhaps a bit more favorable than that of a Pennsylvania friend (and serious Catholic) whose reaction to this news was "If Paul VI is in heaven, then I am in Malta."

Anonymous said...

Re reading a good biography of Paul VI.
On page 1 this caught my eye:
Vatican II a "pastoral council"...but one cannot make pastoral statements except on the basis of doctrine.
Later in the Introduction, the author makes clear that during the pontificate of JP II that while with words Paul VI was praised and at times quoted with respect......if you leave the rhetoric aside JP II's actions said clearly he considered Paul VI to have been mistaken on priestly identity, religous life, dangerous theologians, episcopal collegiality, the Ostpolitik and Vatican II and more....The Extraordinary Synod of 1985, with its abandonment of "the People of God" as the key concept in understanding the Church and its "pessimistic" re-editing of "the signs of the times", is further evidence of the dismantling of the heritage of Paul VI.

How true that history is the teacher of life!

Imagine a 100 years from now the following are questions in a first year Church History course exam for those studying for a degree in theology:

"To what extent and in what ways was the papacy of Francis I (2013-2023) an aberration, a departure from what was normal, usual and expected, in the 2100 year history of the Catholic Church?"

"List and discuss several of the many statements and actions of both Pius XIII (2023-2038) and Paul VII (2038-2061) that either indicated or at least strongly implied a near complete repudiation of the main policies of Francis I."


TJM said...


I don't dispute there were evil, clerics, like Bugnini, waiting in the wings to destroy the Liturgy and the Church. However, Bugnini would have been more constrained by the 1950s adherence to conformity, than he was in the turbulence of the revolutionary 1960s. I think if the Council had been held in the 1950s, the liturgical reforms would have been quite modest in comparison to what happened in the 1960s. For example, the Ordinary would have likely remained in Latin, but the other prayers might have been permitted to be said in the vernacular. Remember, Mediator Dei only came out in 1947 and Pius XII held that Latin must be maintained in public worship. Also, I think religious life "reforms" would have been much more modest, such that historic habits of religious might have been updated to make them more suitable to their day to day work, but distinct religious dress would not have been abandoned in toto nor would common living and prayer life been abandoned.

Ironically, the drivers of the "reforms" in the 1960s were not the laity, but rather a small number of clerics, aided and abetted by a corrupt media

Anonymous said...

Hans Kung will turn 90 next week.
His 1971 book: Infallible? An Inquiry, rejected the doctrine of papal infallibility; but it was not till 1979 that Kung lost his license to teach in a Catholic institution.

What does it say that Kung was encouraged by Francis' recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia? He stated too "Francis repeatedly quotes statements made in the episcopal synod or from national bishops' conferences.......Francis does not want to be the sole spokesman of the Church."

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, and others, I can recommend Peter Hebblethwaite's "Paul VI, the First Modern Pope". This book was given to me by a priest/historian when I was studying Church History for a theology degree.

If Paul VI does not deserve to be canonized he at least deserves some acknowledgment for having to preside over a Council he himself would never have summoned. It must surely be a VERY great historical "what could have been" had he been elected pope in 1958, which was likely had he been made a cardinal after being "kicked upstairs" to Milan, and Vatican II 1962 to 1965 never happened as it did !! He was first to be made cardinal by Pope John.

The evening of the day in 1959 the Council was announced, Montini told Fr Bevilacqua "This holy old boy does not realize what a hornet's nest he's stirring up !"

Montini did not share Pope John's optimism about modern times and felt no great need to open up and dialogue with the world as it was c. 1960.

On 22 Dec 1959 Montini actually wrote to pope John in the dark hues of any conservative Italian bishop flaying the modern world:

"The ranks of the enemies of God wax ever stronger; laicism and anti-clericalism are back imperiously in fashion; license in customs, in the press and especially in the theatre and cinema (spettacoli) is widespread, abusive and unbridled: and ideas and trends of dubious value trouble and divide the ranks of those who bear the name Christian."

Montini saw most modern theology and much modern thought as ideas and trends of dubious value !

The historian Nello Vian in 1961 wrote of Montini's pessimism. He seemed to be experiencing a painful, intense suffering over the state of the Church and the world, Vian recorded. Montini claimed his suffering was caused by laymen (and some clerics too) being so rebellious and disobedient to the Church and he felt great bitterness that people hostile to the Church were in a position to attack her.