By Kaelanne Jordan
The Archdiocese of Port of Spain celebrated a Memorial Mass, Thursday, January 5, for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 95, who passed away on New Year’s Eve and was buried in Rome, January 5.
In homage to Pope Benedict, a “humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard,” Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Santiago de Wit Guzmán highlighted that Pope Benedict resigned from his ministry as successor of Peter in a “surprising and unexpected” way.
Surprising, Archbishop de Wit Guzmán explained, because in this world, no one renounces their legitimately obtained authority on their own initiative.
Unexpected, because “no one had done it in the Church in the last 600 years”.
The Nuncio opined that Pope Benedict, at the age of 85, understood that he did not have the necessary energy to exercise the responsibility entrusted to him. He knew how to step aside, to let someone else assume that ministry to face the challenges that the Catholic Church must face in today’s world.
“The importance of Peter’s ministry in the Church today, his (Pope Benedict) deep love for Her, and the conviction that by renouncing the papacy he fulfilled the will of God, continue to remind us that the will to serve is the one that best explains the exercise of authority in this world, and that there is no greater service, and truer humility, than to yield the initiative to those who are most qualified for it,” Archbishop de Wit Guzmán said.
He told the faithful gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that it is people like Pope Benedict who, with the testimony of their lives, remind us that our Redeemer lives, and one day we will fully know the promised salvation, that our eyes will see the Lord face to face.
Pope Benedict XVI was always concerned about the rise of moral relativism, “which greatly characterises the mentality of our time”. According to the Nuncio, the absence of clear values, recognised or accepted by the majority, undermines our life in common, progressively deteriorating the fundamental institutions on which we have built our culture and society.
“It has also negatively influenced our Christian communities, eroding the perception of our Christian identity, often compromising the genuine and healthy interpretation of the essential values of the Gospel,” said the Nuncio.
He commented that in dialogue with the world, Pope Benedict vindicated the need for encounter and constructive dialogue, and the need to expand the limits of reason that make it possible to agree on values, to overcome the limits of a positivism that does not explain so much and to reach agreements among all to affirm what is necessary to us.
“….dialogue that is the responsibility of all social actors, and that urgently needs to be addressed,” Archbishop de Wit Guzmán said.
He added that Pope Benedict himself reminds us that we Christians have another measure before which to set ourselves: the Son of God, the True Man, of whom in these days of Christmas, we contemplate the “marvellous and unlooked” for mystery of His incarnation.
Archbishop de Wit Guzmán underscored that Pope Benedict XVI also insisted on the need for a personal encounter with the Risen One not only for faith to emerge, but also for it to take root deep within us, and to illuminate all areas of our existence.
The Archbishop prayed that the peace of God and mercy welcome Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI into His bosom, that the fruitful and farsighted ministry that the Lord has bequeathed in his person continue to illuminate the path of the Church in this world, and that those who have been strengthened by the example of his life and his teaching share with him the joy of the promised Kingdom.
The Memorial Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Jason Gordon, Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP and other clergy. In attendance were members of the diplomatic corps.