Benedict XVI has just turned 88 and celebrates his 10th anniversary since his election to Pope at St.Peter’s in the Vatican. In withdrawing from the world, he had announced he would spend the rest of his life in silence and solitude. In fact his very presence within the Vatican can be perceived and his steps riverberate strongly within those walls, so much so that there are those who would desire to see him return to govern the church, placing him in op position to Pope Francis. Fantasies that often turn into legends in a bid to drag Ratzinger into the usual whirl of ecclesiastical controversies.
But the great theologian Pope will be mainly remembered for two large passages of his pontificate; the first was at the very beginning when he gave battle to the “dictatorship of relativism”, which greatly irritated the whole system of religious syncretism extended to globalisation in other words the destruction of Catholicism. That stance, so strong against the powers became the beginning of a ministry, to break down in all directions. And so it happened with an unprecedented attack that the former prefect of the Congregation of the Faith has had to face.
It was during the Homily of the ‘Missa pro eligendo Romano Pontifice,’ on the morning of April 18, 2005 for the rite of opening of the Conclave, where he gave a speech and became famous for his “programme of pontificate”. It denounced the danger of the “dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and leaves as a last measure only the ‘self’ and its desires. History has very clearly-stated-that majorities can be wrong. The true rationality is not guaranteed by the consensus of a large number, but only by the transparency in human reason as to the creative reason and from the common source of our rationality “. The world and contemporary culture no longer pose themselves the objective in the “search for good, but power, or rather the balance of powers.” At the root of this trend, there is ethical relativism, in which some see it as one of the main conditions of democracy, because relativism would guarantee tolerance and mutual respect for people. But if that were the case, the majority of a time would become the latest source of rights “. “It’s necessary – specified Ratzinger-to rediscover the existence of human and moral and native values, resulting from the very truth of the human being and express and protect the dignity of the person: values that no individual, no majority and neither state can ever create, modify or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect and promote.”
Benedict XVI’s spirituality was influenced from liturgical movement in Germany, and favoured largely by the Benedictines to whom he has always had a great devotion. The real struggle in favour of the liturgy was made in an attempt to overcome the ideological opposition between old and new, which dominated and hindered the receipt and the application of Vatican Council II. A great theme dear to Ratzinger’s theological concerns is the belief that “the Eucharist is more of a fraternal banquet”. Primarily, it is the sacrifice of the Church where the Lord prays with his people and He gives Himself to them. Therefore, it is always useful to take part,, even those who cannot receive communion, as the divorcees and remarried Catholics.
Pope Ratzinger is the greatest living theologian and his trilogy on Jesus tried to rediscover faith beginning from the roots, from the basics; explaining that in Christian perspective, first comes faith and moarlity, although pastoral pastoral practice sometimes appears to suggest otherwise.The Foundation of Christianity is the proclamation of the resurrection of Christ.
He also expressed particular commitment and determination in inter-religious dialogue. Several times he has referred to the Declaration “Nostra Aetate”, stating “the attitude of the Church towards non-Christian religions”, reaffirming the special relationship that Christians have with Jews, the esteem toward Muslims and members of other religions, confirming, finally, “the spirit of universal fraternity that bans any discrimination or religious persecution”.
The relationship between faith and reason, which can only work double entendre’, claimed that the “distortions of religion-as sectarianism and fundamentalism-emerge when not enough attention has been placed to the structuring and purifying role of reason within the religion.” On the other hand “without the corrective provided by religion even reason can fall prey to distortions, such as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied partially, which will no fully take into account dignity of the human person”.
In his message on World Peace Day in 2012, he wrote that “peace is not a dream, it is not a utopia: it is feasible. Our eyes must see deeper, beneath the surface of appearances and phenomena, see a positive reality that exists in souls, because every man is created in the image of God “. Reaffirming also the principles in defense of life and family founded on marriage, he said: “these principles are not truths of faith, or are just a derivation of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, recognizable by reason, and therefore they are common to all mankind. The action of the Church in promoting them therefore does ot have a confessional character, but is addressed to all people, regardless of their religious belonging. This action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or poorly understood, because they constitute an offence against the truth of the human individual, a grave wound inflicted to justice and peace. ”
One of the key hubs of the pontificate of Benedict XVI was also the ecumenical dialogue, particularly with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the entire Orthodox Church. In addition to numerous Apostolic visits to Italy his Holiness has travelled to 21 countries from all continents: thrice to Germany and Spain. Followed by Poland, Turkey, Austria, France, Malta, Czech Republic, Portugal, Cyprus,the United Kingdom, Croatia and San Marino. Plus the inter-continental journeys to Brazil, United States, Mexico, Cuba, Australia, Africa, Lebanon and the Holy land.
In the consistory of February 11, 2013, the meek Pope shocked the world by relinquishing “the Ministry of Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter”. Retreating into silence with a great revolutionary gesture of humility and courage, openin the way for the election of the new Pope, Francis. A slap in the face to those who, superficially dipict him as a conservative. He was the eighth Pope in church history to forgo the Petrine ministry, if we consider only the Popes Clement, Pontian, Silverio, Benedict IX, Gregory VI, Celestine V and Pope Gregory XII, we have such historical sources. A few days ago his personal Secretary, monsignor George Gaenswein, in an interview to Retequattro, said that Ratzinger is very alert, has a strong memory and is still devoted to his beloved studies. In fact many still seek him and many clerics ask for advice. The Pope Emeritus never exhibits himself with his kind reception, he grants. His deep intelligence and great humility never ends amazing us.
Translation provided by Marina Stronati