Great excitement in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace after Pope Francis has met Benedict XVI on the occasion of the sixty-fifth anniversary of his priestly ordination. The heads of the dicasteries and a few other guests attended the celebration for Joseph Ratzinger. There was music – Pope Emeritus is fond of it – performed by the choir of the Sistine Chapel.
Besides Bergoglio, Ratzinger has received greetings from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal. Gerhard Mueller, and the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal. Angelo Sodano. Mueller gave Pope Emeritus a volume created for this occasion, which contains Ratzinger’s writings on priesthood. After having received this volume as a gift, Benedict XVI has given it as a gift to Pope Francis in his turn.
The “dedication” and “loyalty” that come from the place where Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lives “have a good impact on me, giving me and to the whole Church strength” the Pontiff explained. Speaking of the monastery in the Vatican gardens, where Ratzinger has retired in prayer, the Holy Father said: ” has willed that you, dear Brother, should reach a place one could truly call ‘Franciscan’, from which emanates a tranquillity, a peace, a strength, a confidence, a maturity, a faith, a dedication, and a fidelity that does so much good for me, and gives strength to me and to the whole Church.” Then, he concluded: “I want to conclude with a wish for you, but also for all of us and the whole Church: That you, Holiness, might continue to feel the hand of the merciful God who supports you; that you might continue to experience and witness to us the love of God; that, with Peter and Paul, you might continue to rejoice with great joy as you journey toward the goal of the faith.”
Bergoglio thanked Pope Emeritus for his “healthy and joyful sense of humor”. Ratzinger’s is “an entire life spent in priestly service and in the service of true theology, which you defined – not by chance- ‘the search of the beloved’.” The decisive element in our days of sunshine “or rain – he added – the only one which is at the basis of everything else, is the Lord’s true presence, desire for this presence, inner closeness to Him, love of Him, deep faith in Him and truly love Him in our faith.” This love, he continued, “really fills our hearts, this faith makes us walk safe and secure on the water, even in the midst of a storm, as Peter did; This love and faith enables us to look to the future without fear or nostalgia, but with joy, even now, when we are advanced in years.”