Ratzinger was the living example of the rediscovered and renewed hope of the healing of the fractures that are annihilating humanity even in its apparent distance from the world. It is probable that his fragility, with simplicity and courage confessed, was nothing at the time other than the seal of the Holy Spirit on his pontifical dignity which was no longer sufficient in the circumstances of the time. Gennaro Malgieri’s comment
Christianity is in mourning. And not just Christianity. The death of Pope Benedict XVI has brought down on humanity, not unlike when he flew to the house of Father St. John Paul II, a blanket of profound sadness. His departure marks the end of a magisterium lived under the banner of the conjugation of reason with faith, something that we will deeply miss and will exacerbate conflicts in the Catholic Church in a particular way, but also between men of good will who seek to reconcile the two aspects within the framework of a providential design.
The ten-year solitude spent by Pope Ratzinger, praying and studying, but above all supporting the universal Church, ended on the last day of this dramatic year in which he followed the disintegration of the world, between wars and pandemics, rampant poverty and widespread intolerance , but above all with apprehension he followed and condemned, with his many theological and spiritual lessons, the prevailing moral and cultural relativism which was his constant worry. And furthermore, always conspicuously withdrawn, he did not fail to send thoughts of him to the four corners of the earth to unreservedly stigmatize the sin of pedophilia in the ecclesiastical world, the true smoke of Satan which has penetrated as far as the Apostolic Palaces.
The last ten years of Pope Benedict have perhaps been, paradoxically, the most productive from the point of view of the emanation of his spirituality that reached everywhere and matured in the Monastery at the top of the Vatican Hill. Not only the greatest contemporary religious authority, but in a certain sense a discreet yet constantly present guide in the life of catholicity, the Pontiff who maintained that God was love bound Christian believers to those who were not Christians, following the lesson of his Polish Predecessor, in order to make sense of the unfolding of understanding between peoples, civilizations, religions. And to this end he continued Pope Wojtyla’s apostolate, demanding above all a new evangelization of Europe and the West from which to move in order to give tangible meaning to the mission of the Church of Christ.
When he announced his resignation from the Petrina Chair, we had the feeling that the human had broken into the divine. A mythical event. Hesiod or Homeric. Marvelous, nonetheless. The fragility of man in the presence of the God who created him. Like a pagan flash in the heart of Christianity. As proof, after the millennia crumbled, that the temporary being can present itself to the eternal Being with the misery of him who, when he admits it and claims it, cloaks himself in royalty.
So the “cleric” Joseph Ratzinger he proposed himself before the Holy Spirit not to challenge him, but to testify to an infinite love having received from him the mandate to govern and govern the universal Church as Supreme Pontiff who took the name of Benedict to mark, like all his two hundred and sixty-four predecessors , the detachment from the Earth while remaining on the Earth to guide the Father’s flock.
The ways of Providence are inscrutable, as we have been told for two thousand years now and even before the so-called historical times. And, although nothing is precluded on those paths, no one had imagined that a man of very high spiritual rank could forgive what God had entrusted to him to administer it in his name. Infallible, like all Popes, just as much as he reminded us Joseph de Maistre in his sparkling Du Pape, while the effects of the greatest revolt against the Spirit and natural law raged, the Vicar of Christ abandoned his “kingdom”, not out of pride, but as an extreme act of humility, and decided to return to being a simple man of the Church, a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, aware of the weakening of his strength. Isn’t there perhaps an immense greatness in this decision which implies refuge in silence and prayer, presuppositions for touching the hand of God even before the materiality of the body dissolves in the purity of the spirit?
Gestures are more sacred than words, unless they become flesh. Et Verbum caro factum est. Benedict’s gestures and words were, then and in the following ten years, spent in the light of solitude, transfigurations of human limits in proximity to tangible religiosity, of which humanity, subjugated by relativistic absolutism and technological Prometheism, he desperately needs to continue living. The sign that the Pope leaves, first by abandoning the Throne of Peter and then by caressing the hand of the Father as the last act of his human life, is therefore not the last cry of a desperate dying hermit, but the vital example of a Pilgrim in the desert of modernity where his mission germinates with the legacy of prayer and his masterful lesson as an authentic doctor of the Church, probably among the greatest – hoping that such will be proclaimed as soon as possible – after the body has been disintegrating, hidden in the eyes of the world: a legacy that is a powerful warning for a new evangelization.
Now that he is gone, everything appears clear: this was the mission of the German Joseph Ratzinger, who came to sit on the Petrine Throne from Luther’s land. I think, therefore, that it could only end with a “new beginning”, the one that launched, by the most misunderstood, in February 2013 beyond the obstacles of rituals and formalisms: therefore no longer reigning Pontiff, but re-founder of the universal Church, a ministry that perhaps needed the detachment to be completed.
The “cleric” Ratzinger was the living example of the rediscovered and renewed hope of the healing of the fractures that are annihilating humanity even in its apparent distance from the world. It is probable that his fragility, with simplicity and courage confessed, was nothing at the time other than the seal of the Holy Spirit on his pontifical dignity which was no longer sufficient in the circumstances of the time.
The breath that in 2005 prompted the cardinal electors in the Sistine Chapel to look to his brother Ratzinger as Peter’s successor, now, after the long solitude and agony during which he prepared to reach the Heavenly Kingdom, blows much stronger in the recognize to the humanity of believers and non-believers how a man chosen to embody the will of God with his magisterium can become a witness of Transcendence. Thus, Benedict XVI appears to us today and, leaving this world, calls us back to a primordial Christianity, a source of renewal and recognition of the Grace to which he never tired of calling us back.