Ratzinger, Card.Gambetti: United Benedictine life and Franciscan spirituality


The Pope of Dialogue

“A Pope whom the whole world has known as a simple and humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard, who has carried the deposit of faith towards the ever new horizon of the life of the Church, who has amazed us with the gesture of extraordinary strength of his resignation, dies on the threshold of the new year and of a new time, leaving us in this epochal becoming the very rich legacy of his magisterium and his luminous testimony.A sublime example of Benedictine life which in the continuous search for possible dialogue and in humility, brings with it traces of Franciscan spirituality”.

Benedict XVI according to Cardinal Mauro Gambetti (57 years old), Friar Minor Conventual, former Custos of Sacred Convent of Assisi – degree in mechanical engineering before entering the seminary – created cardinal by Pope Francis, and by him appointed as his vicar general for the Vatican City, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and president of the Fabbrica di San Pietro. Among the cardinal’s memories, the first meeting he had with the Pope Emeritus, after the Consistory of Cardinals on 28 November 2020, when he had the sensation of finding himself “in front of a great man of God, with a sweet, intense gaze, ready to cross the threshold of infinite and without hiding the physical frailties due to the weight of the years, who greets the new cardinals with a serene smile, lively eyes and a word of attention for everyone”. The cardinal speaks with an understandable thread of emotion, having welcomed and blessed Ratzinger’s body in St. Peter’s as archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, where it will remain on public display until next Thursday’s funeral.

Cardinal Gambetti, what legacy does Benedict XVI leave to the Church?
“God is love. The foreword of the encyclical Deus caritas est has words of crystalline clarity, and reading it these days, with those essential, unequivocal words chosen by Benedict XVI so that what is truly important remains, helps us to collect the “legacy that this great Pope leaves us. “We have believed in the love of God”, he says, and this is the fundamental experience of life. Joseph Ratzinger made this constitutive faith the root from which he let himself be nourished by the love of God for life. He did it as a priest, as a theologian and professor, as Pope and as Pope emeritus, in the silent prayer of the last years of the cloister, and even today he continues to say to all of us: “God is love, believe it and let this love be the source that makes you live every day”. This creaturely radicality in the love of God has a matrix that is also Franciscan – it is enough to recall Joseph Ratzinger’s doctoral thesis on the Franciscan Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and his ology of history – and unites him deeply to Pope Francis and his Jesuit spirituality. Do you think that at the culmination of one of his most beautiful prayers, Saint Ignatius of Loyola comes to say: “Give me only your love and your grace; this is enough for me”.

Benedict XVI pope of dialogue and confrontation with the world. Exaggerated?
“Not at all, and the certificates of affection and esteem that come from the leaders of the earth, not only religious, testify to it. Benedict XVI was a Pope of dialogue, literally pontiff. Of intellectual dialogue always respectful of otherness. Kind, as he recalled Pope Francis. Of dialogue with other faiths and of dialogue between the different Christian traditions, always in search of the extra step towards communion. A Pope who has tried to animate a spirit of unity among the peoples of Europe, torn apart by rubble of the twentieth century and in the difficult search for a common conscience.In dialogue he tried to do for humanity and in the Church what the Samaritan man does in the Gospel: he spent time, that of an entire life, supporting their health and heal their wounds. He tried to be a balm, we could say with Etty Hillesum, knowing that even if it is not always possible to heal, it is to cure”.

The pedophilia scandal marked his Pontificate.
“Pedophilia is the most painful wound. For the victims first of all, who are violated twice when we don’t put them before any other consideration. It is also the bloodiest and most shameful wound in the body of the Church, and it is the evil that Benedict XVI intercepted and fought with an unprecedented decision and awareness. He took it upon himself and opened a path of truth which is the only way to heal. The chronicles did not recognize it, I think and I am confident that he will History, because the Church is moving forward on this path and must not stop”.

What relationship did Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have?
“I think it’s all in the hugs that we have seen in recent years and that have moved us. The esteem and devotion of Pope Francis on the one hand, the support and prayers that the Pope Emeritus has never let Francis miss from the praying heart of Mater Ecclesiae monastery on the other. I think a great awareness linked them in an ineffable way: of Peter’s mission in history, of responsibility towards the women and men of our time, of a personal response to that love of God which has both asked for everything and that for both of them it is all to give their lives for”. (Republic)

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Ratzinger, Card.Gambetti: United Benedictine life and Franciscan spirituality