Apostolic Nuncio leads Memorial Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral for Pope Benedict XVI
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn came together last night to give thanks for the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at a special Requiem Mass.
In celebrating the Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Charles Balvo said Pope Benedict had been known for his ‘extreme cordiality’.
“What people said about the experience of knowing him was a person who was always very courteous, very gentle, very kind,” he said.
“On the occasions, I had the opportunity to meet the Holy Father, although the meetings were brief, the cordiality, the concern and the interest was always there.”
Pope Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger, led the Church from April 2005 until February 2013, becoming the first Pope in centuries to resign. He had earlier served as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the Vatican’s most influential departments, for more than two decades.
Pope Benedict died in Rome, where he had lived since his papal retirement, on Saturday evening, Australian time.
Fiona Pelosi, 24, said attending the Mass was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the life of a man who had made a significant contribution to the world.
“It shows the faith is alive and helps us savour the moments,” she said.
“It was beautiful to celebrate and to learn more about the life of Pope Benedict XVI. It was the first Mass I had been to with the Nuncio, and his beautiful homily really gave me perspective on all the amazing things Pope Benedict has done.”
Melywn Monteiro recalled the late Pope’s visit to Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008.
“That was probably the only time I was in such close proximity to him, so this was a chance to learn more about what he stood for, his connection to faith and his relationship with Jesus and God,” he said.
“It was lovely to celebrate the life of someone who has had such an impact on the church and pay my respects to the former Pope.”
Earlier this week, Archbishop Christopher Prowse said Benedict would be remembered as “a towering Catholic theologian and professor, a close collaborator of St (Pope) John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and for his resignation in 2013.”
“For Australians, we will recall with affection his hosting as Pope of World Youth Day in Sydney,” he said.
“On his election as Pope and especially his eloquent Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (2005), God is Love, indicated a tone that stressed simply the love, hope and joy of our encounter with Jesus.”
In an emotional tribute, Archbishop Balvo repeated the words Benedict himself had spoken at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
“We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house,” he said.
“That he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the mother of God, your mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of your son, Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Mass concluded in Canberra as, on the other side of the world, tens of thousands of mourners filled St Peter’s Square in the Vatican to attend Pope Benedict’s funeral service.