Canadian Catholic leaders Pay Tribute to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Tributes for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have poured in from leaders of the Canadian Catholic community following the former pontiff’s passing on December 31 at his residence at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.

Newsroom (03/01/2023 10:05 PM, Gaudium Press)  Cardinal Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto, hailed the former pope as a model of inspiring discipleship and theological wisdom.

“Throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto, we join in mourning the loss of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Collins wrote. “We give thanks for his years of faithful, thoughtful, and inspiring service to the Church. As a priest for more than 70 years and in his time as bishop and supreme pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict offered us a personal example of fidelity and of what it is to be a devoted disciple of Jesus.

“As a theologian, he followed in the footsteps of the great St. Augustine in offering to us profound insight into the mysteries of our Christian faith, insight arising by God’s grace not only from his astonishing intellect and learning but also from his personal holiness and pastoral care for God’s people; his writings will help guide disciples of Jesus in the centuries that lie before us.”

Collins also lauded Benedict XVI’s leadership of the universal Church.

“As pope, he led the universal Church with wisdom and holiness, providing a clear and loving message of how our faith can inspire us and guide us through the storms of life’s journey. More than ever, his own witness, humility, and invitation to put others before ourselves should resonate throughout the world,” the cardinal observed.

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“We pray for the repose of his soul. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.”

Collins has asked all 225 member parishes of the Toronto Archdiocese to add a special prayer of the faithful at all Masses until Benedict XVI’s funeral, which is set for the morning of January 5 at St. Peter’s Basilica. The intention reads: “For the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and in thanksgiving for a life of faithful and humble service. We pray to the Lord.”

Member parishes are also asked to lower their papal flags until the conclusion of the former pontiff’s funeral and to celebrate a special Mass for him at some point before the celebration of life at the Vatican.

Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller commended Pope Benedict as an intellectual giant and great evangelizer.

“The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict is an occasion that causes us both sadness for our loss and gratitude for his ministry,” Miller wrote. “Although the Church and the world have lost one of the finest Christian minds of modern times, his passing invites reflection on his dedicated service to the Gospel.

“The former pope’s writings, known for their clarity and depth, form a legacy that will endure through the ages. History will remember his bold decision to resign from the papacy when he felt himself unable to fulfill the demands of the office,” Miller noted.

“As a close collaborator of St. John Paul, he contributed greatly to a life-giving implementation of the Second Vatican Council and fostering the new evangelization for our times.”

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Miller ended his tribute on a personal note, expressing admiration for “Pope Benedict’s kind manner and his organizational skills whenever we met,” and for the late pope’s appointment of Miller as Archbishop of Vancouver in 2009.

In Edmonton, Archbishop Richard W. Smith offered “profound thanks to God for the gift that this humble servant of the Lord has been to the Church and world. Following his episcopal motto, cooperatores veritatis, Benedict XVI dedicated his life to living in and serving the truth, who is a person: Jesus Christ.”

Smith said Benedict was “a model disciple and gifted teacher” who left as his legacy “both a personal example of loving fidelity to the Lord and a corpus of writings that offers sure guidance for Christian living.”

Canada’s Catholic Civil Rights League called Benedict “a major theologian and a great teacher.”

Benedict’s writings “bear witness to his special gifts,” said the league, noting “numerous references in his words where he brought Christ and the theology of the Church to the public square, against the onslaught of efforts to remove positions of faith from public engagement.”

The league noted two occasions in particular in which it was inspired in its mission and mandate by the late pope.

The first was his homily at the opening Mass of the papal conclave on April 18, 2005, concluding with him being elected the 265th pope. In his remarks, Benedict identified the “dictatorship of relativism” with which the world was struggling.

The other occasion came five years later, at Westminster Hall, addressing representatives of British society, including the diplomatic corps, politicians, academics, and business leaders. “Benedict spoke of the necessity for the complementary roles of religion and politics in a mature democracy,” the league noted.

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The league said it was blessed and “incredibly grateful to have had the guidance from Pope Benedict XVI to assist and sustain us with the fullness of Catholic teachings in matters of public importance in Canada and the world.”

  • Raju Hasmukh with files from CNA


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