Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Requiescat in PaceSaturday 31st December 2022
This New Year began with the sad news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
The Vatican confirmed the death of the 95-year-old on New Years Eve, after reporting a decline in health in the days before.
Our diocese joined Catholics around the world in mourning the death of the former Pope, who served as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church between April 2005 to February 2013, when he became the first Pope in 600 years to resign from his post.
Pope Emeritus Benedict’s funeral took place at 9:30am (8:30am UK time) on Thursday, 5 January 2023, in St Peter’s Square presided over by Pope Francis.
Bishop John Arnold shared a message of sorrow following the news of Pope Benedict’s death, and invited us to reflect on the enormity of his role as leader and guide of the Catholic Church.
He said: “There is much for which we need to give thanks for the leadership and gentle shepherding of the Church achieved by Pope Benedict in his eight years as our Pope and spiritual father.
“In a time of many political challenges and social change, Pope Benedict remained constant in his promotion of Gospel values, building up the family of the Church in all its diversity throughout the world.
“His was the constant invitation and encouragement to us to be true to the model and example of Christ. His life was dedicated to encouraging us with his scholarship, holiness, and prayer.”
Bishop John also gave a moving homily during a requiem Mass for the former Pope at Salford Cathedral on Thursday 5 January. Click here to read more.
Christians believe that life is a journey, where each one of us is learning about the person and ministry of Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
All followers of Christ learn to be his ambassadors in the way we live our daily lives and Bishop John reminds us that in a global Church of an estimated 1.3 billion Catholics, that journey will have many different paths and turns for people living in such different contexts around the world.
Through all of this, Pope Benedict led the global Church in its journey for eight years, helping and encouraging all its members to remain focussed on Christ, whoever and wherever we may be.
Baptised Joseph Ratzinger on 16 April 1927, the former Pope will be remembered for his invaluable studies in theology and inspirational encyclicals Deus caritas est, Spe Salvi, Caritas in veritate, and Lumen fidei, finished by his successor, Pope Francis.
Many across our diocese will remember his visit to the UK in 2010 – making him the second Pope in history to make a papal visit to our country.
During this historic visit, Pope Benedict visited London, Scotland, and Birmingham – where 55,000 people stood for hours in Cofton Park for the beatification Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference, said: “I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.”
“He was through and through a gentleman, through and through a scholar, through and through a pastor, through and through a man of God – close to the Lord and always his humble servant.”
“Pope Benedict is very much in my heart and in my prayers. I give thanks to God for his ministry and leadership.”
Click here to read more from the Bishops’ Conference about Pope Benedict XVI.
Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI
Bishop John invites us to join him in offering the following prayer:
Loving Father, we ask you to welcome Pope Benedict into eternal life, rewarding him for his selfless devotion and service of your Church.
May his example live on in our Church as we see to be ambassadors of Christ in our daily living.
As the family of the Church, we pray in communion that you will forgive any human frailty or transgression and bring him into the light of your presence where, one day, we may celebrate your infinite love and mercy together.
May he rest in peace.