I brought The island of Patmos to the funeral of Benedict XVI between fog and old indelible memories

I BRING THE ISLAND OF PATMOS AT THE FUNERAL OF BENEDICT XVI BETWEEN FOG AND OLD INDELIBLE MEMORIES

I never imagined that the pontificate of Benedict XVI would be liquidated with an hour-long funeral Mass and a five-minute homily during which nothing was said. Something complained of by many priests present in the square at the end of the celebration. But on the other hand it is known and well known today: to us priests those who listen to us?

- Church news -

Author
Simone Pifizzi

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In 2005, at the funeral of John Paul II a strong wind was blowing which at the end of the celebration closed the Book of the Holy Gospel placed open above the coffin. To that of Benedict XVI, celebrated this morning there was a fog that prevented seeing the dome of St. Peter's, while in other areas of the capital it was sunny. At the next funeral, when will, what other sign will be reserved for us, even if today the ability to read the signs seems to have been lost?

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Well did Father Ariel to "exhume" from the archive of our Island of Patmos an old article of 2017 in which he spoke years in advance of the funeral of Benedict XVI [see article WHO], preceded by a very deep and lucid comment from our Father Ivano [see article WHO].

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I met in 1993 the one who in the 2005 he will become the 265th successor of the Blessed Apostle Peter, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, at the time Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was invited to Florence by the then Archbishop, the Cardinal Silvano Sandpipers, who made him stay in the seminary, as it used to be. The rector of the seminary asked me and another confrere to take care of him and to serve him for all his needs. I let you imagine our fear and trembling, finding ourselves before the Prefect of that dicastery, all the more so a theologian like him. To our amazement we met and were able to talk to a very amiable and pleasant person.

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When we told him that we were at your complete disposal, in a sly and sympathetic way he replied: “But if you weren't supposed to be near me, what would you have done? What do you usually do in these moments and in these time slots??». We replied that in those moments we were devoted to study. He answered us: «Then it will be good that you study and that you prepare yourselves in the best possible way for your ministry, instead of standing behind me.

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He showed great care for us in those days, especially when he celebrated Holy Mass in the seminary chapel, manifesting in its sobriety a sacred liturgical depth, giving us homilies that were profound catechesis.

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Another memory it was when in the 2006 I brought young people to an audience during his first year of pontificate. The boys always had a vivid memory of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, under whose pontificate they were born and raised. A histrionic and enveloping personality, before which Benedict XVI initially appeared a shy introvert. Not to mention the fury unleashed on him by the mass media. Like this, understand their doubts and perplexities, I extended this invitation: “Make a little effort: listen to what he will say in the hearing, then we'll talk about it". And in his style, Benedict XVI was able to speak of very profound themes with extraordinary simplicity, immediately grabbing their attention and winning their interest. I returned to Florence with young people who were enthusiastic about having attended that audience, who developed from that day to follow great affection and a deep bond towards the figure of Benedict XVI.

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Several of those young people, in the following days, they confided in me that untrue and above all ungenerous stereotypes had been constructed about Benedict XVI. How can we forget the full-page headline of a newspaper that headlined the day after his election: The German Shepherd?

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I brought it back to the hearing the young years later, during his last year of pontificate, shortly before the act of resignation from the exercise of the Petrine ministry. That too was a day of intense emotions that affected them greatly. The same ones we saw in large numbers parading in front of Benedict XVI's coffin exposed to the faithful in the Papal Archbasilica of St. Peter's, where they were calculated 200.000 people flocked in three days. All in confirmation of that truth kept silent for years by the national and international press which immediately declared war on him since his election: Benedict XVI was much loved by young people. If in fact we have been witnessing for a decade a vertiginous and dramatic decline in vocations to the priestly life, in the first years of Benedict XVI's pontificate, vocations were on the rise. And I'm certainly not saying that, and in numbers, the story. Above all, our increasingly empty seminaries say so. Also because, if the model of priest proposed today is that of the activist, I might as well enroll in the faculty of sociology and then become a social worker. And we want to talk about abandoning the priesthood? Such a high number of requests for dispensation from the exercise of the sacred priestly ministry had not been recorded since the 1970s, many of which advanced by priests in deep crisis, with twenty or thirty years of ministry behind them. This theme on which some bishops-social they should ask Father Ariel for guidance, that gives 12 years he dedicated himself to the care and assistance of priests in difficulty.

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The last memory which I keep dates back to February 11 of 2017, when I went with Cardinal Ernest Simoni on a private visit to the monastery Mother of the Church. The Holy Father wanted to meet us and spend time with us before the Holy Mass, showing everyone the same affection: for an elderly and heroic Cardinal like Ernest Simoni, which he had spent 27 years of his life in the communist prisons of Albania, and likewise for me, that I also did not experience certain forms of white martyrdom with heroism.

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The thing that struck me and moved me, it was that Benedict XVI recognized in this priest, now advanced in the years of priestly ministry, the seminarian met by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Archbishop's Seminary of Florence. He really remembered everything about that visit.

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After this private meeting we concelebrated the Eucharist presided over by him in the chapel of the monastery Mother of the Church. I have already testified about that Holy Mass in these columns of ours last year [see article WHO], specifying that in the canon Benedict XVI pronounced the phrase: «… una cum famulo your Pope our Francisco». Testimony that, however, did not help the creators of cryptic codes, amphibology e, above all, to those who unfortunately follow certain lunatics who have given life to the world of the unreal [See previous articles WHO, WHO].

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After the Holy Mass there was a very prolonged fraternal meeting, during which we offered him some gifts from the Church of Florence. Before the end of that meeting, the Holy Father gave me his zucchetto, which I clearly keep as a precious memory of this Pontiff, that despite certain human and governmental limitations, I consider him a great pontiff for his magisterium, for his catecheses and his unforgettable homiletics.

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This morning I attended the funeral services in a St. Peter's Square packed with people like I haven't seen for many years. Square that we could risk - if Father Ariel had guessed this time too - not to see again like this. About a hundred thousand people were present, and almost 4.000 concelebrating priests. What struck me most was the presence of so many young people, as the pictures show.

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I cannot omit one final note, sad but true, on which, however, I do not intend to dwell: I never imagined that the pontificate of Benedict XVI would be liquidated with an hour-long funeral Mass and a five-minute homily during which nothing was said. Something complained of by many priests present in the square at the end of the celebration. But on the other hand it is known and known: to us priests those who listen to us? When you are busy listening to everything, especially what is not Catholic, one may lack the time necessary to listen to the workers who work in the Lord's vineyard.

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In certain occasions however, a pitiful veil must be drawn, or maybe even a heavy wool quilt with the sound of the headstone setting.

Rome, 5 January 2023

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MEMORIES

11 February 2017: the Holy Father Benedict XVI with Cardinal Ernest Simoni and the Florentine priest Simone Pifizzi

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3 replies
  1. Antonello
    Antonello says:

    The square was not packed, ma comunque la presenza di fedeli è stata molto significativa.
    Per quanti riguarda la messa e l’omelia, forse non si poteva chiedere di più. Se il papa è uno ed è Francesco, non si può pretendere dei solenni funerali pontificali in pompa magna.
    Concentriamoci ora sull’accelerare il processo di canonizzazione per arrivare ad avere quanto prima un San Benedetto Magno, papa e Dottore della Chiesa.

    • father ariel
      father ariel says:

      In 2000 years the Church has given the title of “great” a 2 soli Sommi Pontefici: Gregorio e Leone.
      I processi di beatificazione non si aprono su due piedi, tanto meno quelli dei Sommi Pontefici, meno che mai si fanno spingendo sull’acceleratore.

      Come postulatore delle cause dei Santi ho sempre ritenuto imprudente e inopportuna la velocità con la quale è stato portato avanti il processo di Giovanni Paolo II che è stato beatificato e poi canonizzato in meno di 9 anni e spero che questo non si ripeta più.

      Ci sono figure di Beati e Santi ben più meritevoli di Benedetto XVI di essere proclamati dottori della Chiesa, soprattutto le ricordo che alcuni dei nostri più famosi dottori della Chiesa sono stati proclamati tali a distanza di secoli dalla loro morte e dalle loro canonizzazioni.

      Personalmente ritendo che Benedetto XVI, indubbio ottimo teologo, non abbia i requisiti per essere proclamato dottore della Chiesa, soprattutto perché non ha creato né dato vita ad alcun pensiero innovativo sul quale il magistero ha potuto poi creare nuove discipline, dottrine e nuove forme di pastorale.

      L’emotività è una brutta bestia, of always.

      • Antonello
        Antonello says:

        Yup, certainly my message was moved by emotion, that, I agree, è una brutta bestia. Più che altro il mio timore è che venga in qualche modo liquidato o facilmente dimenticato. E questo sarebbe un grave errore e danno.

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