"May he help us to rediscover in Christ the joy of believing and the hope of living."
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Opening his catechesis at the general audience of January 4, 2023, Pope Francis paid tribute to his predecessor, who died on December 31. He said that Benedict XVI “took us by the hand” to lead us to an “encounter” with “Jesus, the Crucified and the Risen.” A few calls of “Santo Subito” (sainthood now) sprang up from the crowd.
“I would like us to join those who are paying tribute to Benedict XVI here,” the Pope told the crowd that filled Paul VI Hall, in reference to the thousands of faithful who have come to pay their respects before the remains of the Pope Emeritus on display in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Pope Francis paid tribute to Benedict as “a great master of catechesis,” praising the teaching of the Pope Emeritus, “which was not self-referential, but ecclesial, because he always wanted to accompany us towards an encounter with Jesus.” These words triggered a great deal of applause from the assembly, where some could be heard shouting the name of the deceased pope.
“Jesus, the Crucified and Risen, the Living and the Lord, is the goal towards which Pope Benedict has led us, taking us by the hand,” continued the Argentine Pontiff, before wishing: “May he help us to rediscover in Christ the joy of believing and the hope of living.”
Addressing the German-speaking pilgrims, the Pope recalled “our dear departed Benedict XVI,” who said that “he who believes is never alone.”
“Whoever has God has many brothers and sisters,” added the Pontiff, noting that “these days we experience that the community of faith is universal and does not end with death.”
These words were applauded again, with a few more “Santo Subito’s” thrown in from the crowd.
This is the third time that Pope Francis has spoken publicly about Benedict. On the day of his death, at the Vigil of December 31, he remembered his kindness. On the next day, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, he spoke of him both at Mass and at the Angelus. Read about those occasions below: