A beautiful and heartfelt tribute from one successor of Peter to another:
Pope Francis and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI on Tuesday made a rare appearance together, at a ceremony to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Benedict’s ordination to the priesthood. Pope Francis praised and thanked the Pope emeritus for spending his priestly life for the Lord with a gaze and heart always turned to God, and for contributing to contribute to the growth of the Church through his prayer and wisdom.
From the text:
Today we celebrate the story of a call which began 65 years ago with your priestly ordination in the Cathedral of Friezing, on June 29, 1951. But what is the base note which runs through this long history and that, from the very beginning until today, increasingly dominates it? In one of the many beautiful pages which you have dedicated to the priesthood, you highlight how, in the hour of Simon’s definitive call, Jesus, looking at him, in the end asks only one thing: “Do you love me?”. How beautiful and true this is! For it it here, you tell us, in that “you do love me” that the Lord establishes his tending; since only if there is love for the Lord can He feed his sheep through us: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21: 15-19). This is the note that dominates an entire life spent in the priestly service and theology, which not by chance you have defined as “the search for the beloved.” It is this to which you have always borne witness, and still bear witness today: that the decisive thing in our days — come rain or shine — that one thing with which all the rest follows, is that the Lord is truly present, that we desire him, that interiorly we are close to him, that we love him, that truly we believe deeply in him, and believing truly love him. …Precisely by living and witnessing today, in such an intense and luminous way, to this one truly decisive thing — to have one’s eyes and heart turned to God — you, Your Holiness, continue to serve the Church. You do not cease to contribute authentically with determination and wisdom to its growth; and you do so from that little Monastery Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican that, in this way, shows itself to be anything but one of those little forgotten corners in which today’s throw-away culture tends to relegate people when, with age, their forces being to wane.
UPDATE: Elizabeth Scalia has some thoughts on this remarkable relationship—two men belonging to the most exclusive fraternity in the world. Read it here.