Francis praises Benedict in new book

Benedict XVI’s resignation and withdrawal into a life of prayer has taught the Church a lesson of doing “theology on its knees”, Pope Francis has said.

Francis wrote this in the preface of a new book by the Pope Emeritus, titled “Teaching and Learning the Love of God”.

It is the first volume of several that will collect the writings Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

The first volume contains writings on the priesthood by the Pope Emeritus.

An excerpt from Francis’s preface was published by the Italian La Repubblica newspaper.

The book’s release will come as Benedict XVI marks the 65th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood next week on June 29.

He will be joined by Francis on June 28 in a celebration at the Vatican’s Sala Clementina to mark the occasion.

“Every time I have read the works of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI”, Francis wrote in the preface, “it becomes increasingly clear that he has done and is doing ‘theology on his knees’.”

“[On his knees because] even before being a great theologian and teacher of the faith, we see a man who truly believes, who truly prays, you see he is a man who embodies holiness, a man of peace, a man of God.”

Pope Francis wrote that this life of prayer, and relationship with Jesus, are the heart of the priest’s life, without which organisational and intellectual skills are useless.

“[Benedict] embodies that constant relationship with the Lord Jesus without which nothing is true, everything becomes routine, priests [become] salaried [employees], bishops’ bureaucrats, and the Church is not the Church of Christ, but a product of our making, a superfluous NGO,” Francis added.

Francis wrote that it is in his prayerful retirement that Benedict has delivered his greatest lesson in “kneeling theology”.

This is because he continues to witness the “decisive factor, that inner core of priestly ministry that deacons, priests and bishops must never forget: namely, that the first and most important service isn’t the management of ‘current affairs’, but praying for others”.


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