Benedict XVI endorses Francis’s ministry of mercy

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has endorsed the mercy-filled ministry of his successor, Pope Francis.

Benedict did this at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican at a ceremony held to celebrate the anniversary of his ordination as priest 65 years ago.

Francis was at the event, as were some 30 cardinals and invited guests.

The retired pope gave an off-the-cuff, mini-theology lesson sprinkled with Greek and Latin.

Benedict thanked Francis for letting him live out his final years in a Vatican monastery, where he said he felt “protected”.

“Thank you, Holy Father, for your goodness, which from the first moment of your election has struck every day of my life,” Benedict XVI said, speaking without notes.

“We hope that you can go forward with all of us on this path of divine mercy, showing us the path of Jesus toward God.”

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Pope Francis entered the Clementine Hall and went straight to embrace Benedict.

The latter stood up and removed his white skullcap in a sign of deference.

They embraced several more times during the ceremony.

Benedict listened intently as Francis addressed him – as “Your Holiness” – lauding his 65 years of service to the Church.

Pope Francis said that Benedict continues to serve the Church, “not ceasing to truly contribute to her growth with strength and wisdom”.

“And you do this,” Francis said, “from that little Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican, that is shown in that way to be anything but that forgotten little corner to which today’s culture of waste tends to relegate people when, with age, their strength diminishes.”

Divine Providence, he said, “has willed that you, dear Brother, should reach a place one could truly call ‘Franciscan’.”

“[From this place] emanates a tranquillity, a peace, a strength, a confidence, a maturity, a faith, a dedication, and a fidelity that does so much good for me, and gives strength to me and to the whole Church”.


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