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Pope Benedict XVI Resigns, Leaves Us Wisdom On Living the Gospel

On February 11, 2013, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced his resignation because of his advanced age and lessened strength.

In the flurry of Internet articles and television commentary that followed, what seemed to be missed was the profundity of what he has had to say in his time as Pope.

In the latest issue of the Houston Catholic Worker, we published a small collection of some very interesting things that Pope Benedict recently said. They are not only very spiritual, but address how the Gospel must affect our very lives in the world.

These excerpts appear below.

God Has Broken the Great Silence

   God has spoken. He has truly broken the great silence. He has shown Himself…

We cannot make the Church; we can only announce what He has done. The Church does not begin with our ‘making,’ but with the ‘making’ and ‘speaking’ of God. In the same way, the Apostles did not say, after a few meetings: now we want to make a Church, and that by means of a constituent assembly they were going to draft a constitution. No, they prayed and in prayer they waited, because they knew that only God Himself can create His Church, that God is the first agent: if God does not act, our things are only ours and are insufficient; only God can testify that it is He who speaks and has spoken.”

   Meditation during the first General Congregation, XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 
Synod Hall, October 8, 2012

Bureaucratization vs. Evangelization

   “Solving the pastoral problems that present themselves in your dioceses must never limit itself to organizational questions, however important these may be. This risks placing an emphasis on seeking efficiency through a sort of ‘bureaucratization of pastoral care,’ focused on structures, organizations and programs, ones which can become ‘self-referential,’ at the exclusive use of the members of those live structures. These would have scarce impact on the life of Christians who are distanced from regular practice [of the faith]. Instead, evangelization re-quires starting from the encounter with the Lord, within a dialogue rooted in prayer, which then con-centrates on the witness of giving itself toward the end of helping the people of our time to recognize and discover anew the signs of the presence of God.

–Pope Benedict XVI
Ad Limina Address to the Bishops of Western France 21 September 2012 

The Finite Is Too Little

   Young people have seen much – the proposals of the various ideologies and of consumerism – and they have become aware of the emptiness and insufficiency of those things. Man was created for the infinite; the finite is too little.

Interview with Benedict XVI, from the film, Bells of Europe, October 15, 2012

Christians Must Resist Greed and Exploitation

   Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life. Christians work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources out of a belief that, as stewards of God’s creation, we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. Christian belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.

Because these goals are shared by so many, much fruitful cooperation is possible between Christians and others. Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God. Christians have at times throughout history been unable to comply with demands made by Caesar. From the Emperor cult of ancient Rome to the totalitarian regimes of the last century, Caesar has tried to take the place of God. When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated world-view. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.

Article by Benedict XVI in the Financial Times “A time for Christians to engage with the world”

In the Desert

   In the desert, we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed impli-citly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.

   Holy Mass for the Opening of the Year of Faith, October 11, 2012

Against Selfish and Individualistic Economics

It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. In addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, peace is also endangered by those forms of fundamentalism and fanati-cism which distort the true nature of religion, which is called to foster fellowship and reconciliation among people.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day    of Peace Message 2013

Prayers for Migrants

   That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities.

   Benedict XVI’s general Prayer Intention for December  2012

That migrant families, especially the mothers, may be supported andpanied in their difficulties.

   Benedict XVI’s general Prayer Intention for February 2013

Jobs for Everyone

One of the social rights and duties most under threat today is the right to work. The reason for this is that labour and the rightful recognition of workers’ juridical status are increas-ingly undervalued, since economic development is thought to depend principally on completely free markets. Labour is thus regarded as a variable dependent on economic and financial mechanisms. In this regard, I would reaffirm that human dignity and economic, social and political factors, demand that we continue “to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone.”

   From Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day of Peace Message 2013

Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone

   Today, together with so many signs of goodness a certain spiritual desert is also developing around us. In this context, certain fundamental questions reemerge that are far weightier than they seem at first sight. What is life’s meaning? Is there a future for humanity, for us and for the generations to come? In which direction should we orient our free decisions for a good and successful outcome in life? What awaits us beyond the threshold of death?
 From these irrepressible questions it becomes clear how the world of planning, of precise calculation and of experimentation, in a word the knowledge of science, although important for human life, is not enough on its own. We do not only need bread, we need love, meaning, and hope, a sound foundation, a solid terrain that helps us to live with an authentic meaning even in times of crisis, in darkness, in difficulty, and with our daily problems.

General Audience, Saint Peter’s Square, October 24, 2012

The Lord Rejects Violence

   The Lord attests to a radical rejection of all forms of hatred and violence in favor of the absolute primacy of agape.

   From the Address of Benedict XVI to the International Theological Commission, December 2012


Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXXIV, No. 1, January-February 2013.