LA’s Cardinal Roger Mahony releases reflection upon passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict

Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles, issued the following statement on Saturday, Dec. 31, after the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: 

“It is with sadness tinged with gratitude that we lift up prayers for the eternal rest of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He was a grand gift from God to the Church, and his many years as a priest, a theologian, an Archbishop, and a Pope, created a tapestry of holiness, wisdom, compassion, and integrity.

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“He served the Church as a learned and skilled theologian, and his writings, addresses, homilies, and reflections remain with us as a treasure yet to be fully opened fully. He knew how to take a theological issue and treat it in a very pastoral manner. He never forgot his years as a priest and his contact with people. Many of his writings are spiritual and pastoral commentary on our discipleship with Jesus Christ. Jesus was always his focus and helping the Church to maintain her fidelity to the Lord Jesus was paramount.

“As Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith beginning in 1981 he blended sound theology with compassionate pastoral practice. Over the years he was Prefect I had several occasions to write him a personal, non-official letter, about some pastoral issue in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He welcomed informal consultation about issues affecting people’s lives without submitting a formal case or petition. He saw us as brother Bishops and he would always send back a fraternal letter offering some possible avenues forward to resolve the matter.

Former cardinal Roger Mahony attended a special mass with the relic of Santo Toribio and immigration reform Sunday, July 20, 2014. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News )

“When the clergy sexual misconduct scandal erupted he was very helpful in getting norms and regulations changed in order to handle these cases more quickly for the protection of young people and the processes needed to deal with clerics who had been found guilty of their crimes and sins. As Pope, he helped change Canon Law to assist in the entire process more rapidly.

“He was appointed Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002 and would be the Celebrant at the Funeral Mass for Pope St. John Paul II. After the Funeral Liturgies were concluded, the process moved forward to elect a new Successor to Peter. As Dean, Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the week of meetings and consultations about the condition and the needs of the Church around the world.

“It was a privilege to be part of the Conclave that elected him Pope in 2005. I recall vividly that after his canonical election he spoke to us about his choice of the name Benedict XVI.

“He reminded us that Pope Benedict XV had reigned during the years of the First World War and had preached and pleaded for an end to the terrible scourge of that war.

“Benedict XVI maintained that although no single official World War was underway at this time, nonetheless, there were countless examples of armed conflicts on every continent of the world. The sum of all these mini-wars was equal to yet another World War. His prayers and cries for peace never lessened over his pontificate.

FILE – Pope Benedict XVI wears a “saturno hat”, inspired by the ringed planet Saturn, to shield himself from the sun as he is driven through the crowd of faithful prior to his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Sept. 6, 2006. He was the reluctant pope, a shy bookworm who preferred solitary walks in the Alps and Mozart piano concertos to the public glare and majesty of Vatican pageantry. When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI and was thrust into the footsteps of his beloved and charismatic predecessor, he said he felt a guillotine had come down on him. The Vatican announced Saturday Dec. 31, 2022 that Benedict, the former Joseph Ratzinger, had died at age 95. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File)

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“Both as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI he and I shared a special hobby.

“We both enjoyed cats. He had a cat in his apartment in Rome over the years before being elected Pope. Now and then we would exchange stories about our feline friends. After his election as Pope and his move to the Papal Apartments, I asked his secretory if there were now cats in the apartment. He responded, “I can neither confirm nor deny that there are any cats in the apartment.” I said, “Thanks—what are their names?” We both shared a great laugh.

“May he know rest in the embrace of the Good Shepherd for whom he gladly spent his life, gifts, and energies for the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church.”

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