Lidia Dudkiewicz, The Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’
A strongman of faith, a genius of theology – this is the senior pope Benedict XVI who lives alone in hiding in the former cloister ‘Mater Ecclesiae’ in Vatican Gardens where he holds his ministry of prayer for Church and his successor Francis. ‘My paradise’ – this is how he speaks about this place where he spends his last stage of his life on praying and listening to God. On 16 April 2018 Benedict XVI will be celebrating his 91st birthday. His recently published complete biography entitled: A witness of the truth’, prepared by Elio Gierriero, is a summary of the phenomenon of Benedict XVI, and also a man of an epoch, Ratzinger’s epoch, who changed Church and influenced the fate of the world. The author of the biography defines the uniqueness of Joseph Ratzinger in his several significant phrases: a miraculous child of theology, ‘an armored cardinal’, a pope the intellectualist, a defender of orthodoxy, ‘a modest worker of Lord’s vineyard’, a witness of the Truth. Hence, there is – his bishopric motto ‘Crroperatores Veritatis’ which means ‘cooperators of the truth’. Spiritual guides of Benedict XVI were and are: St. Benedict, St. Augustine and St. Bonaventure.
When we are looking at the greatness of Benedict XVI, we must consider the person of Fr. prof. Waldemar Chrostowski, a laureate of a prestigious Ratzinger Prize for the year 2014. He thinks that the pontificate of the pope from Germany was stigmatized with lots of obstacles and deep suffering. Strong oppositions were caused by his intransigence in showing and defending fundamental truths of faith and Christian morality. He paid a lot for his adamant attitude. Fr. prof. Chrostowski notes the pope’s lecture in Ratyzbona given on 12 September 2006, on the issue of faith, reason and university which had been strongly manipulated by media and became an occasion to strengthen Christian-Muslim confrontation. As a result of the cunning intrigue aimed against Church, a painful experience for Benedict XVI was impossibility of giving a lecture to the society of the Roman University La Sapienza which had been planned for 17 January 2008. Benedict XVI was courageous in his predicting – for example, in a speech given in Bundestag on 22 September 2011, he asked politicians – following St. Augustine – a rhetoric question: ‘What are countries like, being deprived of justice if not bands of robbers?’. He used strong words towards the spreading gender ideology, saying that this is the ‘epoch of a sin towards God the Creator’. He warned against Church secularizing. In his opinion if Church got similar to the world, it would no longer be needed.
We hear an important German biographer of Benedict XVI. This is Peter Seewald, the author of, among the others, a bestseller, published in 2016 as an interview, entitled: ‘Benedict XV|I. Last talks’. Recently Seewald has been asked whether there are any unknown areas of life of Benedict XVI. He answered that we still have little knowledge on Ratzinger as a perfect student, who was studying teaching of St. Augustine at the age of 23, or as a young professor, treated as ‘the star’ on the sky of theology, who celebrated the Holy Mass in prison during his holiday. We also have very little knowledge about the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Faith Teaching, who used to have breakfast in Campo Santo with a doorman after every Holy Mass on Thursday morning. Peter Seewald is sure that in the case of Ratzinger we can speak about the second Augustine. In his opinion: - As much as the thought of St. Augustine marked the history of theology and philosophy, beginning from the Middle Ages till now, we will live with the work of Ratzinger for next centuries.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 15/2018 (15 IV 2018)