Msgr. Jan Thomas Limchua made the remarks as he presided over the requiem mass held by the Archdiocese of Cebu for the late pope at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023.
The pope emeritus’ death was confirmed in a statement from Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Saturday morning, Dec. 31.
Limchua recalled how the late pope had inspired priests and many other people as, among others, he left three important things: Caritas (charity), the importance of the truth, and strong faith in the divine.
Limchua shared how the late pope made charity and love the guiding light in his pontificate.
“You (Pope Benedict) reminded us of the many loves we have. The loves of ourselves, our echoism, but above all, you reminded us of the powerful impact of God’s love in us. Of how God’s love purifies us, of how God’s love softens our hearts. In that way, we imitate God’s love and make it alive. Your holiness, I have seen the many instances in which you have personified that love,” said Limchua.
Limchua also lauded the late pontiff for his courage in stepping down from his post in 2013, describing the latter’s move as brave amid the criticism.
The shy German theologian, who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe, was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign from the job.
Limchua also recalled how the late pope loved his clergymen and how he acted as a father who was ready to listen at all times.
Limchua said the late pope taught them to put truth as the center of all life endeavors.
The monsignor also narrated how Pope Benedict taught people during his reign to turn back to the lord and put the divine as the center of their lives.
“If there are many things that you have left us, your holiness, one thing is important for us, that we should always go back to the Lord. In the mentality of today, when we want to cling to power, when we want to cling to influence and prestige, you taught us that in the end, it is the lord, it is Him,” Limchua said.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma described in an interview how the Archdiocese of Cebu was thankful when Cebu was chosen as the venue of the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress, and for the canonization of the Visayan San Pedro Calungsod on Oct. 21, 2012, all during Pope Benedict’s reign.
Palma described the late pope as “a good example of humility and love for the church… a wonderful person, a loving shepherd.”
Pope Benedict died at 95 on New Year’s Eve, almost a decade after he stunned the world by announcing his resignation from his post on Feb. 11, 2013, citing his advanced age.
He said he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church that he had steered for eight years through scandal and indifference. His resignation took effect on Feb. 28 of that year.
His dramatic decision paved the way for the conclave that elected Pope Francis as his successor.
The two popes then lived side-by-side in the Vatican gardens, an unprecedented arrangement that set the stage for future “popes emeritus” to do the same.
Pope Francis will celebrate Benedict’s funeral mass on Thursday, the first time in the modern age that a current pope will eulogize a retired one.
As tributes poured in from political and religious leaders around the world, Francis himself praised Benedict’s “kindness” Saturday and thanked him for “his testimony of faith and prayer, especially in these final years of retired life.”
Speaking during a New Year’s Eve vigil, Francis said only God knew “of his sacrifices offered for the good of the church.”
The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger never wanted to be pope, planning at age 78 to spend his final years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria.
Instead, he was forced to follow in the footsteps of St. John Paul II and run the church through the fallout of the clerical sex abuse scandal and then a second scandal that erupted when his own butler stole his personal papers and gave them to a journalist.
The butler said he gave the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he thought the pope wasn’t being informed of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican and that exposing it publicly would put the church on the right track.
Benedict set the Catholic Church on a conservative, tradition-minded path that often alienated progressives. He relaxed the restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass and launched a crackdown on American nuns, insisting that the church stay true to its doctrine and traditions in the face of a changing world.
It was a path that in many ways was reversed by his successor, Francis, whose mercy-over-morals priorities alienated the traditionalists who had been so indulged by Benedict.
Like his predecessor, Benedict made reaching out to Jews a hallmark of his papacy. In his 2011 book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Benedict made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Christ, explaining biblically and theologically why there was no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death. (AP)