Cardinal Oswald Gracias - Message on Pope Benedict XVI
My Dear People,
The Church all over the world is in mourning because our dear Pope Benedict XVI is no more. Not only the Church is sad but many many people of good will. Our much loved Holy Father who was the head of the Church from 2005-2013 has gone to his eternal reward.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope was a very close confidant of St. John Paul II. Being the closest advisor of Pope John Paul II, during his own pontificate, Pope Benedict carried forward all the initiatives begun by Pope John Paul II. Ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, fidelity to the traditions of the Church were particularly close to his heart.
I could describe him as the greatest Christian theologian of the 20th century, accepted by Catholics and Protestant theologians alike. His writings were always brilliant. On a personal level, I made it a point to read much of what he wrote and I always got some new insight in theology or spirituality after reading his articles. I told him so and thanked him for his writings. I was overjoyed when last Christmas when I sent him my greetings he responded by sending me two of his books.
He was one of the kindest, gentlest, and humblest of persons. I have several times met him at St. Peters Square as he was walking home with his simple black briefcase after a tiring day’s work at his office down the street. My closer personal contact with him began when in 2006 he transferred me from Agra as Archbishop of Bombay and then created me Cardinal in 2007. I met him several times after that. He was sometimes misunderstood because he was always firm on principles and zealously worked for orthodoxy in faith.
Pope Benedict has gone but his legacy lives on: spiritual, theological, pastoral. The example of his priestly life and sanctity will continue to do good to all of us.
I ask all our people to pray for him, that God rewards him for his outstanding leadership of the Church at a particularly challenging time; that his example of discipleship of the Lord continues to inspire us, and that through his intercession we receive many blessings from the Lord.
Pope Benedict’s funeral will be at 9.30 am (Rome Time) on Thursday, January 5, 2023. I will be attending the funeral. On Monday, January 2, 2023, I will offer a solemn Eucharist at Holy Name Cathedral at 6.30pm, thanking the Lord for the gift of Pope Benedict and praying for him. Through this video message I wish to invite those who wish and can conveniently do so, to join me. Else you could pray for him in your own Churches and communities.
Today we complete the Christmas week, and we begin the New Year with the feast of Mary, Mother of God. We pray that the Mother of God and our mother brings many graces to us and that as she gave Jesus to the world, she also brings Jesus to our personal homes.
I wish you all God’s blessings for 2023. A Happy and Holy New Year to each one of you. I specially greet those who are sick, elderly and homebound. Once again, A Happy and Holy New Year 2023 to all of you.
+Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay