VATICAN observers called Pope emeritus Pope Benedict XVI as “God’s Rottweiler” for being steadfast in defending the theology of Catholic Church in the face of modernity.
But for Pope Francis, he wanted the world to remember his predecessor as a “noble person, so kind.”
After succumbing to illness, the 95-year old Pope emeritus joined the Creator on the last day 2022.
Other world leaders, including Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, expressed sorrow for the death of the German-born retired pontiff.
Pope Francis’ New Year’s eve homily
“At this moment, my thought goes to dear Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who left us this morning.
“We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind,” Pope Francis said during homily at the traditional end of the year celebration of Vespers and Te Deum.
Pope Francis’ message came hours after the announcement of Pope emeritus’ death.
He praised Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and expressed his gratitude “for all the good he accomplished” and for the “sacrifices he offered for the good of the Church”.
CBCP: Benedict XVI a ‘Pope of Charity’
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also paid tribute to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
“If Pope Francis is known as the Pope of Mercy and Joy, Pope Benedict will be remembered the Pope of Charity,” Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP president, said in a statement.
David “fondly” remembered Pope Benedict as the one who appointed him bishop and other Filipino bishops in July 2006.
He said among the spiritual gifts God has bestowed on Joseph Ratzinger, he will be “specially remembered as a great theologian, catechist and musician.”
PBBM, world leaders pay tribute
World leaders, especially with large Catholic populations, sent their condolences to the Catholic Christian world on the passing of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the country is in “deep sorrow” upon learning his demise.
“The Philippines is one in offering our prayers for the eternal repose of his soul,” Marcos tweeted.
The Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia, with 86 percent of its population as Roman Catholics.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Italy’s new Prime Minister Georgia Miloni also sent their condolences.
Netanyahu said Benedict will be remembered as “a true friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
“He was a great spiritual leader who was fully committed to the historic reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, which he movingly expressed during his historic visit to Israel in 2009,” the Israeli leader tweeted.
The Italian’s far-right prime minister said Benedict XVI “was a giant of faith and reason.”
“He put his life at the service of the universal Church and spoke, and will continue to speak, to the hearts and minds of men with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium,” Meloni said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed Benedict as the “German pope.”
The former pontiff was born in Germany.
“The world has lost a formative figure of the Catholic Church, an argumentative personality and a clever theologian,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.
Joe Biden, the second Catholic president of the United States, said Benedict XVI would be remembered as a renowned theologian “with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith.”
Biden recalled Pope Benedict’s remarks during their conversation in 2008 during his visit to the White House: “The need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity.”
“May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.
Banner photo: File photo of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI courtesy Vatican News