On Tuesday, April 19, 2005 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was selected by the College of Cardinals to become the 265th pope in the 2,000 history of the Catholic Church. It took the College only one day and four ballots to choose Cardinal Ratzinger as the successor to Pope John Paul II. With his very first words to the faithful from the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s square, the humility of Pope Benedict was immediately apparent:
Dear brothers and sisters,
After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.
I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with inadequate instruments, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.
Let us move forward in the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of His unfailing help! The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, will be on our side. Thank you.
The following week, during his first Wednesday general audience, Pope Benedict XVI explained his choice of names:
“I wanted to be called Benedict XVI in order to create a spiritual bond with Benedict XV, who steered the Church through the period of turmoil caused by the First World War. He was a courageous and authentic prophet of peace…
“The name “Benedict” also calls to mind the extraordinary figure of the great “Patriarch of Western Monasticism”, St Benedict of Norcia, Co-Patron of Europe…he is a fundamental reference point for European unity and a powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots of his culture and civilization.”
On a day when we recall that first appearance on the balcony in St. Peter’s ten years ago, let us offer prayers and even masses for our pope emeritus. Let us thank God for the papacy of Benedict XVI.
For those able to attend a weekly diocesan Latin Mass, thank Pope Benedict for Summorum Pontificum and an increased availability to the Traditional Mass.
As the Church is set to ordain nearly 600 men to the priesthood in the U.S. in 2015 (a 20% increase from last year), let us remember that these men entered seminary during those early years of Benedict’s papacy. Thank our pope emeritus for the immeasurable influence his writings and personal example have had on an entire generation of priests. These young men are truly “BXVI” priests.
The Catholic landscape in 2015 is considerably different because of the election of Pope Benedict. May we renew our efforts to help actualize his vision for the Church in the years to come.
Photo Credit: L’Osservatore Romano/AP