Benedict embraces Franciscan Mercy

Benedict XVI endorses Francis’s ministry of mercy

Francis and Benedict resized

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has endorsed the mercy-filled ministry of his successor, Pope Francis. Benedict did this at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican at a ceremony held to celebrate the anniversary of his ordination as priest 65 years ago. Francis was at the event, as were some 30 cardinals and invited guests.

The retired pope gave an off-the-cuff, mini-theology lesson sprinkled with Greek and Latin. Benedict thanked Francis for letting him live out his final years in a Vatican monastery, where he said he felt “protected”.

“Thank you, Holy Father, for your goodness, which from the first moment of your election has struck every day of my life,” Benedict XVI said, speaking without notes. “We hope that you can go forward with all of us on this path of divine mercy, showing us the path of Jesus toward God.”

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Pope Francis entered the Clementine Hall and went straight to embrace Benedict. The latter stood up and removed his white skullcap in a sign of deference. They embraced several more times during the ceremony.

Benedict listened intently as Francis addressed him – as “Your Holiness” – lauding his 65 years of service to the Church. Pope Francis said that Benedict continues to serve the Church, “not ceasing to truly contribute to her growth with strength and wisdom.From [this place] emanates a tranquillity, a peace, a strength, a confidence, a maturity, a faith, a dedication, and a fidelity that does so much good for me, and gives strength to me and to the whole Church”.


This release from the N.Z. Roman Catholic press documents an historic occasion – that of the Vatican celebration of former Pope Benedict’s 65th Anniversary of his priesting. This is an extraordinary length of time for anyone to exercise ministry as a priest, and for the ministry to have culminated in a time of prayer and intercession within the setting of the Roman Catholic world centre is surely a matter io be properly celebrated. 

It is significant that at a time of criticism from conservatives in the Vatican hierarchy – that those critical of the outreach of Pope Francis to people on the margins of the Church were rebuffed by Benedict when they tried to obtain his support – that the former Pope was embraced by Francis in this recognition of his long priestly ministry.

Pope Francis also pointed to the fact that Benedict was now engaged in a most important phase of his ministry – as a person of prayer and intercession for the Church – a very Franciscan style of ministry appropriate to the former leader of the world’s Catholics.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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