CNEWA Remembers Benedict XVI

Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the universal church, along with people of all faiths, mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Rome today, 31 December.

Born in 1927, Joseph Ratzinger, as Benedict XVI, served as the 264th pope of Rome from 2005 to 2013. He was a theologian, bishop and church leader whose intellectual and pastoral legacy qualifies him as a towering figure of the late 20th– and early 21st-century church.  

Benedict XVI was highly attuned to the powerful social forces in the Middle East and what the effects of conflict in the region would mean for minority Christians. As such, he made it a priority to strive for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue in the Middle East, welcoming the concept of healthy secularity, the role of civil society, strong catechesis and faith formation. 

His understanding of this region of the world contributed to his calling a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East at the Vatican in 2010, inviting CNEWA’s president at the time, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, to participate. The pope’s prescient thinking brought together the Eastern churches in the Middle East just prior to the Arab Spring and the outbreak of civil war in Syria, bolstering solidarity among Christians at a time when it was needed most.

“Ecumenical unity does not mean uniformity of traditions and celebrations … By praying together in the same words, Christians will acknowledge their common roots in the one apostolic faith which is the basis of our pursuit of full communion,” Pope Benedict said in his 2012 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Ecclesia In Medio Oriente.”

“Engaging together in a deeper study of the Eastern and Latin Fathers, and of our respective spiritual traditions, could prove greatly helpful to this end.”

Please join us in praying for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the church and all people of good will dedicated to the recognition of the Benedictine “search for God” in this time of mourning. For all, Benedict XVI was a sign of the hope he so eloquently preached.

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