Happy Birthday to the Pope of Christian Unity, Benedict XVI
At the age of 85, he is not winding down.
He is a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" Notice how little fanfare accompanied his birthday as well as the seven year anniversary of his election. Clearly, to this successor of Peter, it is not about him, but about the Lord whom he serves. His diminutive size and humble manner reveal the holy heart of this man totally given over to the Lord. We extend our heartfelt "Happy Birthday" to Pope Benedict XVI.
Happy Birthday to Pope Benedict XVI
ROME, Italy (Catholic Online) - Pope Benedict XVI turned 85 years old on April 16, 2012. Upon his election to the Chair of Peter some early observers indicated his age would make him a "caretaker" Pope. His pace and extraordinary contributions have demonstrated that those observers were absolutely wrong. He has proven to be an indefatigable and tireless missionary and a treasure to the whole Church.
He continued the pastoral visits of his predecessor with 23 international trips, so far. He has presided over four synods of bishops and three World Youth Days. The youth of the world still flock to World Youth days and his genuine love for them - and they for him - is evident everywhere he goes. He has pastorally and decisively dealt with serious matters concerning the need for a purification of the Church, with strength, clarity and charity.
He is exactly what he said in his self assessment, given when he began his service, a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord" Notice how little fanfare accompanied his birthday as well as the seven year anniversary of his election. Clearly, to this successor of Peter, it is not about him, but about the Lord whom he serves. His diminutive size and humble manner reveal the holy heart of this man totally given over to the Lord.
He has written three encyclicals, three apostolic exhortations and two books about Jesus of Nazareth. He is a scholar of the highest order, yet able to communicate with simplicity and beauty. All because he is a man of deep prayer. He has given continual, deep and spiritually profound teaching to the faithful - including some of the finest hagiography in centuries - during his Wednesday Catechesis.
He made Church history, when Motu Propio, he released the Apostolic Constitution on Groups of Anglicans which began the healing of the divided Western Church. Two Ordinariates have already been formed and more will follow. The fruits of these Ordinariates will be recounted by future historians as among the most important events in the Third Millennium of the Church.
He has earned the great respect of Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church and is making progress toward some form of communion between Eastern and Western Christianity which could make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion.
He has championed the re-christianizing of Europe and passionately promoted the New Evangelization of the Church - even establishing a new Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization. He has been a champion of the New Ecclesial movements and helped to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as gift for the missionary work of the Church in this hour.
He has doggedly defended the Christian roots of the West and defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He has engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of dialogue in truth. He began the "Courts of the Gentiles" outreach engaging atheists and agnostics. Clearly, this is a missionary Pope.
And, at the age of 85, he is not winding down. Even though his brother has indicated he thinks Benedict will slow his travel, the Pope has already announced a trip to Lebanon. We have had seven years of Pope Benedict XVI and it appears to this Deacon that he is leading the Catholic Church into a New Missionary Age. The Church is blessed to have him at the helm of the Barque of Peter as she sails into the Third Christian Millennium.
I remember that day, April 20, 2005, when the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI gave his first message at the end of a Mass he had concelebrated with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He signaled his mission:
"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Luke 22: 32).
"With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
The authentic ecumenical mission, restoring the full and visible unity of the Church, has been the beating heart of Pope Benedicts years of service in the Chair of St Peter. That is because it reflects Heart of the Lord. "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17: 20, 21) ...
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