Friday, February 13, 2015

Father Benedict's Legacy

On Wednesday this week on the Son Rise Morning Show, Matt Swaim and Anna Mitchell reminisced about Monday, February 11, 2013 when Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement--I was scheduled for a Shrovetide interview that morning that changed into an analysis of Benedict's influence on Catholicism in England; I had 30 minutes to prepare!

The National Catholic Register cites the influence of that visit in this article, which notes that instead of the title "Emeritus Pope", he now uses the simple name Father Benedict:

Since his retirement, Benedict’s days have been filled with prayer and study, largely out of the public view. And he now goes by the simple title “Father Benedict.” However, some see the legacy of the pope emeritus as continuing to resonate in complementarity to that of his successor, Pope Francis. . . .

Benedict XVI’s legacy has also extended well beyond the Curia, with many young Catholics attributing their conversions to his pontificate.

Following his 2010 visit to the U.K., for instance, there has been a rise in Catholic youth-initiated movements — Youth 2000, Night Fever and Flame Congress — as well as a slow and steady increase in men and women pursuing vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The impact of this visit on U.K. Catholics was demonstrated shortly after the papal resignation was announced through an online initiative entitled Generation Benedict, in which 40 young people were invited to share their testimonies of how the German pope had touched their lives.

The initiative came in response to “a lot of negative media surrounding his abdication,” said Collette Power, co-founder of Generation Benedict, along with Lisette Carr, both young laywomen from Britain.

“Our lives had been profoundly changed by his papacy and by the invitation he had extended to us to know the Lord and to become saints,” she said, “and we knew a lot of other young people that had the same experience. This wasn’t being told in the media.”

Power told CNA she had lapsed from her faith but experienced a conversion during Benedict’s visit to the U.K., culminating in the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park.

Although she had gone to Mass as a child, she said “no one had ever really explained the heart of the Gospel, which Pope Benedict did when he visited England.”

“To know that God loves me and that I’m called to have a personal relationship with Jesus; and that I’m called to holiness, nothing less, not the mediocrity of the world; that the Church challenges me and the Lord challenges me to be a saint [are all things Benedict explained].”

God bless Father Benedict! I am now reading his collection of biographies of holy men and women in the Middle Ages and beyond given at General Audiences from January 2010 to January 2011.  His erudition, love for the Church and her saints, and concern for all to be holy shine through these portraits.

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