Five foreign trips, one Synod of Bishops, two Motu Proprio’s, one Post Synodal Exhortation, a special Year for Priests – these are just some of the ingredients that make up the average year in the life of Pope Benedict XVI, who marks the 6th anniversary of his pontificate Tuesday.
From Malta mid-April, the tenth anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children in Fatima Portugal in June, to his arrival on the shores of Cyprus on June 4th. There, “deeply saddened” by the brutal murder only days earlier of the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, Luigi Padovese, Pope Benedict XVI launched a call for the protection of minority Christian communities in the Middle East.
Late June between the encircling colonnade of St Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict welcomed 15 thousand priests, deacons and seminarians from all four corners of the world for the closing of the Year for Priests, addressing the “stain” of sex abuse by members of the clergy, in a sign of repentance and catharsis;
” And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God’s concern for our good, turns into its very opposite. We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; ”
But this cloud, the scandal and tragedy of abuse, which has dogged the pontificate of Benedict XVI continues to cast its shadow in the lead up to one of his most delicate of ‘Papal Journey’s’ to date, his September visit to the United Kingdom. Preceded by a negative media campaign, the apostolic visit caught many by surprise;
“the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization”.
Leaving Britain in the safeguard of the spiritual legacy of a giant of Christianity, Blessed John Henry Nemwan, at the end of that month the Holy Father signed the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 200 pages that call us all to learn more about Sacred Scripture. Referring back to the document later in the year the Pope noted;
“a great many Christians need to have the word of God once more persuasively proclaimed to them, so that they can concretely experienced the power of the Gospel” (n. 96). Problems sometimes seem to increase when the Church turns to the men and women who are far away or indifferent to an experience of faith”.
Moreover, the rising tide of indifference to Christian values, especially in the West, led the Pope sign the Motu proprio Ubicumque et semper, in June, creating the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, with the aim of combatting “the eclipse of the sense of God” in the modern world. October is the month instead of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. For three weeks, the Pope listens carefully to the evidence of those Churches clinging on to their witness in the Holy Sites. At the concluding Mass of the Synod, October 24, Benedict XVI reiterated:
” Peace is the indispensable condition for a life worthy of humanity and society. Peace is also the best remedy to avoid emigration from the Middle East. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” we are told in the Psalm (122:6). We pray for peace in the Holy Land. We pray for peace in the Middle East, undertaking to try to ensure that this gift of God to men of goodwill should spread through the whole world. ”
In November, there is still time for one more trip to Spain, Santiago de Compostela and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. But above all there is time and space for the presentation of the interview-book “Light of the World”, in which the Pope – to questions posed by the German journalist Peter Seewald – answers with a simple language and without any hesitation matters of the most delicate on the human consciousness. The year 2010 ended with an important “technical” document : on December 30, Pope Benedict XVI published the Motu Proprio on preventing and combating illegal financial activities. The very next night, a bloody New Year’s Eve bomb exploded outside a Christian Coptic church in Alexandria. In his Angelus of January 2, the Pope condemns the massacre and “all violence perpetrated against humanity. ”
Pope Benedict also speaks forcefully in defence of religious freedom in his January address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. In March, the second volume of his the book on “Jesus of Nazareth” is presented, soon after entering the New York Times, best seller list.
And last but certainly not least – in the life of a professor Pope – a year of lessons: over 54 homilies rooted and built up in Sacred Scripture, and over 40 catechesis dedicated to the great men and women of the Church rooted and built up in Jesus Christ.