Correspondent in the Vatican
This June 29 should be doubly a feast in the “Mater Ecclesiae” monastery in the Vatican gardens, where Benedict XVI lives in retirement. Party because it is the day of Saint Peter, of whom Benedict was successor; and also because 71 years have passed since the moment that Joseph Ratzinger considers “the most important of my life”when he was ordained a priest. However, as he has been doing for several years, this day will pass serenely and in private, with his main collaborators.
In Rome there is concern that a few days ago, his secretary Georg Gänswein was moved to tears during a speech in Munich, when he explained with what spirit Benedict XVI faces this stage of his life.
Gänswein he had to interrupt his words three times for many secondsas some 300 guests watched in stunned silence at what was happening.
It was a meeting organized by the “Joseph Ratzinger Foundation – Pope Benedict XVI”, in the Nymphenburg Palace.
He had explained, for example, that Benedict lived the mission of being pontiff not only as a burden but also as a joy of the soul, “and has preserved this joy of soul, beyond all the difficulties and disappointments. It is like a light that accompanies you internally».
In the speech, Gänswein was moved and remained silent through tears when he began to quote Benedict XVI, who claimed that «I would not have imagined that the road between the Mater Ecclesiae monastery (where he lives in the Vatican Gardens) and the gates of paradise where Saint Peter is is so long». “These are words that Pope Benedict has entrusted to me with fine humor,” said Georg Gänswein, moved.
He further explained that although “the last few years have sapped his strength, he keeps that sense of humor intact” and face the day to day with humble serenity. “He was happy as a child when he was informed of today’s ceremony. And he asked me to send him a warm greeting and blessings to all”, he added on June 18, assuring that the Pope Emeritus was following her live on television.
As his crying raised some fear in the Vatican, to avoid misunderstandings about Benedict’s health, Gänswein clarified that Ratzinger he is “lucid, wide awake in spirit and vision”.
To the natural ailments of the elderly Pope Emeritus, 95 years old, is added these days the intense “heat stroke” that hits Rome at the end of June, and that this Monday brought the thermometer in the Eternal City to 40 degrees.
Nine years as emeritus
Nine years have passed since, on February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI communicated to the cardinals his irrevocable decision to resign the pontificate starting February 28. Benedict spent his first few months as pope emeritus at Castel Gandolfo, then retired to a low-key life in the Vatican Gardens.
In a few months, less daily pressure and tranquility allowed him to regain strength and to receive visits again, but without participating in public events in which his successor was not present.
In recent years, he has lost strength in his voice and needs a wheelchair to get around. Although he receives very few people, the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation promptly collects photographs of some of these visits. The last one is from May 19 and portrays him with the president of a Bavarian brotherhood. Another series is from May 14 and in it the Pope Emeritus appears reading on a tablet congratulatory messages for his birthday, a month earlier.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism