Today is a moment of great silence, and a watershed moment in the history of the Church: Pope Benedict XVI is dead. He may now behold the Truth he believed and preached throughout his entire life – a comforting thought in view of the profound grief felt by so many over this immeasurable loss. It is difficult to say goodbye. In this case it has come in stages, beginning with Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation from the Petrine Office. As Pope Emeritus he lived a secluded life, but he was still present. Now we say goodbye for good. It is hard to imagine that we will never again hear his once familiar voice, which had become increasingly faint in recent years. There will be no new photos showing Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis together. Recent photos made it clear that even if his mind was still as alert as ever, his body had become increasingly frail. A once-in-a-century life has come to its end. One of the great theologians in the history of the Church has gone home to the house of the Heavenly Father. The unfathomable significance of the immense legacy left by this modern-day doctor of the Church is something that will become clearer and clearer as the years go by.
Whether he was a young theology professor or an aged emeritus, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI was someone who could always be relied upon for guidance. Ratzinger was as wise as he was pious. He lived what he preached, as priest and theologian, as bishop and as Pope. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and successor to Pope John Paul II, he left his mark on decades of Church history. Pope Benedict XVI made it clear why Faith needs reason and Reason needs Faith. He neither yielded nor conformed when critics attacked him. He did not wish to be a pawn of popularity, but a “co-worker of the truth”, remaining true to his episcopal motto throughout his entire life. Pope Benedict XVI gives us a vision of what intellectual brilliance means, showing us that humility does diminish one’s greatness, but in fact magnifies it.
„The prophetic power of the things said and written by Benedict XVI will become more and more evident as the years go by.“
In his three major encyclicals, Deus caritas est (2005), Spe salvi (2007), and Caritas in veritate (2009), Benedict explored the faith at its very core, casting light on key dimensions of Christian belief. He made it clear why, even today, there is every reason to believe, to hope, and to love. And he demonstrated that Christian faith is not a theory, nor is it a clever philosophy. At the center of it is a person: Jesus Christ. He is the living truth that Benedict XVI preached. At audiences, pastoral visits, and countless encounters with people, one thing was evident time and again: Benedict XVI was not some “Professor Pope” who stood aloof from the world. He had a deep affinity for people. In his unique, characteristically unassuming way, he knew how to inspire people and even how to connect with younger generations. The pictures from World Youth Day in Cologne, Sydney, and Madrid that were seen around the world are unforgettable. At the same time, Benedict XVI was never concerned with his own person, but always with proclaiming the Gospel and passing on faith in Jesus Christ.
Now his life, which spanned almost an entire century, has come to an end. From the Rupertiwinkel to Rome, from police officer’s son to Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from professor to Pope, from the Petrine ministry to life in the seclusion of a monastery, the trajectory of Pope Benedict XVI’s life reflects the beauty and the drama of the Faith and the Church, and the destiny of an eventful century.
Joseph Ratzinger wrote more than 600 books and essays in his life. For the future of faith and of the Church, his theological legacy is of inestimable value. To read his writings is to encounter one of the greatest intellectuals of our era: more rational than rationalism, more enlightened than the Enlightenment, thoroughly familiar with the intellectual history of Europe, a clergyman who could follow the thinkers of our time to their logical conclusions, who was as well acquainted with the great men and women of the Middle Ages and Antiquity as he was with the figures of the Bible. A theologian who understood the search for God among the religions and the philosophers alike, whose greatest desire was to show how the Christian response to man’s eternal search for God could open up paths both old and new to understanding the meaning of life.
The prophetic power of the things said and written by Benedict XVI will become more and more evident as the years go by. The seed of the Word, sown so abundantly by this great teacher of the Church, will bear fruit. And it is precisely this which we hope to contribute to with Internet portal. We want to encourage this growth to the best of our ability. With the death of Benedict XVI, this task is now more important than ever.
BenedictusXVI.com is a new Internet portal dedicated to the life and work of the Pope Emeritus. With the launch of this website, we are laying the foundation for a major international project. The ultimate goal is to create an attractive digital knowledge portal that will become the authorized location where the “Life, Thought, and Work” of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is collected for the whole world.
The contents of these pages have been created with the collaboration of experts both in Germany and throughout the world. The development and expansion of this Internet portal is a joint effort conducted by the Tagespost Foundation for Catholic Journalism and the Pope Benedict XVI Institute. The Pope Emeritus himself has given his approval to this project.
What it's all about?
Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has been one of the most important and influential personalities in the Catholic Church in recent decades and in the intellectual history of that era. His significance and his international impact are reflected both in his work and in the men and women who see him as a source of direction and insight, an intellectual “home”.
The theology of Benedict XVI is a theology dedicated to the service of the truth. It burns bright with the beauty of faith, allowing the splendor of reason to shine forth. This is what makes it especially attractive.
Many attempts have been made to portray the Pope Emeritus as emblematic of an outdated way of thinking that needs to be overcome once and for all. In view of the historic significance of Benedict XVI, this is a total misjudgment of his work, one that gets it entirely backwards.
This Internet portal aims to counteract one-sided accounts, common clichés, and distorted images by offering facts, quality, and the truth in order to promote a view of Benedict XVI’s life and work that is free of any unfair prejudice.
At the same time, we are not interested in nostalgia, the romanticization of the past, or the building of a cult of personality. This project is about the future, and www.BenedictusXVI.com has set before it the task of unlocking the rich treasure that is the work of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI for the coming generations.
Cristian Gennari/Romano Siciliani /KNA
Pope Francis greets his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on 8 December 2015. Both are united by their concern that the Church could become ossified in its complacency and lose its missionary power. Pope Francis has repeatedly called for evangelization. The new website www.BenedictusXVI.com wishes to answer this call.
Why is this important right now?
In a time when every foundation appears to be wavering, there is a need for “lighthouses” that point the way to Eternal things. The theology of Joseph Ratzinger is such a lighthouse, providing direction, clarity, and reliable guidance amid the turbulent seas of conflicting opinions and the storm of secularism.
Therefore, the authoritative interpretation of the work of Joseph Ratzinger must not be left to those who eagerly await the chance to “bury” an entire century’s worth of what they consider to be erroneous views and outdated theology along with Benedict XVI.
This new Internet portal aims to contribute to the long-term promotion of positive views of the work of Benedict XVI for audiences beyond academia. With its attractive design and impressive content, this website hopes to play an active role in the “conversation” as it plays out in the media and in society, engaging young people as well.
In view of the life’s work of a once-in-a-century theologian, www.BenedictusXVI.com would like to offer ways of accessing the Faith, helping to open up the doors of understanding. In this sense, this Internet portal sees itself as a media contribution to that evangelization to which Pope Francis tirelessly calls the Church.
What is being created here?
This Internet project will continue to grow in order to fully encompass the richness of Joseph Ratzinger’s work. A basic version of the site will first be launched in German, and is meant to provide an initial impression of this project. This basic version will then be expanded by the gradual addition of more content and translation into additional languages.
What you see here on this website today is only the beginning. Additional articles on the major speeches and sermons of Benedict XVI are already in the works and will be available soon. The enormous theological oeuvre of Ratzinger is being made progressively more accessible by authors in Germany and around the world. The “Benedict ABC’s”, which uses Ratzinger texts to introduce the basic concepts of the Faith, is constantly being expanded.
New sections and design elements to be added will appeal to people interested in familiarizing themselves with the work of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and deepening their own faith. One of our next objectives for this website is to integrate video and audio documents. This is something we are already working on.
picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb | epa ansa Pier Paolo Cito
The Tagespost Foundation for Catholic Journalism has set before it the task of making the work of a “once-in-a-century theologian” accessible to younger generations.
How can I help?
At the same time as we are adding content to the basic German version, we’ve already begun translating the site into English. The goal is to be able to present this vast store of information to an international audience beyond the German-speaking world. Versions in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and other languages are currently planned.
The technical and editorial groundwork has been done; the foundation has been laid. Now we can begin adding to and expanding upon it. You can the follow the growth of www.BenedictusXVI.com. And you can help to make sure this project moves forward. If you would like to help support the cause of this online project, we would greatly appreciate it. That may be in the form of prayer, financial support, or just by helping to spread the word about www.BenedictusXVI.com bekannt zu machen.
Clemens Neck, Christoph Konopka, Bernhard Müller, Dr. Norbert Neuhaus
on behalf of this project of the Tagespost Foundation for Catholic Journalism
Dr. Christian Schaller
The Pope Benedict XVI Institute