On June 28 this year, Pope Benedict celebrated his 65th anniversary of priestly ordination. Hosted by Pope Francis, the celebration welcomed thirty cardinals as well as other guests. After music from the Sistine Chapel Choir, Pope Francis, Cardinal Gerhard Müller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano of the College of Cardinals spoke in honor of the Pope Emeritus.
Pope Francis asked, “What is the underlying note that runs through this long history [of your priesthood] and that from that first beginning up to today dominates it ever more? …You underscore [in your book of reflections on the priesthood] how, at the hour of Simon’s definitive call, Jesus, looking at him, basically asks him only one thing: ‘Do you love me?’ How beautiful and true this is! …This is the note that dominates a whole life spent in priestly service and true theology that you have not accidentally described as ‘the search for the Beloved.’”
At the celebration’s end, Pope Benedict thanked those present by recalling the word Efharisomen, “thanksgiving,” that was inscribed on his ordination card by a classmate. “‘Efharisomen’ sends us to that reality of gratitude, to that new dimension that Christ has given. He has transformed the Cross, suffering, and all the evil of the world into ‘thanksgiving.’ And thus, he has transformed life and the world fundamentally and has given us and gives us every day the bread of true life, which surpasses the world, thanks to the strength of his love. At the end, we want to insert ourselves in this ‘thanksgiving’ of the Lord and thus really receive the novelty of life and help in the transubstantiation of the world: that it be not a world of death but of life; a world in which love has conquered death.”
Editor’s note: All papal remarks in this article were translated by Zenit news service, Rome.