Cardinal Cupich, auxiliary bishops remember Pope Benedict at Mass

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Cardinal Cupich, auxiliary bishops remember Pope Benedict at Mass

Cardinal Cupich presided over a Mass for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at Holy Name Cathedral on Jan. 2, 2023. Auxiliary bishops, priests of the archdiocese and members of the faithful joined him for the morning Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Priests and bishops sing during the opening procession. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Priests pray near a portrait of Pope Benedict. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich prays at the altar. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Michael McGovern of the Diocese of Belleville, Ill., and a Chicago native, joins Cardinal Cupich in praying the Eucharistic Prayer. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Worshippers pray before Communion. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry distributes Communion. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI led a life of humility while serving as a scholar, an example of the importance of community life and as someone who had a deep personal relationship with Jesus, Cardinal Cupich said at a Jan. 2 Mass for the repose of the retired pope’s soul.

Benedict XVI died Dec. 31 at the age of 95, nearly a decade after shocking the world by announcing that he would retire to a life of prayer and study. The former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger served as pope from 2005 to 2013.

“For good reasons, many will remember him for his countless and incomparable gifts and talents,” Cardinal Cupich said. “He had a brilliant mind, wrote elegantly, and taught in a way that inspired his students to learn.”

Cardinal Cupich celebrated Mass for the repose of his soul on the morning of Jan. 2, the day the former pope’s body was moved from his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens to St. Peter’s Basilica, where it was to remain until his Jan. 5 funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

The morning Mass at Holy Name Cathedral was concelebrated by more than a dozen priests and auxiliary bishops.

Parishes in each of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s six vicariates were also to host Masses for the repose of the soul of Pope Benedict XVI on Jan. 4 and 5.

The readings for Jan. 2, for the feast of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen lead us “to focus on the way Joseph Ratzinger, called to do great things, made witnessing to the Gospel’s call to live in humble service to all his priority.”

That was demonstrated by Benedict XVI’s life of scholarship, which required him to listen to, learn from and be formed by the thoughts of those he interacted with, both teachers and students, the cardinal said.

It takes humility to be formed by others, Cardinal Cupich said. “It is a humility that rejects the myth of the self-made man.”

Benedict XVI learned about living in community by growing up in his family, seeing the example of his father’s faith and his mother’s devotion, even during the “difficult” years, he wrote in his last testament. The former pope grew up in Germany before and during World War II.

The cardinal spoke of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” which says that love must be organized to connect people to another. “For love to be authentic, it makes demands on us, but also comforts us,” Cardinal Cupich said.

The first paragraph of that encyclical provides one of the most quoted lines of Benedict XVI’s writing: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

It was his encounter with Jesus that moved Joseph Ratzinger out of the “comfortable world of ideas” and made him the servant of all.

Pope Benedict’s idea of the supreme pontiff as servant struck Erin Butler, a student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Butler was passing through Chicago with friends on their way to a conference in Florida when they heard about the Mass for Pope Benedict and decided to attend.

While Butler and her friends were in elementary school when Pope Benedict XVI retired, she said she saw a video about him, and learned that one of the first things he said after being installed was that he was a “humble servant.”

“I thought it was really striking that a pope would say that,” Butler said.

Barbara Banich also came to the Mass. She met then-Cardinal Ratzinger in Chicago years ago, she said, at an event she attended with a friend of Cardinal Francis George.

“I talked with him and came to some conclusions about him,” Banich said “He was very smart, and progressive in his own way.”


  • pope benedict xvi

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